Prince William County election officials are preparing for a rush of voters in November’s presidential election, but they might not be voting at the polls.
“Folks are requesting to vote by mail at home,” said Michele White, Prince William County’s elections director and general registrar, during a presentation to the Board of County Supervisors.
Prince William County voters turned in more mail-in ballots during the primary on June 23 compared to previous years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In June 2018, county election staff processed 582 mail-in ballots, White said. In June 2019, staff processed 383 mail-in ballots. In June of this year, staff processed 13,731 mail-in ballots amid the pandemic.
As of July 21, 9,600 voters have requested a mail-in ballot for the November election. The last day to request a mail-in ballot is Oct. 23.
Mail-in ballots are slated to be sent out in mid-September, White said, adding voters should call her office if they don’t receive their mail-in ballot in a timely manner or if there’s a problem with the ballot.
“There will be a learning curve to becoming a mailhouse if you will,” she said.
It is not yet decided whether the mail-in ballots will have pre-paid postage, White said.
In the 2016 presidential election, 196,538 residents cast their vote in Prince William County, according to the Virginia Department of Elections.
The county has 314,030 registered voters, an increase of nearly 40,000 from 2016, White said. The last day to register to vote is Oct. 13.
The election office is planning for increased voter turnout of up to 90%. In 2016, 72% of registered voters cast their ballot, White said.
“It absolutely could happen,” she said. “Staff and I need to be prepared for any number of voters that could show up to vote, however they may wish to vote.”
Due to the virus, voters were allowed to request an absentee or mail-in ballot using illness as a reason. Starting with the presidential election in November, voters in Virginia do not need a reason to vote before Election Day.
Voters in Prince William County can cast their ballots early in-person from Sept. 18 through Oct. 31, according to the county’s election department.
For more, visit pwcvotes.org.
See the county presentation on its plan for the presidential election in November.