6 Things to Know Before Voting in 2020

Published on October 22, 2020

Election Day 2020 will be unlike any other. This year, it's not just about going to the polls on Nov. 3. The COVID-19 pandemic and expected record turnout have brought new challenges this election season. Already more than 70,000 Arlingtonians have cast their ballot by mail and in person.

From how election officials are keeping you safe at the polls to how to vote before Nov. 3 and what you need to bring with you, we've rounded up the information you need to know.

How to Stay Safe

The Arlington Office of Elections is taking many steps to keep voters safe:

  • All voters are encouraged to wear a face covering. Anyone who does not have a mask—or forgets it at home—will be offered a mask to wear. The Virginia Department of Elections has provided localities with the necessary personal protective equipment.

  • Polling places can accommodate social distancing. The number of people allowed in the voting room will be limited and voting booths will be spaced to keep voters 6 feet apart when possible. Polling places will be arranged so that the line of voters will remain outside as long as possible and voters can keep a 6-foot distance.

  • Polling places are sanitized regularly. Workers have the necessary equipment, such as disinfectant, gloves, masks, and shields. Voters are provided single-use pens and privacy folders. Voters are also encouraged to bring their own blue or black ball point pen if they prefer.

  • Poll workers are being screened. Election Officers will have a temperature check and screening for COVID-19. They are not to report to work if they have any symptoms or a known exposure. Visitors, such as poll watchers and the media, will also be screened before entering a polling place.

RELATED: Review disability services available at the polls

What's on the Ballot 

The Nov. 3 election will feature races at both the federal and local levels, as well as two statewide Constitutional Amendments and five local bond questions.

For president and vice president, candidates from the Republican, Democratic, and Libertarian parties will appear on the ballot in Virginia. In the statewide U.S. Senate race Incumbent Mark Warner (D) faces Republican Daniel Gade, while Arlington's U.S. House of Representatives seat in the 8th District of Virginia features incumbent Don Beyer (D) and challenger Jeff Jordan (R).

On the County Board, incumbent Democrat Libby Garvey faces challenger Audrey R. Clement, an Independent. For the School Board, David Priddy, Cristina Diaz-Torres, and Symone Walker are vying for two seats.

MORE: Review the ballot 

The proposed Virginia Constitutional amendments ask about the establishment of a redistricting commission and the vehicle tax status of disabled veterans. You can learn more about the details of the Constitutional Amendments on the state elections website.

Finally, voters will be asked five bond questions, totaling $145 million. The projects included in the bond questions address Metro and transportation, parks and recreation, community infrastructure, stormwater, and Arlington Public Schools.

Learn more about the bond referenda

How to Vote by Mail

During the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the easiest ways to vote in the 2020 election is by mail. Voting by mail is open to all voters—but you must request your ballot by 5 p.m. on Friday, October 23.

There are six ways to get your vote-by-mail ballot application: online, by phone, by mail, via email, at Bozman Government Center, and at any Arlington library branch.

Once you've received your vote by mail ballot, you can return it by sending it via any mailbox, by dropping it in one of the County's secure drop boxes by Election Day, or by bringing it to your polling place on Election Day.

Want to drop off your ballot?  View a map of drop box locations

Have questions about how ballot drop boxes work? Review our FAQ

The best way to track your ballot is via the County website, where you can confirm that your ballot was received and when it was accepted. Vote by mail ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 3 and must be received by noon on Friday, Nov. 6.

Where to Vote in Person

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3, and polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Residents must be in line at their polling place by closing to be eligible to cast a ballot.  

Not sure where to vote? Find your polling place on the Virginia Department of Elections website.  

But you don't have to wait until Nov. 3 to vote in person! Whether you miss the deadline to apply to vote by mail or you simply want to cast your ballot in person, Arlington has five locations for early in person voting.

Early voting is open to all voters—no reason required—until 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 31.

RELATED: View a map of early voting locations

What to Bring to Vote

All Virginia voters must show an acceptable form of ID at the polls or when voting in-person absentee. While photo IDs are no longer required, voters must still bring ID to the polls. Acceptable forms of ID include:

  • Voter confirmation documents you received after you registered to vote

  • Virginia DMV-issued Driver's License or ID Card

  • Valid United States Passport

  • Any ID card issued by the federal, Virginia, or a local Virginia government

  • Any student ID card issued by a U.S. university or community

  • Valid student ID issued by a public school or private school in Virginia

  • Employer-issued photo ID card

  • Any current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document with your name and address

  • An ID Confirmation Statement (provided at polling place)

MORE: Review the ID requirements  

Voters who forget to bring their IDs but are otherwise qualified to vote can fill out a provisional ballot. Provisional ballots will not be counted unless a voter provides the Electoral Board with a copy of a valid ID no later than noon on the Friday after the election. 

And don't forget to bring a face covering—and a black or blue ink pen—to the polls!

How to Get Help 

If you have questions about Election Day or any of the voting or ID requirements, contact Arlington Office of Elections at 703-228-3456, email voters@arlingtonva.us, or stop by the Bozman Government Center (2100 Clarendon Blvd. Suite 320). 

You can also go to vote.arlingtonva.gov for additional resources. 

Have questions while at the polling place? Ask a poll worker! They are there to help. Also, you can ask for a new ballot if you make a mistake while casting your votes.