Voting has started for the November 3rd election!

The fall 2020 General Election is the first election in Virginia to have true early voting – the General Assembly changed the law in their spring session so you no longer need an excuse to vote early.

What’s on the ballot?

The JCC/Williamsburg ballot has two sides! The York County ballot has the same information but is formatted differently so all the information is on one side.


Vote in person, early

Williamsburg voters:

Williamsburg City Registrar Office 401 Lafayette Street, Williamsburg, VA 23185, Monday – Friday 8am-4:30pm, and Saturdays October 24 and October 31 8am-4:30pm.

James City County voters:

James City County Recreation Center, 5301 Longhill Road, Williamsburg, VA 23188, Monday -Friday 8am-5pm, and Saturday October 24, and Saturday October 31, 8am-5pm.

York County voters:

  1. Washington Square, 5322 Geo. Wash. Mem. Hwy, Yorktown — Monday-Friday — 8:30 AM-5:00 PM;
  2. Victory Village, 6614 Mooretown Rd., Ste. A, Williamsburg — Tuesday, 8:30-5:00 (as of September 18, Monday-Friday — 8:30 AM-5:00 PM)
  3. Both offices will also be open on Saturday, October 24, and Saturday, October 31, from 9:00-5:00. 

Vote Absentee

Request your ballot to be mailed to you, and then mail it back OR drop it off in the approved drop off locations. The statewide deadline to request an absentee ballot is October 23, 2020. Request online or mail in a paper form to your local voting office.

Drop off locations are county specific, and not open 24-hrs a day – they are open at the same locations and times as early voting, listed above.

Vote at your precinct on November 3, 2020

Standard requirements here – vote at your specific polling place listed on your voter registration card, not at the central early voting location in your county. Look at the polling place listed on your voter card, look it up at vote411.org, or at elections.virginia.gov.

What’s on the Virginia ballot about redistricting

We believe that amending the constitution is the only way to clarify a partisan legislature’s role in redistricting. The current method for drawing new districts (which happens every ten years after a census) is outlined inArticle II, Section 6 of the current Virginia Constitution: “electoral districts (are) established by the General Assembly.” However, there are many limitations of the current system.

Read about the
Virginia Redistricting Amendment
on Ballotpedia

This ballot initiative on the November 2020 ballot would amend this Article of the Constitution of Virginia to take the sole power away from the legislature, which usually (because of political party majorities) has an incentive to redraw the lines in favor of one political party or the other. Here’s what the ballot measure says:


Should the Constitution of Virginia be amended to establish a redistricting commission, consisting of eight members of the General Assembly and eight citizens of the Commonwealth, that is responsible for drawing the congressional and state legislative districts that will be subsequently voted on, but not changed by, the General Assembly and enacted without the Governor’s involvement and to give the responsibility of drawing districts to the Supreme Court of Virginia if the redistricting commission fails to draw districts or the General Assembly fails to enact districts by certain deadlines?


The Senate of Virginia unanimously approved a simplified explanation for voters that need extra guidance. It reads:

A “yes” vote supports transferring the power to draw the state’s congressional and legislative districts from the state legislature to a redistricting commission composed of state legislators and citizens.

A “no” vote opposes transferring the power to draw the state’s congressional and legislative districts to a redistricting commission, thus keeping the state legislature responsible for redistricting.

In other words, if the amendment fails, Virginia’s unfair redistricting laws remain in place. Politicians will continue to have free rein to pick their voters behind closed doors, regardless of which party is in charge. Nothing will be in place to legally require them to change the status quo in 2021.

Print off this postcard and mail it to everyone you know in Virginia!

Print off this postcard and mail it to everyone you know in Virginia!

Investigate affordable housing

The Virginia State League is using the 2019-2020 year to study affordable housing and formulate a position that will be used for lobbying at the state and local level. Investigate the background information and form your own informed position on fairly priced housing for working class people in your community.

Housing clipart 8 » Clipart Station

Check out the work James City County is doing on this topic.

State League research, so far

A report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC):
The GAP – A Shortage of Affordable Homes

Virginia statistics from the NLIHC

“Connecting Housing and Health in the Williamsburg Region” by Housing Virginia

What does Virginia’s redistricting amendment change?

