RICHMOND, Va. -- Early, in-person voting for the November election in Virginia begins on Friday. Registered voters can begin casting ballots at their local registrar's office, according to the Virginia Department of Elections.
The race for Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General and House of Delegates districts will be in the hands of voters.
Topping the ticket for Virginia Democrats are former Governor Terry McAuliffe, Delegate Hala Ayala and current Attorney General Mark Herring. McAuliffe is seeking a second term four years after leaving office because Virginia law does not allow the governor to hold office for consecutive terms.
Republicans are hoping to win a statewide office for the first time in more than a decade. The GOP is running former business executive Glenn Youngkin, former delegate Winsome Sears and Delegate Jason Miyares atop their ticket.
Princess Blanding is also on the ballot for governor, running as part of the Liberation Party of Virginia.
In 2019, Democrats won control of the General Assembly. This election will be the first challenge to their majority; they control the House of Delegates 55-45.
“It’s going to be easier to vote in this gubernatorial election than it ever has been,” said CBS 6 Political Analyst Dr. Bob Holsworth, citing voting access reforms passed by Democrats in recent years.
“Historically, the turnout in a governor’s race is 20 to 30 points lower, in most instances, than the presidential race. So, if we had a 75% turnout in the presidential race, you’re going to have a 50% turnout in the gubernatorial race. That might be a high number, some people think,” Holsworth said. “The candidate or party that has the biggest drop off in voters, may be the party that suffers the most this November.”
Both parties are honing their messaging to voters, focusing on national, hot-button issues in many cases, Holsworth said. Republicans have been focusing on public safety and tax cuts, while Democrats are talking about abortion rights and the importance of COVID-19 vaccination efforts.
“We’re beginning to see, I think, a pretty clear distinction in the parties in terms of the message,” Holsworth said, who noted this will be the first election since Democrats began making gains in the legislature now that former President Donald Trump will not be a major issue for most voters.
“What we have seen is a very polarized electorate, almost regardless of what the other side is or what they’re talking about,” Holsworth said. “We really have to think about who’s more excited, who’s more enthusiastic, who’s angrier in some instances. But who is really motivated to come out and vote?”
You can find your local registrar’s office here.
More information on voting early or registering to vote this November can be found here.