Virginia begins early voting in June 8 primary elections

Henrico offers 5 drop box locations for convenience in returning ballots

With early voting in Virginia’s June 8 primary elections underway, Henrico County has begun fielding requests for absentee ballots and has expanded the number of locations where they can be returned.

For the convenience of the county’s 237,000 registered voters, the Office of Voter Registration and Elections has installed five drop boxes across the county where voters can submit their completed absentee ballots:

The two government center locations, on Parham and Nine Mile, have outdoor drop boxes – as they did for last November’s general election. The boxes are accessible 24 hours a day and monitored by security cameras.

The boxes at the recreation centers and library are indoors and available 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Henrico’s decision to offer more drop boxes and to disperse them geographically makes sense given the popularity and success of early voting last year, Henrico Deputy Registrar Anne Marie Middlesworth said.

“We’re trying to spread the love,” she said. “The Board of Supervisors encouraged this approach, and we wholeheartedly agreed it was the right thing to do.”

The 2020 general election marked the first time Virginia allowed voters to cast absentee ballots before Election Day without approval based on a qualifying reason. In Henrico, more than 60% of 183,670 ballots were cast by absentee ballot. That compares to about 10% in 2008, 2012 and 2016.

For the June 8 primaries, voters also can request and return absentee ballots by mail or in-person at the government center locations of the Office of Voter Registration and Elections. The offices are open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays, May 29 and June 5.

Additionally, if voters have not returned their absentee ballots before June 8, drop boxes will be available at all Henrico polling places to receive them, Middlesworth said.

The 45-day early voting period in Virginia started Friday, April 23. While overall turnout is expected to be lower than it was in November, the ease and popularity of early voting may compel more voters to participate than they have historically in primaries, Middlesworth said.

“We’ve had a lot of voters say they found it really convenient to come at any point in the 45 days and not have to complete an application to vote absentee,” she said. “It’s an added benefit.”

The June 8 primaries will decide the Democratic candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general as well as the Democratic and Republican candidates for the House of Delegates. In Henrico, the contested House races are for the Democratic nominee in the 68th and 74th districts and the Republican nominee in the 68th and 72nd districts.

“We would encourage all voters to review the sample ballots on our website before heading to the polls,” General Registrar Mark Coakley said. “That will help everyone be prepared, because each ballot may be different depending on where the voter lives.”

The Republican Party of Virginia will hold a convention May 8 to choose Republican candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.

Other key dates ahead of the June 8 primary elections

Monday, May 17: The last day to register or to update information to vote in the June 8 primaries.

Friday, May 28: The last day to request an absentee ballot by mail or fax. All applications must be received by 5 p.m. in the Office of Voter Registration and Elections.

Saturday, June 5: The last day to vote by absentee ballot in-person at locations of the Office of Voter Registration and Elections.

Tuesday, June 8: Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. for Election Day.

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