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Looking to vote in-person before Election Day? The deadline is Saturday

Voters confuse early voting with absentee voting in Virginia
Posted at 5:48 AM, Oct 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-30 17:12:16-04

It's not even Election Day yet, but some are having to stand in line for a long time to vote in-person.

"We’re okay with waiting. We want our voices heard," Jim and Chris Ohlstein of Virginia Beach told News 3 during a 2-hour wait outside the Great Neck Recreation Center earlier this month.

COVID-19 has pushed many to vote early this year.

As of Thursday in Virginia, the Commonwealth is reporting more than 2.3 million mailed and in-person ballots cast, compared to around 600,000 this time in 2016. In North Carolina, the early-voting numbers are approaching 4 million.

In both states the deadline to request a mail-in ballot has passed, but in-person, early voting is allowed through Saturday, October 31.

Over the next couple days and then on Election Day itself, election officials suggest blocking off plenty of time.

"The advice is to be prepared to wait in line and if you don't have to - that's great," Jeffrey Marks, Chairman of the Virginia Beach Electoral Board, told News 3 on Thursday.

Virginia Beach posts estimated wait times on its elections web page.

In-person, early voting ends on Saturday at 3 p.m. in North Carolina; 5 p.m. in Virginia.

Absentee ballots must be postmarked or turned in by hand by November 3 to be counted. In Virginia, election officials will count ballots received through mail by noon on November 6; November 12 in North Carolina.

Dr. Eric Claville, the Director of the Center for African American Public Policy at Norfolk State University expects early voting to favor Democrats, while voting on Election Day will favor Republicans. "The early voting tells us that in 2020 the American citizenry that are able to vote are taking this election very seriously," he said. "It's also showing that our democracy works."