Salem voters to cast ballots at Salem Civic Center for November election

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SALEM, Va. (WFXR) — Voters from all 10 precincts in Salem will be heading to the Salem Civic Center to cast their ballots in November’s election.

Five precincts were either using churches or the Cardinal Criminal Justice Academy as their polling locations. However, because of the coronavirus pandemic, those churches shut their doors to their own parishioners.

The Salem Electoral Board decided to move the five precincts into the Civic Center for the November election, along with the other five that were already using the venue.

The board believes it is the best option to allow every voter to cast their ballots comfortably.

“We feel like we’ve had the trial run,” said Katherin Elam, the election board’s secretary. “We know it’s going to be a larger turnout for the presidential election.”

Election officials are implementing safety measures, including pushing for social distancing, requiring all voters and poll workers to wear face coverings, and making personal protective equipment available.

Each precinct is assigned an entrance to us to space people out.

The Civic Center was used as a polling site for all 10 precincts earlier this year for the presidential primaries and the Salem City Council election.

Five precincts moved into Salem Civic Center:

  • Beverly Heights
  • Southside Hills
  • West Salem
  • South Salem #2
  • North Salem #2
  • Cardinal Criminal Justice Academy

More than 4,000 people have voted already in Salem, according to the director of elections. That sets the record for the most ballots cast in the city prior to an election, but the staff has had to do some extra work.

Elam says some people who originally requested and received absentee ballots decided to bring those ballots to the election office and vote in-person instead.

Although that is allowed, Elam says those moves are creating additional work for the staff members because then they have to check records to validate the way people voted to prevent any potential fraud.

“Remember that it’s the taxpayer’s money that sent out those ballots to you number one,” Elam said. “But if you do so choose, which you have that option to come in and vote in person, be sure to bring that ballot with you. You will be on our system no matter where you’re voting in Virginia as having received a ballot. You need to bring it back in. It may take you a little bit longer to cast your ballot in person before November 3rd, but it’s because we want to make sure there are no hang ups anywhere.”

More than 18,000 people living in Salem are registered to vote. The deadline to register to vote in-person in Virginia is Oct. 13, but the last day to request an absentee ballot is Oct. 23.

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