Printable version

The Status Quo:

Process

Districts drawn by the General Assembly

Zero requirements for transparency or public engagement

Redistricting occurs the year following the Census, but the General Assembly can also choose to redistrict mid-decade

Map drawing criteria

SB717 & the current constitution: contiguous, compactness, equal population requirement, preservation of communities of interest, prohibits partisan and racial gerrymandering

Fallback mechanism

The Supreme Court of Virginia would adjudicate maps if a case is filed claiming districts are gerrymandered. If the court rules new districts must be drawn, the General Assembly continues to be in charge of redistricting

Result: gerrymandering

Commission Amendment:

Process

Districts drawn by a bipartisan-balanced commission with 8 citizens and 8 legislators who must agree on maps by a super majority vote

Transparency mandated through public meetings, hearings, and data

Redistricting occurs the year following the Census and mid-decade redistricting is functionally impossible

Map drawing criteria

Same criteria as the Status Quo + amended constitution: adding historic civil rights protections for racial and ethnic minorities in the Virginia Constitution

Fallback Mechanism

If the commission can’t agree, the Virginia Supreme Court intervenes and will appoint a “Special Master” to redraw districts according to criteria above

Result: a historic improvement

Enabling Legislation:

Process

Districts drawn by amendment’s commission with added requirements from SB203 mandating diversity and restricting previous or active Party employees

Additional transparency through the Freedom of Information Act, open commission application process  and public participation in the Court’s redistricting deliberations

Same timing of redistricting as the Amendment

Map drawing criteria

Same criteria as the Amendment

Fallback Mechanism

If the commission can’t agree, the Court must appoint two Special Masters, allow public participation, and justices who are related to members of the General Assembly must recuse themselves

Result: additional safeguards

Get excited! There’s a Redistricting Amendment on the Virginia ballot November 3

Reporting from the Virginia Pilot

Get excited – there’s a big change coming to Virginia politics, and you can be a part of it when you vote this fall. Along with all the famous people on the ballot this fall, there is a new Virginia constitutional amendment for the state’s voters to consider. Two consecutive General Assemblies (first with a Republican majority, second with a Democrat majority) voted to approve this Virginia amendment, and final step to ratify is approval by a majority of voters.

Study the wording of the amendment before you start to vote your ballot this fall – like all constitutional amendments, the language isn’t necessarily easy to read, but you can spend some time with it beforehand so you’re prepared.

Based on how both parties in Virginia have reacted to this amendment, at different times, it doesn’t favor either Democrats or Republicans – it is designed to be a brake on the runaway power of either party. It’s an opportunity for voters to cast a vote not for either party but for a system that prevents either party from making all the rules about who gets to be a representative in Richmond.


What the ballot will say:

Should the Constitution of Virginia be amended to establish a redistricting commission, consisting of eight members of the General Assembly and eight citizens of the Commonwealth, that is responsible for drawing the congressional and state legislative districts that will be subsequently voted on, but not changed by, the General Assembly and enacted without the Governor’s involvement and to give the responsibility of drawing districts to the Supreme Court of Virginia if the redistricting commission fails to draw districts or the General Assembly fails to enact districts by certain deadlines?


Our state has a history of highly partisan districts where legislators run unopposed for years or win over and over in non-competitive races. These districts happen because they are drawn when one party or the other is in power in the state legislature, and they want to preserve their power to keep getting more easy seats for their party. The redistricting amendment is a good faith effort by legislators to limit partisan gerrymandering. It means that future General Assemblies in Richmond will have less power to create voting districts that overwhelmingly favor one party or another; instead, it promotes creating more competitive election districts which limit extreme partisanship.


The Senate of Virginia unanimously approved a simplified explanation for voters that need extra guidance. It reads:

A “yes” vote supports transferring the power to draw the state’s congressional and legislative districts from the state legislature to a redistricting commission composed of state legislators and citizens.

A “no” vote opposes transferring the power to draw the state’s congressional and legislative districts to a redistricting commission, thus keeping the state legislature responsible for redistricting


For more information, check out the advocacy of One Virginia 2021 and Fair Maps VA. You can print off this postcard in support of this amendment and send it to your friends anywhere in Virginia. Look at interactive maps of the current districts to get an idea of what is there now. Study the wording of the amendment before you start to vote your ballot this fall – like all constitutional amendments, the language isn’t necessarily easy to read, but you can spend some time with it beforehand so you’re prepared.

You can be an election worker!

Get more details and ask questions about being an election worker in our area by joining this Wednesday, August 12, 2020 webinar at 2pm. Dianna Moorman, the Director of Elections for James City County, will join this webinar sponsored by the Williamsburg Unitarian Universalists, and a local election officer will also share his experiences.

A voting location in James City County

For the first time ever, Election Day (November 3, 2020) is now a holiday in Virginia, so maybe you’ll be available to serve when you weren’t in the past. It’s a helpful service to the county and local voters, and you get paid for your work. Check out the official information from James City County.

