Voter application mailer leads to confusion

Posted at 1:54 PM, Aug 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-10 16:12:45-04

NORFOLK, Va. - A third-party group mailed out absentee voter applications to people across Virginia, leading to confusion for some.

The Center for Voter Information said the intent was to encourage "them to safely participate in democracy," in a statement online. In some parts of the state, incorrect addresses for registrars were listed, but in at least Norfolk and Virginia Beach the information appears to be accurate.

"We've received a lot of phone calls and emails about this application," said Donna Patterson, the Voter Registrar in Virginia Beach.

Patterson says the application is legitimate and people can submit it if they want. If they have already submitted one, they don't have to submit a second one.

"It looks like that was the intention of this group - to get more people to submit applications to vote by mail," said Patterson.

Following the confusion, the Department of Elections said they have no affiliation with the Center for Voter Information. The group describes itself as non-partisan and non-profit.

Patterson said it is a common occurrence during presidential election years for groups to purchase voter lists from the State Department Elections and mail out different things. "You see this every presidential year," she said.

More and more voters are expected to vote absentee by mail due to health concerns. People can apply now, but ballots won't be mailed out until September. The General Assembly recently changed the law, no longer requiring an excuse for absentee voting.

"The application is pretty easy. It's pretty short. If you want to vote by mail, you can submit your application now," said Patterson.

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