PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Control of the General Assembly and subsequent stakes such as abortion access are on the ballot this year in Virginia.

All 100 House of Delegates and 40 Virginia State Senate seats are up for grabs, in addition to many local-level races. Before then, voters will pick who’ll be on those general election ballots through Virginia’s primary elections, which are already underway after early voting started on May 5.

You can vote in-person or via absentee, with in-person voting ending on Saturday, June 17, ahead of the Tuesday, June 20 primary election day. The last day to request an absentee ballot is June 9.

Virginia is an open primary state, meaning voters don’t have to be registered with a party ahead of time to participate in that party’s primary. Though they will have to pick one party’s ballot when they do go to vote. Those will also include races for any nonpartisan local positions.

The political field will look much different this year after redistricting in 2022, which helped lead to retirements for many longtime legislators in the General Assembly, including Senate Minority Leader Tommy Norment (R-Williamsburg), Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax), Del. Glenn Davis (R-Virginia Beach), Sen. Lynwood Lewis (D-Accomack) and Del. Mike Mullin (D-Newport News).

Many who are staying will square off in competitive primaries for the first time in years. The most high-profile example in Hampton Roads, and arguably statewide, is between Senate President Pro Tempore Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth) and another longtime legislator in Sen. Lionell Spruill (D-Chesapeake).

The two are in the new State Senate District 18, a Democrat-leaning district that features parts of both Lucas’ Portsmouth and Spruill’s Chesapeake. Both have been advertising heavily, with Spruill going on offense first with an attack ad featuring a parody of Lucas’ Hummer.

We’ll have some of the more prominent local races further in the guide. In the meantime, here’s more info on how to vote, get registered, and more:

Early voting

In-person early voting began Friday, May 5, and goes through Saturday, June 17 at 5 p.m.

You can vote in person at your local registrar’s office and voter registration offices (starting Saturday, June 10) or by mail via absentee ballot.

The deadline to request a ballot be mailed to you is June 9 (contact your local registration office by 5 p.m.)

Servicemembers who don’t receive their absentee ballot in time may vote using a Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB), available at www.fvap.gov.

The deadline to register to vote in the primary election is May 30, 2023, though voters who register after that date can vote via provisional ballot.

You can register to vote, check your registration status, and more at the Virginia Department of Elections website.

Who can vote?

To register to vote in Virginia, you must meet these criteria, according to the Virginia Department of Elections

  • Be a resident of Virginia (a person who has come to Virginia for temporary purposes and intends to return to another state is not considered a resident for voting purposes).
  • Be a U. S. Citizen.
  • Be 18 years old (any person who is 17 years old and will be eighteen years of age at the next general election shall be permitted to register in advance and also vote in any intervening primary or special election).
  • Not be registered and plan to vote in another state.
  • Not currently declared mentally incompetent by a court of law.
  • If convicted of a felony, your right to vote must have been restored.

Those without a valid Virginia Driver’s license or state ID can still vote by signing an ID statement affirming their identity or vote via provisional ballot.

For instructions to register to vote and to register, click here.

Who’s running in Hampton Roads?

Here are some of the most competitive and/or notable primaries, many of which will likely determine the general election winner (due to voting demographics/lack of general election challenger).

Senate District 18 (Democratic primary)

This matchup between longtime incumbents in state Sen. Louise Lucas and state Sen. Lionell Spruill is by far the most publicized in the Hampton Roads area this year. Whoever comes through will be the heavy favorite in the general against either Tony Goodwin or Merle Travis Rutledge, Jr. The two Republicans are facing off in a firehouse primary on June 10.

House District 94 (Republican primary)

The race for the new “competitive” District 94 in the Ocean View/Willoughby Spit area, which brought together voters from the old districts 79, 100, 90, 83, and 89, includes a Republican primary with candidates Amy Chudzinski, Kenneth Gerard O’Brien and Andrew Pittman. The winner will face off with Democrat Phil Hernandez, who lost in the 2019 general election by 881 votes (51.89% to 48.04%) to Del. Rob Bloxom in the old District 100.

Senate District 21 (Democratic primary)

This primary is between two well-known Norfolk politicians: Andria McClellan and Angelia Williams Graves. Williams Graves, a former Norfolk vice mayor, and councilwoman elected to the former 90th District in the Virginia House is now running for the Virginia Senate in the strongly Democratic District 21, which combines most of the former districts 5 and 6 (nearly all of Norfolk City outside of East Ocean View). She’ll face fellow Democrat and current Norfolk Councilwoman Andria McClellan, who ran in a crowded 2021 field for Virginia lieutenant governor. As of May 15, McClellan had outraised Williams Graves by more than $130,000, per VPAP.org.

