State, local officials ready for general election

WAVY/Brandi Cummings

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Whenever there is a new law, especially one dealing with elections, there is always concern. So, elections officials spent the summer months making sure voters are aware of the new voter ID law, in light of the upcoming general election.

Special coverage: Election Day

Officials say if you have a photo ID, the process to vote has not changed, but if you don’t, there’s an option for you on Election Day.

So, Virginia’s Department of Elections committed $179,930 of their $200,000 budget from the General Assembly for photo ID outreach activities. They designed the ID production software and even conducted training across the state on how to use it.

That push for understanding the new law has had an effect in Hampton Roads. In Virginia Beach, officials told WAVY.com they are ready: voting materials are packed and polling machines are ready for voters to cast ballot Tuesday, Nov. 4.

“All we can do is make sure that we follow the law and that people are presenting the acceptable form of ID,” Virginia Beach General Registrar Donna Patterson said.

Related link: Va. Beach elections website

Patterson and her staff spent the last two weeks training the 800 Virginia Beach poll workers.

“Right now, the biggest thing is accommodating our absentee, in-person voters and also ballots that come back by way of mail,” Patterson said.

By mail, outside, through curbside voting and inside, voters can cast absentee ballots in Virginia Beach until Saturday.

Vonda Munden plans to vote, but didn’t have the proper ID.

“Every election is important and because of the new voter ID laws, I just want to make sure I was able to do so. The election is too important not to,” Munden said.

10 On Your Side was there as Munden filled out her request for a voter ID, took her photo and got her temporary ID. It was a process that took about five minutes.

Related link: Virginia Department of Elections website

These are the acceptable forms of photo ID:

  • Virginia driver’s license (that is current or expired for less than 12 months)
  • Military ID
  • Any federal, Virginia state or local government-issued photo identification
  • Employer issued photo identification card
  • United States passport or passport card
  • Valid student photo ID issued by any institution of higher education (public or private) located in the Commonwealth of Virginia
  • Student ID issued by a public high school in Virginia displaying a photo
  • DMV-issued photo ID
  • Naturalization certificate
  • Tribal enrollment or other tribal ID (if issued by one of the 11 tribes recognized by Virginia)

If you don’t have one, or even if you don’t have it with you, you can still vote.

“They can vote a provisional ballot on election day,” Patterson said. “They can come to our office and get one done on Election Day, and we’ll give them a temporary one that we can match with their provisional ballot. We just don’t want any voter to get turned away on Election Day.”

The process of matching provisional ballots with photo ID’s of voters will start the day after the election. With 94 precincts in Virginia Beach, the 12 permanent staff members and up to 10 additional staff members will put the ballots in order based on precinct number, then match and count the provisional ballots.

If you have an acceptable form of photo ID, the voting process will be almost exactly what you’re used to.

Photos: Officials raise voter ID law awareness

“The voters are going to tell them their name. They’re going to tell them their address. They’re going to give them all that information so they can be looked up on the poll book. The only difference this year is that the ID that a voter provides has to have a photo on it,” said Commissioner Edgardo Cortés with the Department of Elections.

“The biggest issue has been figuring out how to let voters know this new law is in effect,” Cortés said. “Despite whatever outreach goes on, we aren’t sure how well the message has gone out there.”

Virginia Beach elections officials say, as of Wednesday, they have only received 42 requests for the free photo ID’s and more than 1,700 requests for absentee ballots.

While covering this story, 10 On Your Side learned Virginia will be going back to using paper ballots for elections.

According to Rose Mansfield, Executive Assistant to the Department of Elections Commissioner, “The General Assembly has banned the purchase of DRE [Direct Recording Electronic] voting equipment. As existing equipment ages and needs to be replaced, the DRE ban means it will be replaced with a paper-based voting system. Many localities around the state are currently in the process of purchasing new voting equipment.”

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