Less than two weeks before the Midterm elections, state and local election officials are seeing an upswing in the number of Virginians who are casting their votes early via absentee ballot.
Unlike other states which allow voters to go to polling places to cast a vote early, the only option Virginians have is absentee voting.
They have up to Nov. 3 to vote absentee.
As of October 22, according to the Virginia State Board of Elections and the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP) websites, 95,616 Virginians have applied via mail or in person to vote absentee, since it began Sept. 15.
Both organizations and local election officials say that number will grow.
According to Stephanie L. Iles, Norfolk’s Director of Elections and General Registrar, this year’s absentee ballots will exceed November 2014 when the city recorded 1,475 ballots for that year’s midterms.
“The number of ballots issued thus far for this election has exceeded and may double that or more from the November 2014 election,” she said.
In Virginia Beach, according to Donna Patterson, the Director of Elections, as of October 22, some 1,808 people have voted in-person at her office.
Also, some 7,654 have applied to vote absentee via the mail and must send them back to be counted before election day.
“We have been really busy,” said Patterson. “We had a higher number than last year for the Governor’s race (3,768) and higher for the Presidential race. But thus far this fall we have had a huge response.”
Virginia Beach has curbside absentee voting services for people who are physically unable to enter the City Hall building.
Physical disabilities are one of 17 reasons Virginians may give to qualify to vote absentee.
Both Republican and Democrat party operatives are especially interested in the early voting trends in Virginia Beach since most of the 2nd Congressional District is nestled within its borders.
Democrat Elaine Luria is challenging incumbent Republican Scott Taylor in the 2nd District. Democrats are hoping that it will be one of 23 seats the party needs to win back the House Of Representatives on November 6.
According to the Christopher Newport University’s Wason Center for Political Studies, their poll shows Taylor is ahead by 7 points.
Dr. Quentin Kidd, Vice Provost and Director of the Wason Center, said with the high level of early voting, it could bode well for Luria.
Still turnout is the key for Democrats and Republicans.
Although President Trump is not on the ballot, he will be a factor for voters because 52 percent of the voters in the 2nd District disapprove of his activities in the White House.
By Leonard E. Colvin
New Journal and Guide