ROANOKE, Va. – The 2020 election is fewer than two weeks away, but thousands of Roanoke voters have already made their decision by mail.
Roanoke City Election Director Andrew Cochran says his office has received nearly 7,000 completed mail-in ballots so far, with more than 4,000 ballots still waiting to be returned.
Cochran said the early voting numbers are unprecedented; according to him, only about 5,000 Roanokers voted early throughout the 2016 election.
“It’s exciting that voters are engaged and turning out in record numbers,” Cochran said. “I think we’ve made voting accessible for a lot of people, and it’s great to see so many people involved.”
The crowd of early voters included Paul Romeo, who filled out his mail-in ballot at home to avoid crowding during COVID-19.
“I didn’t want to go through the hassle of voting on Election Day,” Romeo said. “It’s probably going to be hectic. I figured this would be easier.”
However, Romeo decided to drop off his ballot at the Roanoke election office instead of using the mail.
“I just wanted to make sure it got here,” Romeo said. “Mail takes a long time, so I figured I would drop it off.”
Completed mail-in ballots can be dropped off at election offices until 7 p.m. on Election Day. Ballots do not need a witness signature this year, because of COVID-19 concerns.
Romeo said he has no regrets about his decision to use a mail-in ballot and hopes others utilize the option.
“The relief is off of you because you know you already did it,” Romeo said. “It was great. It didn’t take any time at all.”