Civic engagement means getting everyday folks involved in the decisions that affect our families and communities. Election season is an especially important time for us to speak up, and there are many ways we can all get involved in the process, regardless of our citizenship status or whether we can vote.
Elections matter because elected leaders can make decisions that can either help or hurt our families. Politicians pay more attention to communities who participate in elections. By getting our entire community engaged in the election process, we can make a difference for our families.
Important Election Dates
Last date to Register to Vote: Monday, October 17, 2016
- Tuesday November 8, 2016
The last day to request a apply for an Absentee Ballot by Mail is Tuesday, November 1, 2016. The last day for In-Person Absentee Voting is Saturday, November 5, 2016. If you have questions about voting early, please call 1-866-552-9745 or email: email@example.com.
Register to Vote
Can I Vote Early?
Currently, there is no early voting in Virginia. Voters may vote by absentee ballot but must provide a reason. You must either request your ballot by mail before Tuesday, November 1, 2016, or vote absentee in-person in your local city or county office by Saturday, November 5, 2016. A valid excuse includes if you are unable to vote during the set times scheduled due to work schedule.
Who Can Vote?
You must be 18 and a US citizen to vote. Individuals convicted of a felony who have completed their sentence, parole, and probation may be eligible to have their voting rights restored. You can check your status online and apply for restoration with the Secretary of the Commonwealth. Regardless of your voting status, you can still make a difference!
- Encourage and educate people who can vote.
- Share this guide at your church or with your neighbors.
- Write letters to your local paper about issues you care about.
- Meet or send a letter to your representatives.
- Get involved at the local level — city council, town halls, and more.
What to Bring to Vote
Virginia law requires you to present an acceptable form of identification (ID) that includes a photo when voting in person at your polling place. Acceptable IDs include:
- Virginia driver’s license or ID card
- Virginia DMV issued Veteran’s ID card.
- United States passport
- Other government-issued photo identification cards (must be issued by US Government, the Commonwealth of Virginia, or a political subdivision of the Commonwealth
- Tribal enrollment or other tribal ID issued by one of 11 tribes recognized by the Commonwealth of Virginia
- College, university, public or private school student photo identification card (must be located in VA)
- Employee identification card containing a photograph of the voter and issued by an employer of the voter in the normal course of business
All of the acceptable forms of photo ID can be used up to a year after the ID has expired. If you arrive at your polling place without an acceptable form of photo ID, you will be asked to vote a provisional ballot. For more information, contact or visit your nearest Virginia Voter Registration Office or contact the Virginia Department of Elections at (800) 552-9745 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Federal Elected Positions
- Nominates the heads of all executive departments and federal agencies, including Department of Homeland Security.
- Proposes the federal budget for approval by Congress.
- Has the power to veto (reject) bills passed by Congress; Congress can overturn a veto with a two-thirds majority vote.
- Serves as the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces.
- Appoints federal judges and nominates Supreme Court Justices.
What This Means For You
The president sets enforcement priorities for immigration laws. For decades, presidents of both parties have deferred the deportation of millions of people who entered the country without documentation.
Recommends funding levels for programs such as childcare, health-care, and domestic violence services.
Nominates lifetime appointments of federal judges and justices, who rule on issues such as equal rights and privacy issues.
US CONGRESS • Congress is made up of two separate bodies: The US House of Representatives and the US Senate. Together they form the legislative (law-making) branch of the Federal Government. There are no limits on the number of terms that a member of Congress can serve.
- Makes and passes federal laws.
- Allocates money to federal programs in yearly budget.
- Determines the federal tax guidelines.
- Can propose changes to the Constitution.
- Has the power to declare war.
What This Means For You
Decides whether to expand or cut funding for programs such as Head Start, Medicaid, Cash Assistance, Social Security, relief for victims of natural disasters, military spending, childcare, healthcare and domestic violence services are funded or cut.
Creates federal laws governing immigration, healthcare, education, criminal justice, student loan interest rates, and labor and environmental protections.
Local Elected Positions
Local School Board
- Adopts policies to guide the school district.
- Hires and evaluates the superintendent for the district.
- Approves the annual budget.
What This Means For You
Decides what is taught in local public schools, including health education and family planning.
Makes decisions about school district police security.
In Virginia, the State Legislature must refer any constitutional amendment to a vote of the people. Because they are often confusingly worded, it can be hard to tell what you are voting for or against. We wanted to highlight one measure that is of particular concern to our families.