Registering VA Voters

Guidelines on how to register voters

Effective July 1, 2013, all individuals or organizations requesting 25 or more voter registration applications must register and complete ELECT certified training. You can complete the training by attending an in-person session or by watching this online training video (14 minutes). After watching the video, you must sign a virtual sworn affidavit (available here). Each person who completes the training and signs the affidavit can request up to 200 registration forms.

As you prepare for any voter registration efforts, this Department of Elections checklist (PDF) provides a helpful reminder of steps to take to ensure you are following their guidelines and rules.

At least one agent of the organization seeking to obtain applications must complete the training and certify that that the organization will require training for all persons collecting completed voter registration applications from applicants on behalf of the organization. Ideally, we would want everyone associated here to complete the training and sign the affidavit.

Voter registration guidelines and best practices

The Department of Elections offers this (PDF) detailed guide to registering voters in VA. The guide provides important details, including relevant laws and deadlines, to be aware of for voter registration efforts. Pages 4-5 are a helpful cheat sheet for folks in the field with a sample script and voter eligibility requirements. Failure to comply with some of the regulations in the guide amounts to a misdemeanor.

Note, all collected applications must be turned in to the appropriate local voter registration office or the board of elections within 10 days of the signature date or by 5:00pm the day of the next elections registration deadline, whichever is sooner).

Virginia Voter ID Laws

Virginia law requires all voters to provide an acceptable form of photo identification when voting in person at their polling place. There are many different types of photo IDs that voters can use when they vote. All of the acceptable forms of photo ID can be used up to a year after an ID has expired. Acceptable forms of photo ID include:

  • Valid Virginia Driver’s License or Identification Card
  • Valid Virginia DMV issued Veteran’s ID card
  • Valid United States Passport
  • Other government-issued photo identification cards (must be issued by U.S. Government, the Commonwealth of Virginia, or a political subdivision of the Commonwealth)
  • Tribal enrollment or other tribal ID issued by one of 11 tribes recognized by the Commonwealth of Virginia
  • Valid college or university student photo identification card (must be from an institution of higher education located in Virginia)
  • Valid student ID issued by a public school or private school in Virginia displaying a photo
  • Employee identification card containing a photograph of the voter and issued by an employer of the voter in the ordinary course of the employer’s business

Obtaining a Photo ID

Voters can obtain a free Virginia Voter Photo ID Card through their local Voter Registration Office. There, they will complete an application in the presence of a designated Virginia Election Official. Then an Election Official will then take their picture and have them sign a digital signature pad. Once those two steps are complete, a Virginia Voter Photo ID Card is printed and mailed to the address on file in the Voter Registration System.

In special circumstances, a designated Virginia Election Official will print a Temporary Identification Document which voters may use while awaiting their Virginia Voter Photo ID Card to arrive in the mail, which usually takes about two to four weeks. Voters who receive a Temporary Identification Document prior to an upcoming election may use their Temporary Identification Document to cast a regular ballot on Election Day.

Note: Before you head out for a voter registration effort, look up and write down the nearest Voter Registration Office. While each of the VA-10 counties has at least one office, they are only open weekdays from 8:30 AM-5 PM, so this should not be the only option we provide to registrants who need to obtain a photo ID.

What happens if you show up to vote without Photo ID?

Voters who arrive at their polling place without an acceptable form of photo ID will be given the opportunity to vote using a provisional ballot. After completing the provisional ballot, they will be given written instructions on how to submit a copy of their photo ID so their vote can be counted.

A voter who casts a provisional ballot will have until noon on the Monday following the election to deliver a copy of their photo ID to the Voter Registration Office in which the ballot was cast. Voters may submit a copy of their ID via fax, email, in-person submission, or through USPS or commercial delivery service.