Early voting begins Friday as Richmond registrar anticipates 'busy' election season

Posted at 7:04 AM, Jan 17, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-17 16:03:10-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond City Registrar Keith Balmer began preparing for the 2024 election season when he was sworn in three years ago.

“I've increased the number of staff just to make sure that our response times are faster. I have we've introduced new poll books and we've upgraded our voting machines just to be prepared for the volume of voters that are coming,” Balmer told CBS 6 in his office on West Laburnum Avenue.

Early voting for the March 5 presidential primaries begin Friday, January 19. The last day to vote early is March 2.

Virginians will be able to vote in either the Democratic or the Republican primary at their local registrars office.

“When our poll workers ask the voter what party, they're not asking you to be intrusive. They're asking you because they need to know what ballot to give you because it'd be two different ballots,” Balmer explained. “A lot of voters tend to get offended by that, but it's a procedural necessity.”

Richmond voters will elect a new mayor and every city council and school board seat will be up for grabs.

Typically, Balmer hires 700 poll workers to work the elections. But he will need 1,400 poll workers to work this season.

“One thing that we're going to do here in the city is that our recruitment efforts is geared towards people who live in the same neighborhood where they vote. You can be rest assured that those people are going to be even more engaged to come out and help because they're gonna be helping their neighbors vote,” he stated.

Balmer intends to make running for local office easier.

“In February, we're going to introduce new online training for those running for local office as a tool to just help them navigate the murky waters of running for office and qualify for the ballot,” he said.

The deadline to register to vote, or update an existing registration is February 12. Voters may register after this date, through Election Day, and vote using a provisional ballot, according to the Virginia Department of Elections.

The deadline to apply for a ballot to be mailed to you is February 23. Your request must be received by your local voter registration office by 5:00 p.m.

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