Roanoke election directors explain confusing aspects of mail-in voting: ‘Make sure that your vote is cast'

Each jurisdiction offers options to track ballot online for security

ROANOKE, Va. – 2020 is the year of the mail-in ballot, according to Roanoke City election director Andrew Cochran.

“We have already received 5,000 absentee applications, and most of those came by mail,” Cochran said.

However, the optional switch to mailed ballots has confused some voters in both Roanoke City and Roanoke County.

“We get probably 150 calls and emails a day, minimum,” Cochran said.

“So many people say, ‘Why don’t I have my ballot?’” said Roanoke County election director Anna Cloeter. “‘I know who I want to vote for, why can’t I vote?’”

The ballots don’t technically exist yet. Virginia has to wait until each party officially nominates its presidential candidate at a convention before each ballot is finalized and printed.

Cochran said requested ballots will reach mailboxes within a month, but he understands the anxiety of waiting.

“It’s been frustrating for me that we don’t already have ballots,” Cochran said. “Every locality in the state is experiencing the same thing right now.”

Additionally, Virginia has added a step this year to ensure the security of each ballot. Each jurisdiction’s election site has a link to a ballot-tracking application, which links to a unique number in each ballot.

“You’ll be able to see once its been picked up by the Postal Service, when its in transit back to our office, and when its been transported to our office,” Cloeter said.

If you choose not to mail your ballot, you can drop it off at your local election office, as long as you are carrying ID. In-person early voting will also become an option for Virginia voters, starting September 18.

“Whether its by mail or in-person, we have 45 days where you can make sure, one way or another, that your vote is cast,” Cloeter said.