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Extending Election Hours? Not Likely.

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Yesterday, election day trauma again brought calls to extend the hours for voting beyond the statutory 7 pm cut-off.  This was the first earthquake-related request, but recent years have brought similar requests due to too many voters, too much rain, ice-storms, and/or bad traffic and delayed public transportation.  Virginia law provides that election hours may be extended, but the process for obtaining such an extension is not entirely clear.  It seems to involve the Governor declaring a state of emergency and a three-judge panel of the state Supreme Court issuing an order.  See Va. Code sec. 24.2-603.1.  This apparently has never happened in the history of the Commonwealth.  So people should quit thinking that it’s something that has any likelihood of happening and instead focus on making their votes count.

The best way to make your vote count is to vote early on election day, or vote absentee (in person or by mail) prior to election day.  You can vote absentee if you will be away from your residence for 11 hours on election day.  See SBE Guidance.   Northern Virginia registrars generally take the view that if you live in Virginia and work in DC, you likely would qualify.  So please vote early and make sure your vote counts.