Virginia election officials focus on security ahead of midterms

Local News

Election Day security has been a top priority from the White House all the way to your local registrar’s office.

Virginia received about $9 million in funding for cybersecurity to protect voters, which was signed by President Donald Trump in March. Department of Elections Commissioner Chris Piper says they are “implementing their plan.”

“We work every day to make sure that we stay one step ahead of anybody that wishes to do us harm,” he said.

The department has been working with law enforcement, the FBI, Homeland Security and other agencies to prepare ahead of Election Day, to ensure Virginia election officials are getting information and sharing it with other states around the country.

These are all measures being taken behind the scenes to make sure everything goes smoothly. When you’re at a polling place, you’ll note that Virginians will only be filling out paper ballots. Back before the 2017 election, the State Board of Elections decertified all of the electronic polling machines. Now, voters only fill it out with paper.

Piper says this insures every paper is verified by the voter, calling it a big step for election security.

Also, the technology used to sign you in at a polling station, usually something along the lines of a tablet, is not connected to the internet. 

“That means that there’s no wireless capability and makes sure that they’re secure when they’re in the polling place,” Piper said.

Virginia is also one of the only states in the country to require voters to bring a photo identification to a polling place. There are over 10 forms of acceptable ID, including a driver’s license, DMV issued photo ID or U.S. passport.

If you don’t have one of these, you can go to your local registrar’s office to get your photograph taken for an identification for free. Pipers says you can do that all the way up until and on Election Day.

“We encourage you to make sure you have one,” he added.

Elections officials anticipate higher than normal midterm turnout, given the number of people who have already submitted absentee ballots. Nearly 200,000 absentee ballots have already been filled out and returned to their local registrars’ office as of yesterday as well. It’s about 70,000 more than in 2014.

Tuesday at 5 p.m. was the deadline to request an absentee ballot in the mail. Those ballots need to be returned by 7 p.m. on Election Day. You can still vote absentee in person until November 3.

On Election Day, if you are in line by 7 p.m. at your polling place, you will be able to vote. There are 2,441 precincts in the Commonwealth and you can find yours by clicking here.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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