By Randy Arrington
LURAY, Oct. 7 — With one week left to register for the Nov. 3 general election, more than 1,500 votes have already been cast in Page County. That represents about 14 percent of the total ballots expected this fall.
Page County Voter Registrar Carol Gaunt reported that as of Oct. 6, her office had processed 924 in-person ballots and mailed out 803 others by request. Of those 803 ballots sent to voters in the mail, 601 had been returned “marked” while five were returned “unmarked.”
“Likely returned unmarked so they could vote in person,” Gaunt noted of the five blank ballots received. She added that in Virginia, ballots are only mailed out by registrars to those registered voters who request them.
Page County typically sees a voter turnout of 66 to 68 percent during a presidential election year, according to Gaunt, but she noted that “at this rate, we may [reach] 75 percent.”
With slightly more than 16,000 registered voters in Page County, that means an estimated 11,000 ballots — give or take about 500 — are expected in this fall’s general election.
Despite the fact that nearly 14 percent of the anticipated ballots have already been cast one month before Election Day, the county registrar says her office is adding more poll workers for Nov. 3.
“We are planning on 10 per polling place instead of the [usual] seven or eight,” Gaunt said.
She noted that the heavy turnout in early voting, especially absentee voting, was due in large part to the waiver of a second signature and the need to present a “reason” for requesting an absentee ballot. The COVID-19 pandemic prompted legislators across the country to relax state requirements for mail-in ballots and open up the process to all voters.
“So far, everything has gone well,” Gaunt said of both mail-in ballots and in-person voting. “No lines to speak of.”
For those who choose to vote in-person at the polls on Election Day, the registrar reminds all voters to bring their identification (photo ID not required this year — so a voter registration card would suffice) and follow all COVID-19 protocols in place to protect other voters, as well as poll workers.
“Please wear your face covering. We can’t require it, but our officer of elections will appreciate it,” Gaunt said, “and take advantage of the hand sanitizer at the polls.”
Poll workers will be busy sanitizing each booth after each ballot is cast.
“For the voters’ protection, as well as our officers, we are sanitizing [voting] booths after the voter leaves,” she continued. “We will give the voter a pen to mark the ballot, and they should keep it. We are not re-using them.”
The county registrar says that there are accommodations for disabled voters, or those who may feel ill on Election Day.
“If you are unwell, you may want to ask the [election] officer at the door to have a ballot brought curbside for you,” she said. “You may also take advantage of voting by mail.”
Applications to receive a ballot by mail will be accepted by the registrar’s office until 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 23. All ballots postmarked by Nov. 3 will be counted.
Walk-in voting in Room 205 of the Page County Government Center on South Court Street in Luray is available to all registered voters through 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 31. In addition the county registrar’s normal office hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, Saturday voting will also be available on Oct. 24 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Those choosing to vote early at the government center may call for curbside service, if needed.
“If you come to the back of the county building, we have curbside available to those unable or at risk,” Gaunt said. “Call us at (540) 743-3986 and someone will come out to help.”
The phone number is also posted on a sign outside of the building near the back entrance.
The Page County Registrar’s office — as well as all local government offices — will be closed Monday, Oct. 12 for Columbus Day.
All five polling locations in the county — one for each magisterial district — will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3.
The last day to register for the upcoming election is Tuesday, Oct. 13. A five-day waiting period exists for new registrants before being able to cast a ballot.
Below is a breakdown by magisterial district of early voting in Page County as of Tuesday, Oct. 6:
- District 1 – West Luray — 170 mailed; 258 in-person.
- District 2 – East Luray — 130 mailed; 278 in-person.
- District 3 – Marksville — 115 mailed; 153 in-person.
- District 4 – Newport — 97 mailed; 145 in-person.
- District 5 – Shenandoah — 89 mailed; 90 in-person.
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