What to expect at the polls on Election Day

Posted at 11:42 AM, Nov 01, 2021

RICHMOND, Va. -- The eyes of the nation are on Virginia this week for the first major election since President Joe Biden was elected one year ago.

From Richmond to Chesterfield and Henrico counties, elections officials are hard at work Monday to prepare for the thousands of voters expected to head to the polls tomorrow morning. While Virginia saw more than 858,000 people vote early in-person for this General Election, the majority of Central Virginians will still be casting their ballots on Election Day.

Chesterfield County Director of Elections Constance Hargrove said she has a team of 1,000 poll workers ready to go as the county is expecting a potential record turnout for a gubernatorial election.

“I was thinking maybe we'll get around 55 percent, which is a 10 percent increase from the last gubernatorial election," Hargrove said. "But it might exceed that if people continue to be as interested as they are. They're more concerned about the critical issues that affect their everyday lives, and they're turning out to vote.”

It's a similar story in Henrico County, where Mark Coakley, Director of Elections, said they're expecting 55 to 60 percent voter turnout.

"That'll be the highest that we had for the governor's race," Coakley noted.

Glenn Youngkin, Suzanne Youngkin
Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin and his wife Suzanne, back left, vote early, Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021, in Fairfax, Va. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Henrico saw more than 32,000 people cast early ballots — that’s about 17 percent of all registered voters.

Chesterfield also saw around 17 percent of its voters participate in early voting, and Richmond saw 15 percent.

"We anticipate for the voters to have a smooth process," Keith Balmer, Richmond's top election official, said. "There may be a line, but maybe not because again, 20,000 people have already voted.”

Balmer said his team will be counting election night totals a little differently than Henrico and Chesterfield.

They’ll start with vote-by-mail totals, move to day-of precinct numbers, and finish with the early in-person votes.

Terry McAuliffe
Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate and former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, reacts after he cast his vote at County Government Center in Fairfax, Va. Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

“I would say by 9 p.m., if everything goes well, fingers crossed, you have all the vote totals," Balmer said.

Chesterfield and Henrico will both count day-of votes first, then early in-person ballots, and end the night with mail-in votes.

"We will print our tapes from all of the in-person machines and by-mail machines at 7 p.m.," said Coakley. "We're not going to wait until 2:30 in the morning like we did last year. We should have all unofficial results in before the 11 o'clock news is our goal."

If you do run into issues at the polls, these officials say be sure to communicate your problem to the poll workers.

"Don't leave," said Hargrove. "Talk to the chief officer, and have them contact us before they leave just to make sure that we can resolve any issues and answer any questions they may have on Election Day. They have the right to vote if they're qualified.”

Election officials also want to remind you to bring a valid ID to the polls and be sure to check your precinct before you head out the door because some locations have changed.

Also, if you requested a mail-in ballot but did not turn it in, officials say to bring it to the polls with you because if you don’t, you could have to cast a provisional ballot.