Election starts tomorrow with early voting

This drop box for ballots at the Louisa County Office Building is now accessible to voters 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Election Day may not be until Nov. 3, but for some citizens voting begins tomorrow.

That’s when they will be able to go to the Louisa County Office Building at 1 Woolfolk Avenue to vote early. The registrar’s office on the building’s ground floor will be open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Cris Watkins, Louisa County Registrar, said absentee ballots were sent to registered voters who requested them on Sept. 14. They can be returned at any time before 7 p.m. on election night, unless they are mailed. Mailed-in ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 3 and in the registrar’s office by noon on Nov. 6 to be counted. 

Watkins emphasized that while people can vote early, no ballots will be counted until after the polls close on Election Day. 

The share of eligible voters who participate in the election is expected to be high, with the main event being the race between President Donald Trump, a Republican, and Democratic challenger Joseph Biden. Libertarian presidential candidate Jo Jorgenson also collected enough signatures to appear on the ballot.

Democratic Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger is running for the first time as an incumbent against Republican Nick Freitas in the 7th District race, while Democratic Senator Mark Warner is seeking a third term against Republican Daniel Gade.

On the reverse side of the ballot, voters will find two proposed amendments to the state constitution (see below for amendment language). The first question is whether a redistricting commission should be formed to draw new federal and state legislative districts after the 2020 Census is completed. 

The Virginia General Assembly voted in each of the past two regular sessions to support forming the commission in an effort to take politics out of the redistricting process, which happens every 10 years. The votes were bipartisan, although Democrats were divided in the 2021 session because some felt the new process will not do enough to ensure fairness for African American voters. 

The question says that eight citizens and eight General Assembly members are to serve on the commission. They would deliver recommended district lines to the General Assembly, which would then vote whether to accept, but not change, the results. 

If the commission fails to draw the lines, or the General Assembly doesn’t vote to approve them, the state Supreme Court would be responsible for drawing the lines.

The second proposed amendment asks whether a U.S. military or Virginia National Guard veteran with a permanent disability due to military service should be free from paying state and local taxes on their vehicle.

In addition to the county office building, the Louisa County Board of Supervisors approved a second, satellite location for early voting at the Louisa Arts Center at 212 Fredericksburg Avenue. The site will be open every day except Sunday from Oct. 19 to Oct. 31, Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  

The arts center and county office building will also be open for early voting on the last two Saturdays of October from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Drop-off sites will also be available for voters turning in their absentee ballots, including on Election Day. The sites were approved by the General Assembly during the special session that began in August. Voters can return ballots by depositing them in a metal box at the Louisa County Office Building, any time of day or night. The arts center will also serve as a drop-off site when it is open for early voting. In addition, precincts open on Election Day will also accept ballots from people who prefer not to vote in person.

 

Constitutional Amendment #1:

Should the Constitution of Virginia be amended to establish a redistricting commission, consisting of eight members of the General Assembly and eight citizens of the Commonwealth, that is responsible for drawing the congressional and state legislative districts that will be subsequently voted on, but not changed by, the General Assembly and enacted without the Governor’s involvement and to give the responsibility of drawing districts to the Supreme Court of Virginia if the redistricting commission fails to draw districts or the General Assembly fails to enact districts by certain deadlines?

 

Constitutional Amendment #2:

Should an automobile or pickup truck that is owned and used primarily by or for a veteran of the United States armed forces or the Virginia National Guard who has a one hundred percent service-connected, permanent, and total disability be free from state and local taxation?

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