To serve, you need to be a
– registered voter in Virginia
– Willing to work the entire day on Election Day, starting at 5am at your assigned polling location and staying until results are counted, usually around 8pm
– Interested in helping voters in our area have a pleasant voting experience

Civics 101: The FIGHT for VOTING RIGHTS IN AMERICA: Past, Present & Future

CIVICS 101 webinar #2
Tuesday, July 21 at 4 p.m.

A good way to catch up on the context for Virginia’s changes to election laws and rules coming for the November election.


For LWV members & the public; please pass this on to friends or organizations that may be interested

  • How did voting rights in our Constitution evolve since 1787?
  • What did our Founding Fathers envision about voting?
  • What is the history of the power of voting in America?

This second Civics 101 webinar from the Williamsburg Area League of Women Voters, co-sponsored with the Williamsburg Regional Library, will answer these questions, review the effects of Jim Crow laws and prepare voters for the recent changes in election laws in Virginia.  

Save this LINK to join the webinar at 4 pm on Tuesday, July 21.

The Williamsburg Area League of Women Voters is developing these CIVICS 101 webinars to fill the void as  the pandemic has upended learning in schools across the United States and prevented the League from holding meetings. Thank you, Williamsburg Regional Library, for suggesting the concept!

While women celebrate a century of voting, local League of Women Voters remembers rich history

from the WYDaily, By Alexa Doiron – February 17, 2020

The Williamsburg League of Women Voters is celebrating 100 years of women's right to vote and remembering its own local history. (WYDaily/WLWV Facebook)
The Williamsburg League of Women Voters is celebrating 100 years of women’s right to vote and remembering its own local history. (WYDaily/WLWV Facebook)

When the Williamsburg Area League of Women Voters first started in 1962, it wasn’t without a fight.

The league started with a little more than two dozen women, some of whom were African American, said Mary Ann Moxon, communications director for the Williamsburg League.

Moxon said when the local women went to become an established league, they found themselves turned away because there were black women involved. There were no integrated leagues in Virginia at the time, but Moxon said the founding Williamsburg members didn’t give up.

“This was during a time when Jim Crow was still the rule of the land,” Moxon said. “But they persisted and became the first integrated league in the state…Now, it’s our history that motivates us.”

Integration wasn’t the only challenge the women had to overcome. During the league’s first year as a “provisional local League,” leaders had to complete a “Know Your Town Survey” in order to be recognized as an official league.

Before her death in 2019, Edith Edwards, co-chair of the project, remembered facing push-back from the local government when trying to get public information for the survey, Moxon said.

Instead of backing down, Edwards and member Rita Welsh, who died in 1981, petitioned Williamsburg-James City County Circuit Court Judge Robert Armistead to order the local court clerk to provide the information.

“It didn’t help that some of the League members were from other areas with northern accents. I, at least, was from Raleigh with a southern drawl,” Edwards said in an interview with the League.

The League’s first annual meeting was held in April 1963 with local educator and activist Clara Byrd Baker as the Voter Service Chair. Baker, who died in 1979, was the first African American woman to vote in Williamsburg in 1920 and taught at the previously segregated Bruton Heights school.

During her lifetime, she promoted interracial cooperation and advocated for women’s education and interaction in public affairs, according to Virginia Changemakers.

This year, the league is celebrating 100 years of women’s right to vote through various events, including honoring lifetime members such as Jan Woodward, who joined the league in 1970.

At the time, she said she just wanted to work to make a more educated public and enact change in the local area. Now, 50 years later she can reflect on her time as a member of an organization that has not only promoted women in democracy but upheld values of an educated citizenry from its beginning.

“I was just impressed by the willingness of these women to spend time and energy in educating the public about what was going on in the community,” she said. “I didn’t know the founders well when I joined, but some of them became dear friends and I’m grateful to have been a part of it.”

Woodward said she thinks the mission of the League is just as important today as it ever was. She added she doesn’t want people just to vote, but to do so with informed opinions.

“It was always a matter of wanting people to be educated,” she said. “Because if you don’t know what’s happening, or the history of something, you’re not able to make a sensible decision going forward on what should happen even next week.”

Woodward was honored Friday by the League for half a century of dedicated service to the organization. But Woodward said she can’t take credit for any of the league’s successes, it was all the work of one group of women who fought for, and continue to work toward, an educated democracy.

Voting in Virginia

If everything goes right, voting is quick and easy – but there are laws, regulations, and election quirks that can mess you up. This includes some COVID-19 specific information, like what to put as your absentee vote by mail reason on the paperwork to request an absentee ballot.

You can check your personal voter status at elections.virginia.gov, and request an absentee ballot to be mailed to you.