VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - There's still over a month until Election Day, but thousands of people have already sent back their absentee ballots by mail to be counted.
On Friday, election officials demonstrated how they're being counted.
The ballots are being stored in a locked cabinet in their envelopes. The envelopes have the voter's name, address and signature on them. You don't need to have a witness signature for this election in Virginia.
If an envelope is missing any of that information, it is not counted and the Registrar's Office tries to contact the voter to tell them they need to update the missing information.
Next, the envelopes are put through a machine that opens them. Registrar's Office staff then open and unfold the ballots and stack them on top of each other.
Staffers make sure the voting machine hasn't been tampered with, and then feed the ballots into the machine. If there are issues with the ballots being fed through the machine, the count is canceled until there is a clean feed.
On Friday, it took three tries to get it right. Staffers were hoping to count 4,600 on Friday.
The voting machine is keeping track of all of the vote counts, but staff and the electoral board will not be able to see any of the results until after voting is over in November.
"There's nothing to be worried about in terms of the process," said Jeffrey Marks, the Chairman of the Electoral Board. The board is made up with representation from both parties. They're overseeing the counting.
In Virginia, election officials can begin to count absentee votes now in order to speed up the reporting of results. The Electoral Board has to certify the election by November 10.
"You can see if the process was not moved along, we would have great difficulty being able to certify our election in Virginia Beach," said Tim Barrow, the Secretary of the Electoral Board.
With so much at stake this year, election officials are vowing to get it right.
"It's part of letting the public know that this is a transparent process and there's no under the table or behind the scenes activity going on," said Barrow.