Early voting numbers released, but what they mean won't be clear for weeks

Posted at 5:31 PM, Oct 20, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-20 17:33:07-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- The early voting numbers are out, but what they mean is not exactly clear.

The Richmond General Registrar said they don't have the early voting numbers from this point before the last election in 2021, when voters narrowly said no to a casino, to compare the numbers with this election, but he says they are trending significantly lower.

Keith Ballmer said 5,500 early or absentee ballots had been cast as of Friday afternoon.
The breakdown by the nine city council districts ranges from just over 300 to over 900, with the 8th district - where the casino would be built- significantly higher with 928 votes cast.
While early voters last time went decisively for the casino, they were overcome by Election Day votes going against it.

CBS6 political analyst Bob Holsworth says that may have been because Republicans, who may have been against having a casino in Richmond, had been discouraged from voting early.

So as what to read from the numbers thus far, Holsworth says it is far from clear.

"In 2021, there was a governor's election, a statewide election here in the city," said Dr. Bob Holsworth. "Right now in 2023, there's not really a competitive race other than the casino in Richmond. Most competitive General Assembly races are down in Petersburg or in Henrico. There's not a lot of interest being generated other than by the casino referendum in this election cycle in the city. It's not surprising that overall numbers are way down."

"Now, if we were in Henrico, where they have Siobhán Dunnavant and Schuyler Van Valkenberg, who have spent $6 million already on their race, and we saw nobody voting, that would be of some concern," he added. "But to me, this is the natural situation. We had a competitive race in 2021."

Richmond Registrar Ballmer said we'll have a clearer picture to compare with 2021 when early voting ends the Saturday before Election Day, November 7.

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