RICHMOND, Va. -- The Commissioner for Virginia's Department of Elections said two big differences in how the Commonwealth handles early voting could lead to absentee results being reported faster next Tuesday compared to last year.
Last year, during the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic, roughly 2.8 million people cast an absentee ballot by mail or in-person -- but those results were not reported until later on election night, frustrating some like CBS 6 political analyst Dr. Bob Holsworth.
Chris Piper said the first change is the new lawrequiring local registrars to begin processing mail-in ballots at least seven days before Election Day.
"Essentially what this means is that they have a public meeting with election officers representing each party and they go through verifying the…absentee ballots and then they run those ballots to the machine," added Piper. "Because this is required prior to Election Day, by the time they get to Election Day they should be able to quickly move through the remaining absentee ballots and be able to tabulate the votes shortly after the polls close on election night."
Piper said the General Assembly also now requires that absentee ballots be reported in separate sections on each locality's page rather than in one lump section. For example, on the results page for Richmond City, there are boxes for mail-in votes received by Election Day (marked #AB), early in-person voting (marked #EV), and mail-in ballots received by 12 p.m. on the Friday after Election Day (but post marked by Election Day (marked #PE).
"And of course, just like elections in the past, everybody who went to vote in the precincts on Election Day, those will be called in as the night goes on," said Piper. "So, we will see these results from early in-person, absentee by-mail coming in, first of all, in two different buckets and, second of all, I think at an earlier time in the night that we saw last year."
CBS 6 has a guide to the 2021 elections that can be found here.
A list of new laws in effect in 2021 can be found here.
Key Dates and Deadlines in Virginia
Friday, Sept. 17: Early, In-Person Voting Begins
Thursday, Oct. 12: Voter Registration Deadline
Friday, Oct. 22: Request Absentee/Mail-In Ballot Deadline
Saturday, Oct. 30: Early, In-Person Voting Ends
Tuesday, Nov. 2 is Election Day: In-Person Voting from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Tuesday, Nov. 2: Absentee/Mail-In Postmark by Date
Friday, Nov. 5: Absentee/Mail-In Delivered By Date