More than 13,000 ballots have already been cast in Loudoun County, and elections officials are clarifying that Virginians voting absentee in the Nov. 3 election do not need a witness signature.
Richard Keech, deputy director and deputy registrar for the Loudoun County Office of Elections and Voter Registration, said ballots will be counted with or without a witness signature provided the rest of “envelope B” is completed and received by the deadlines.
The notice follows Loudoun voters receiving conflicting information from various sources, including newsletters from the offices of supervisors Tony Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) and Sylvia Glass (D-Broad Run). The newsletters stated that in order for voters to return their ballots they need to “fill it out, have it witnessed and send it back.”
After reaching out to both Buffington and Glass’s offices, a spokeswoman for Buffington’s office said his alert “relied on information released by the county and was a good faith effort to ensure voters are informed of their voting options ...” The office pointed to a page on the county website that said mail-in ballots require witnesses.
Keech told the Times-Mirror, “For the November 2020 General Election, voters voting by mail can disregard the witness signature requirements if they do not feel they can safely obtain a witness. All valid mail ballots will be counted provided all other parts of envelope B are filled out properly ... ”
The deadline to return ballots by mail is postmarked no later than Nov. 3.
Keech said setting aside the witness requirement was one of the changes made prior to the office printing and assembling ballot packets on time per federal law.
He said the instructions have been updated on all ballots that went out starting Sept. 23. Voters have also been notified on the office’s website, social media platforms and in press releases.
Keech said the elections office had received about 5,000 ballots by mail as of Sunday and seen more than 8,300 in-person early voters.
More information regarding the Nov. 3 general election can be found at Loudoun.gov/vote.