… COVID-19? 

… Recognizing Racial Justice?

… Protests?

These all could be the headline that carries 2020 into history. But the most important could be the “The Year of the Ballot.”

Joining 19 states from the coast to coast and in between, Virginia took a significant legislative step in advancing the ease and universality of voter registration. Under a statute passed this 2020 session, beginning July 1, 2020, the information of any resident 17 years or older who applies for a state-issued ID will be forwarded to the State Board of Elections. Using the information—so long as the individual is 17 years old or older, a citizen, and did not decline that the information be used—the State Board of Elections will automatically register that citizen to vote. Colorado has found that this also keeps the voter’s address information more current because the state-issued ID requires updating when the holder moves. Further, in other states, the signature on the ID is matched to the signature of any ballot.

The next and first Virginia election to be affected by this new method is the Presidential election of November 3, 2020. The last registration date for that election is October 13, 2020.


  • 17-year-old with a state-issued permit or license will be registered to vote.
  • These newly registered voters can vote in the presidential general election, if they turn 18 by the presidential general election date.
  • 17-year-old voters may vote in any presidential primary held before the general election even if they are not 18 years old at that point.

This, without even scratching the surface of mail-in ballots, makes this the “Year of the Ballot” in Virginia.