Registrar’s Office encourages voting absentee

Published 7:01 pm Tuesday, March 31, 2020

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In an effort to promote social distancing and slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the Franklin Registrar’s Office is encouraging voters to cast absentee ballots in the city’s local election in May.

According to City Registrar Jennifer Maynard, voters may apply for absentee ballots online at using reason code 2A – disability or illness. The deadline to request an absentee ballot by mail for the May 5 election is Tuesday, April 28 by 5 p.m. The deadline to register to vote in time for the May 5 election is Monday, April 13.

But as for how to conduct an election during a global pandemic, even Maynard is uncertain.

“We are awaiting guidance from the [Virginia] Department of Elections,” she said.

A total of four seats on Franklin’s City Council are up for election. Mayor Frank Rabil is running for re-election unopposed. Mark R. Kitchen is likewise running unopposed for the Ward 1 seat on the Council. The current Ward 1 representative, Barry Cheatham, is not running for re-election.

In Ward 2 of the city, C. Ray Smith is also running unopposed, with incumbent Councilman Benny Burgess not seeking re-election.

In Ward 4, incumbent Councilman Linwood W. Johnson III is seeking re-election, and is being challenged by Henri A. Porter.

In neighboring Isle of Wight County, Deputy Registrar Victoria Mainwaring said her office also hasn’t received guidance from the state yet on if or how the voting process will be impacted. The county’s special election for a new clerk of circuit court, however, isn’t until Nov. 3 – the same day as the presidential election. Isle of Wight’s current circuit court clerk, Sharon Jones, announced in early January that she would be retiring.

While the Registrar’s Office is encouraging Smithfield voters to apply for absentee ballots for its Town Council election, the only change Mainwaring was aware of was an extension of the deadline for filing as a clerk of court candidate. The original deadline had been June 9 but is now Aug. 14, she said.