Although "Super Tuesday" will occur on February 5, with 22 states holding presidential preference primaries or party caucuses, Virginia's presidential primary -- for both Democratic and Republican candidates seeking their respective party's nomination -- will take place a week later, on Tuesday, February 12.
Ironically, the General Assembly moved the date of the Virginia primary forward so that voters on the Commonwealth would have a larger, earlier effect on the outcome of the nomination contest. What the Delegates and Senators failed to anticipate was that so many other states would race to the start, diminishing Virginia's influence on the nominating process.
The State Board of Elections has issued a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), with answers, about the "dual primary" scheduled for the second Tuesday in February. Here is what the SBE says:
Why do I have to state a party preference to vote in this election?Virginia residents who are qualified to vote but have not yet registered have until Monday, January 14, to register and be eligible to vote in the February 12 primary. To find your local voter registration office, look here.
Under Virginia law, a dual primary consists of two separate elections conducted on the same day for the same office or offices. There are separate pollbooks, separate ballots and/or ballots boxes, and results for each primary are tallied separately. Virginia law only allows you to vote in one of these two separate elections.
Is this party registration?
No. Voter registration by political party does not exist. Your name will be marked in the pollbook for the party in whose primary you choose to vote, and that information will be available to that political party after the election.
There are names appearing on the ballot of candidates who have announced their withdrawal from the contest. What happens if I vote for candidate one of those candidates?
Your vote will still be counted and reported as a vote for that candidate.
I voted by absentee ballot for a candidate who has since withdrawn. Can I request and receive a new ballot?
No. Your vote will be counted and reported for the candidate you voted for.
Last year I voted in one party’s primary, now I want to vote in the other party’s primary. Can I do that?
Yes. The offer to vote in a party’s primary does not constitute a legal obligation to do so again in a future election, nor does it prohibit you from voting in a different party’s primary in the future.
How is the order in which names appear on the ballot chosen?
After the deadline has passed and the political parties have certified the names of the candidates who have qualified to appear on the ballot, the State Board of Elections, in a public meeting, holds a drawing in which the names of all the candidates or a primary are placed in a container and a Board member draws the names at random. The process is then repeated for the other party.
Can I cast a write-in vote if I don’t wish to vote for any of the candidates whose names appear on the ballot?
No, write-in votes are not permitted in primaries.
Why can 17 year olds vote in this election?
Seventeen year olds may register to vote if they will be eighteen years old by the day of the November General Election. Virginia law further states that they may also vote in any intervening primary or special election occurring in the jurisdiction in which they are registered to vote. This means that while they can vote in the Presidential Primary, the Congressional Primary which may be held in June and any special election, they may NOT vote in a town or city election for which they would otherwise be qualified since these are General Elections.