By Leonard E. Colvin
New Journal and Guide
The 2023 General Election Campaign is well underway, and the two major parties are bidding for control of the State House of Delegates and Senate.
All 40 seats in the State Senate and 100 seats in the State House of Delegates are on the ballot on November 7.
Republicans have a narrow 3-seat majority in the House; five seats are currently vacant, and the parties are battling for those.
The Democrats have a five-seat majority in the Senate and hope to retain or expand on those numbers.
With Conservative Republican Glenn Youngkin sitting in the Governor’s Mansion for the next two years, if Republicans should capture both chambers come November 7, that would give the GOP control of the reins of power of state government in the Commonwealth.
The outcome will determine the future of Virginia’s political control and whether the state will lean toward conservative policies of the Republicans or the more moderate to progressive stances of state Democrats.
Both parties are campaigning on the issue of abortion, the debate over transgender students’ and parents’ rights, education, and how the state spends the receipts in the state coffers.
Governor Youngkin has been touted and is being recruited to jump into the Republican primary race for President.
There are at least 9 candidates seeking the primary at this time.
Former President Donald J. Trump has a 40-point lead on average over his nearest opponent in the polls Governor Ron Desantis of Florida. But Desantis, like the other rivals, has failed to make inroads on GOP primary voters who support Trump
If Youngkin leads the Republican legislative candidates to victory in November, his political stock will rise. National GOP leaders fear Trump’s many legal woes may drag him down if he should win the nomination and face President Biden again.
Political experts say mega donors may divert millions of dollars from Trump and support the Virginia Governor.
Over the past two election cycles, national and state Republican leaders have denounced early voting.
Former President Trump has claimed Democrats used it to commit fraud and win elections including the one he lost in 2020.
There has been no evidence of it. Trump and a number of his supporters have been indicted for seeking to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia, especially, and promoting an attack on the U.S. Capitol on the day the election was certified on January 6.
The early voting period in Virginia is the longest in the country, beginning on September 22 and will run 45 days prior to the November 7 General Election.
But instead of attacking the early mail and walk-in voting which ends November 4, Gov. Youngkin and other party leaders have been urging Republican voters to embrace the option.
Political analysts say that the easy and long early voting period, the longest of any southern state, has aided Democrats in sustaining their voter clout, especially among African-Americans and younger voters.
According to the Virginia Public Access (VPAP) website site, Youngkin’s plea may be working.
For instance, for the first time in Republican-leaning House District 71 which includes James City County and Williamsburg, 2,000-plus early voting ballots have been cast.
Early voting trends are up in other GOP-leaning and competitive districts, where both parties have an even chance of snatching it.
The results in a handful of races may determine which party will come out on top in both houses of the legislature.
But as the parties are seeking to compete with their respective messages on the key issues, that will determine the outcome of this election, Democrats are working to drive up their early voting too.
State Democratic leaders report that the national party has injected more than $3 million into close legislative races and voter turnout efforts.
Campaign ads are showing on YouTube and local TV stations, with images of Democrats in them. By the last week of the campaign, voters will see even more.
Governor Youngkin, leveraging his popularity among mega-Republican donors has been able to attract large chunks of cash he has been funneling into key races.
The first day of in-person early voting at your local registrar’s office was Friday, September 22, 2023.
Deadline to register to vote or update an existing registration is October 16, 2023. Voters may register after this date, through Election Day, and vote using a provisional ballot.
The deadline to apply for a ballot to be mailed to you is October 27. Your request must be received by your local voter registration office by 5 p.m.
Voter registration offices open for early voting: on Saturday, October 28.
The last day of in-person early voting at your local voter registration office is Saturday, November 4. at 5 p.m.
You have until 7 p.m. election night to turn in an early ballot at your registrar’s office to be counted.
Early Voting Is Underway
Most cities in Hampton Roads have some form of early voting.
In Chesapeake, early voting sites are at the city’s Central, Indian River, Major Hilliard, and Russell Memorial Libraries.
All of those sites will be open Monday to Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. On October 28 and November 4, both Saturdays, they will be open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
HAMPTON & NEWPORT NEWS
The Registrar’s office at 101 King’s Way is the only early voting site in Hampton. They will operate from Monday to Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. On October 22 (Sunday) it will be open from 1-5 p.m. and on October 28 and November 4 from 1-5 p.m.
In Newport News, there is only one site at the City Center Fountain Plaza. It will be open Tuesday and Thursday, 8 a.m.- 5 p.m., and October 23, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
In Norfolk, one can vote early at the central office Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at City Hall.
The walk-in early voting Satellite will be at the Berkley and Lambert’s Point Recreation Centers, and Jordan-Newby and Pretlaw Libraries.
All of them will be open during the same hours: October 24 and 26 from 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; October 25, 27, and 28 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; October 29 from Noon-4 p.m.; November 1-3 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and November 4 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Portsmouth has early walk-in voting only at the Main Registrar’s office at City Hall from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. starting October 23 on Monday-Friday.
On Sunday, October 22, from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. and October 28 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. On Saturday, October 28, and November 4 from 8-5 p.m.
In Virginia Beach, there are early voting sites at Bayside, Great Neck, and Seatack Recreation Centers, and the Central Kempsville Branch Libraries from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. There will be Saturday voting at these same sites from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. October 28 and November 4.
Residents of each city may call the Registrar’s Office or go to their respective websites for additional information including new voting sites and to register online.
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