Student Voter Guide for Virginia’s 2020 Presidential Primary Election

This guide will help you participate in Virginia’s March 3 presidential primary, in which you can help choose America’s Democratic presidential nominee. In Virginia, registration is not party-specific; when you vote in the presidential primary, you can choose either party’s ballot. However, the Republican Party of Virginia has decided to cancel its primary and select delegates at its state convention.

Dates and Deadlines

  • Primary election date: Tuesday, March 3, 2020, 6 AM to 7 PM
  • Deadline to register to vote, or update an existing registration: February 10 (5 PM in person, 11:50 PM online)
  • Deadline to request an absentee ballot to be mailed to you: February 25 by 5 PM
  • First date to vote absentee in-person (at your registrar’s office): January 16
  • Last date to vote absentee in-person: Saturday, February 29, by 5 PM
  • Deadline for an absentee ballot to be received by your registrar: March 3 at 7 PM

Why this primary matters

You have a chance to determine the presidential nominee for the Democratic Party. As part of Super Tuesday, the Virginia primary plays an important role. Even if your first choice doesn’t win, your votes can influence the stands of the candidates who do. For Democratic presidential candidates, delegates are allocated proportionately to anyone getting 15% or more of the vote.

Candidate information

For Republican and Democratic presidential candidate websites, CNN has a complete list. Politico also has a quick guide to Democratic candidate positions.


You are eligible to vote if you are:

  • A U.S. citizen
  • A Virginia resident
  • At least 18 years old. You can register when you’re 17 and will be 18 by March 3. (If you turn 18 by November 3, 2020, you’re also eligible to vote in the March 3 primary.)
  • Not planning to vote in another state 
  • Not currently declared mentally incompetent by a court of law
  • Not a convicted felon, unless you have had your right to vote restored.

How to register to vote

You can register at your local voter registration office, or you can download an application form and deliver it to your local registration office, or mail it to the address printed on the form. You can also register online. Your Social Security number is the only ID you will be asked for. With several exceptions, you must provide a street address or a description of where you live as a residence address. See full instructions on the How to Register page.

ID requirements for voting

Forms of valid ID include:

  • A Virginia Driver’s license
  • A Virginia DMV-issued photo ID
  • A free voter photo ID from your local voter registration office
  • Student photo ID issued by a school, college, or university located in Virginia
  • S. passport
  • Any valid employee photo ID

See this Virginia Department of Elections page for a full list of acceptable forms of ID. If you are registered but do not have valid ID, you will be asked to vote with a provisional ballot.

Absentee voting

If you’re registered, you can apply for an absentee ballot in person at your local registrar’s office. (If you’re not already registered, you will have to wait five days after registration before you can be issued an absentee ballot.) You must provide an acceptable form of ID to apply. After completing the application, you will be allowed to vote at the registrar’s office. You can also apply for an absentee ballot by mail, fax, or email. See the Absentee Voting page for allowed reasons for voting absentee and for ID requirements for certain first-time absentee voters.

Address to use for registering and voting

Per federal election law, college students can register and vote at either their campus address or their permanent home address, which may be out of state. However, voters can only be registered at one address. If you are not going to physically be in the state where you plan to vote, you will need to request an absentee ballot.

It’s your choice where to register. Registering at your campus address will not:

  • Affect your federal financial aid
  • Prevent your parents from claiming you as a dependent on their taxes
  • Cost you any scholarships, unless they’re tied to specific residency requirements
  • Affect your tuition status as an in-state or out-of-state student.

Key Resources