Waynesboro’s voter registration office is still encouraging the community to vote absentee for the May 5 election until the Virginia General Assembly makes a final decision later this month on whether or not to postpone municipal elections.
On Wednesday, Gov. Ralph Northam requested the General Assembly move the May General Election and all other special elections scheduled for May 5 to the Nov. 3 General Election date to limit the spread of COVID-19.
The governor also exercised his statutory authority to move the June primary elections from June 9 to June 23. Under current state law, the governor can postpone an election by 14 days without approval from the legislature.
Moving the upcoming May elections requires action by the legislature, which is set to consider the matter during the veto session on April 22 — just 13 days before before voters are scheduled to head to the polls.
“Free and fair elections are at the core of our democracy and no Virginian should have to choose between their health and exercising their right to vote,” said Attorney General Mark Herring in a press release on Wednesday. “I’m proud to have worked closely with Gov. Northam and his team on a solution that protects both public health and the integrity of our elections.”
Gov. Northam’s proposed plan for the General Assembly to consider regarding May elections includes having one ballot in November, discarding all absentee ballots already cast, and extending the term of officials set to expire on June 30 until their successors have been elected on Nov. 3.
In Waynesboro, voters are set to weigh in on city council and school board representatives for Ward A, Ward B and the at-large seats.
Waynesboro voting registrar Lisa Jeffers said, hypothetically, if pushed to November the ballot would most likely become two-sided with selections for president, U.S. Senate and constitutional amendments on the front and local candidates on the back.
Voting deadlines for the May election currently remain the same. April 28 is the last day in which an absentee ballot can be mailed. Voters can apply online for an absentee ballot at vote.elections.virginia.gov, by emailing email@example.com or by calling the Waynesboro voting registrar’s office at (540) 942-6620.
Until the General Assembly makes a decision regarding the governor’s proposal, Jeffers said her office is continuing to promote absentee voting. State officials have allowed all voters to request an absentee ballot using code 2A because of the coronavirus pandemic.
To date, 718 absentee ballots have been issued in the city and 123 of those ballots have been received back by the registrar’s office.
“(Absentee) is the best way. I am continuing on with absentee, and I would prefer the voters do that,” Jeffers said. “Nothing will change until the General Assembly meets on the 22nd.”