Senate District 19 (Republican primary)

Republican Del. Tim Anderson (formerly 83rd House District) is not primarying incumbent Robert Bloxom in the new House 100th District. He’s instead running in the heavily-Republican Senate District 19, which features an entirely new (100%) set of voters for him to try to win over in southern Virginia Beach and Chesapeake. He’s facing two Republicans in the primary, Jeff Bruzzesi and Christie Craig. Myra Payne is the lone Democrat running.

House District 84 (Republican + Democratic primaries)

This brand new open seat is labeled as “competitive” by VPAP.org and includes mostly Suffolk voters (51,286), with more from Isle of Wight (8,907) and Franklin (5,919), and a small bit of Chesapeake (321). It’s an entirely different geographical area for former Del. Nadarius Clark, who stepped down from his old, more Democratic-friendly seat in Portsmouth to run in the 84th. He faces Michele Joyce in the Democratic primary. Michael Dillender and Rod Thompson are the Republican candidates.

House District 96 (Democratic primary)

Incumbent Democrat Kelly Convirs-Fowler will face three challengers in District 96, a Democratic-leaning district in southwestern Virginia Beach that includes a large chunk of voters from Convirs-Fowler’s former district 21 (40,965). She’s up against Democrats Susan Hippen, Brandon Hutchins, and Sean Monteiro. No Republican has announced at this time.

Senate District 17 (Republican primary)

Del. Emily Brewer (previously in House District 64) is facing off with former NASCAR driver Hermie Sadler in the Republican primary for the newly formed Republican-leaning district, which runs from Portsmouth, Suffolk and Isle of Wight countries, all the way out west to Brunswick County. The winner of the primary will face off with Democratic Del. Clint Jenkins.

House District 95 (Democratic primary)

This new district — 91% (southwestern) Virginia Beach and 9% Norfolk has no incumbent, but leans Democratic, per VPAP.org. Currently, the only two people are running are Democrats in former Del. Alex Askew (in then House District 85) and Richard “Rick” James.

House District 92

The primary in this heavily Democratic district (mostly formed by Del. Jackie Glass’ old District 89) is essentially the race for delegate (no Republican has announced at this time). It pits together two political newcomers Bonita Anthony and Kim Sudderth. Glass, who won the special election to fill the former 89th in 2022, is now running for reelection in the new House District 93 (representing the interior portions of Norfolk).

Notable incumbent legislators who are not being primaried

  • Barry Knight (R-Virginia Beach): The Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee brings along many voters (27,707) from his former House District 81 into the newly drawn District 98. It also has 33,696 voters from Republican Del. Glenn Davis’ former House District 84. Davis decided to not challenge Knight.
  • Don Scott (D-Portsmouth): The lack of a primary here comes as no surprise. Scott is the House Minority Leader and is in a strong Democratic 88th District that hasn’t changed much from redistricting.
  • Sen. Bill DeSteph (R-Virginia Beach): DeSteph, an incumbent from the former District 8 (most of Virginia Beach) is now in the new District 20. The Republican-leaning district cuts off most of the southern portion of Virginia Beach and adds all of the Eastern Shore and part of Norfolk. DeSteph does not have a primary opponent and would have likely faced longtime Sen. Lynwood Lewis in the general election. Lewis retired this year after more than 20 years in the General Assembly.
  • Del. Robert Bloxom (R-Accomack): Bloxom will not face a primary challenger after Del. Tim Anderson opted to run for State Senate. Bloxom’s new 100th District includes all of his home turf of the Eastern Shore.

Deadlines to remember

You can vote in person at your local registrar’s office and voter registration offices (starting Saturday, June 10) through Saturday, June 17, or by mail via absentee ballot. Absentee ballots must be completed and returned to your local general registrar’s office by 7 p.m. on Election Day.

The deadline to request a ballot be mailed to you is June 9 (contact your local registration office by 5 p.m.)

The deadline to register to vote in the primary election is May 30, 2023, though voters who register after that date can vote via provisional ballot.

Virginia’s general election day is on Tuesday, November 7, with early voting starting on Friday, September 22.

You can register to vote, check your registration status, and read more about election dates at the Virginia Department of Elections website.