Absentee Voting

Applying to Vote by Absentee Ballot

You may request a ballot if you meet one of the qualifying reasons to vote absentee. You may vote in person at the Voter Registration office or request to have your ballot sent by mail after an Absentee Ballot Application is received and approved.

If you are not already registered, there is a five day waiting period after registration before you can be issued an absentee ballot (exception for military and overseas voters only).

For persons who register to vote in Virginia by mail, federal law requires you to show identification (ID) when voting for the first time in a federal election unless you provided a copy of an acceptable ID with your voter registration application. Learn more about federal election ID requirements.

All citizens voting an absentee ballot in person will be required to show an approved form of PHOTO ID.

Reasons to Vote Absentee

  • Students at institutions of higher learning, and their spouses
  • Absent for business purposes (includes persons who are employed outside of Bristol)
  • Absent for personal business or vacation
  • Scheduled to work at one's workplace at least 11 of the 13 hours the polls are open (includes commuting)
  • Firefighters and first responder personnel
  • Unable to get to the polls because of disability, illness, or pregnancy
  • Caretakers of confined family members
  • Awaiting trial and under confinement
  • Serving time for misdemeanor convictions
  • Religious conflicts
  • Active duty uniformed services or merchant marine personnel and dependents residing with them
  • Regularly employed outside the U.S. and dependents residing with them
  • Living abroad indefinitely (may be eligible to vote only for federal offices)
  • Registrars, electoral board members, or officers of election scheduled to work the election
  • Political party or candidate representative volunteers scheduled to work inside the polls or at different polling places

Applying for an Absentee Ballot

Apply using a Virginia Absentee Ballot Application as soon as you know you will not be able to go to the polls on Election Day, but no earlier than 12 months before the election date. For a mail ballot, your application must be received by 5:00 p.m. Tuesday before the election (postmarked not accepted). Applications may be returned by:
Fax -(276) 645-7331
Mail - Office of Voter Registration, 300 Lee St. Bristol, VA 24201
Email - scan completed and signed application and email to vote@bristolva.org
In-person absentee voting is available in our office 45 days before the election and ends at 5:00 pm on the last Saturday before the election.

Under Virginia law, all absentee ballots must either be voted in person at our office, or sent directly to the voter by mail. Ballots cannot be sent in care of or returned by another individual. We use certified first-class U.S. mail to send ballots within the U.S. and a special prepaid U.S. postage permit for overseas ballots.

Voters with Disabilities

Certain individuals who are physically disabled or ill may submit an Annual Absentee Application to cover all elections in one calendar year. The first application submitted must include a one time signature of your physician or religious practitioner. Thereafter, a new application will be mailed to you each December to update your information for the coming year. If you would like one of these applications sent to you, please contact the office at (276) 645-7318.

Military and Overseas Voters