The Massive Surge in Early Voting and Its Impact on Election Results

More than 2 million Virginia voters have already cast ballots for the Nov. 3 General Election, meaning voters and the media will need patience on Election Night to receive results in close races. Nearly 400,000 ballots are still in the hands of voters, waiting to be returned. Additional early voting locations have opened around the Commonwealth this week. 

“Virginians are making a statement by voting early, securely, and safely. This shift will make ballots coming in by mail, including some not postmarked until Election Day, vital to determining the election outcome in Virginia. Patience for complete results will be necessary. This election night will be very different than what we are used to—reporting data may not show a complete picture on election night and that is okay,” said Anna Scholl, executive director of Progress Virginia.

Ballots postmarked on or before Election Day, Nov. 3 and that arrive at the local registrar’s office by noon on Friday, Nov. 6 will be valid and counted. Because of the high volume of valid absentee ballots that may come in through the November 6th deadline, results in close races could be delayed while all the votes are counted.

New legislation went into effect July 1, 2020, that allows Virginia voters to vote absentee without giving an excuse. Any registered voter may request an absentee ballot or vote early in person. Registered voters can also use the Department of Elections site to request an absentee by mail, find their polling place, and track their ballot.

Local elections offices and satellite locations are open for in-person voting in all localities throughout the Commonwealth through Oct. 31, 2020. Voters can also return absentee ballots to a secure drop box at the local registrar’s office or satellite polling location. On Election Day, ballots can also be returned to a dropbox at a local polling place.

Election Protection, a national, nonpartisan coalition, provides comprehensive information and assistance at all stages of voting–from registration, to absentee and early voting, to casting a vote at the polls, to overcoming obstacles to their participation. Voters may call 1-866-OUR-VOTE (English); 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA (en Español); 1-888-API-VOTE (Asian multilingual assistance); 1-844-YALLA-US (Arabic) if they encounter any problems exercising their right to vote.

Important Dates:

  • Saturday, Oct. 31: Last day to request an absentee ballot in person.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 3: Election Day. Polls are open from 6 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. (if you are in line by 7 p.m. you can vote). Last day to postmark a mail-in ballot.
  • Friday, Nov. 6: All mail-in absentee ballots must be postmarked on or before Election Day and received by your local registrar’s office by 12 p.m.

To verify registration status, visit or call 1-866-OUR-VOTE.

For more information, visit the Virginia State Board of Elections website.