Richmond church buses voters to polls on first day of early voting: ‘We need to vote’

Posted at 5:27 PM, Sep 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-18 18:31:14-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- A longtime church on Richmond’s Southside ensured members of their congregation were able to cast their ballot on the first day of early voting in Virginia.

New Life Deliverance Tabernacle on Decatur Street offered free bus rides to anyone who needed transportation to the city’s new registrar’s office on West Laburnum Avenue.

“We have people who are elderly and so what we wanted to do was conveniently have transportation to help people to go to vote early,” said Pastor Robert Winfree.

Victory Travel, a transit company based in Glen Allen, donated the bus. The church was tasked with paying for gas and the driver.

Once at the registrar’s office, poll workers helped voters on the bus who aren’t able to stand for long periods of time.

A long line grew outside the office before voting began at 8 a.m.

“Just so much going on in the nation, right now. It’s not just all about politics,” said church member Robin Chaney. “If you choose not vote and sit on your couch, then don't complain about the way things are going, simple as that."

Fanecha Whitfield boarded the church’s 1 p.m. bus in order to cast her ballot.

“I just have a lot of health issues, so just standing in line to vote would be hard on me,” she explained.

Whitfield served in the military for six years. Her son also enlisted in the Navy.

With her disability, Whitfield said healthcare and access to Social Security helped decide who she would vote for.

She also fought overseas for our right to vote and now urges everyone to exercise their rights.

“Just get out there to vote because it’s so necessary, right now,” Whitfield stated.

The church has planned to offer additional bus rides on September 22 and 29.

There are three ways Virginians can vote ahead of Election Day:

Absentee by Mail

Beginning September 18, Virginia general registrars will mail absentee ballots to voters who request them. You can request a ballot online here. The last day to request an absentee ballot by mail is Friday, October 23 at 5 p.m.

All absentee ballots will include a return envelope with prepaid postage. Ballots with a postmark of November 3 or earlier will be accepted until noon on Friday, November 6.

Drop-off Locations

You can also hand-deliver an absentee ballot to your local registrar’s office or returned to a secure drop-off location, which include any satellite voting location.

A list of drop-off locations is available on your county or city’s official website.

On Election Day, you can also drop off your completed absentee ballot at any polling place in the county or city in which you are registered to vote.

Early In Person

Starting September 18, you can vote absentee in person at your local registrar’s office or a satellite voting location identified by the registrar’s office. You can vote early in person through Saturday, October 31.

Election Day

Of course, you can also vote in person on Election Day, Tuesday, November 3, at your regular polling place. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Related: Where you can vote early and in-person for the 2020 presidential election