Increase in Republican early voting turnout at polls, still expected to skew Democratic in Virginia

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC)– As Virginia is experiencing a very close election at the local and state level, political experts are weighing in on how early voting will impact each party’s vote.

According to the Virginia Department of Elections, 5.9 million people are registered to vote in the state. 8News’ Political Analyst Rich Meagher said many have chosen to vote early.

“Now we have almost a million early votes and if the turnout is anything like it was in 2017, it may not be half the votes but it’s close to it,” Meagher said.

Keith Balmer is currently the City of Richmond’s Voter Registrar. Balmer said the city has 157,000 registered voters and 20,000 residents have cast their ballots in-person and by mail.

On the last day of early voting Saturday, Oct. 30, polling locations will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Today, Henrico residents did not let the rain stop them from voting at the Eastern Government Center located at 3820 Nine Mile Road. That early voting location, along with others, will be open Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Henrico County also offers five different drop boxes:

  • Tuckahoe Library
  • Deep Run Park
  • Varina Library
  • Henrico Western Government Center
  • Henrico Eastern Government Center

Chesterfield residents can visit the General Registrar’s office from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow. Residents can also visit five different library locations like North Courthouse Road.

“Hours for the last day of Early Voting tomorrow may vary. If they are not sure, they should contact their local registrar’s office,” Balmer said.

In the meantime, Meagher said more Republicans are voting early this year.

“At the same time, Republicans have been raising questions about election integrity for the past couple of years and I think their voters are still wary of voting early,” Meagher said.

According to Meagher, early voting has always been skewed towards the Democratic party, but this year we might see a slight change. Last year an overwhelming majority of early voters were democrats.

“This year it’ll probably be closer to an even split,” Meagher said.

He said races are very close this year not just at the state level but in a couple of districts.

“I encourage people to be patient. We may not have results immediately and we might even be waiting until Wednesday to see the results of some of these races,” Meagher said. “Here in Virginia we always call election night ‘waiting for Fairfax.’ It’s the biggest county and it just takes a while for them to report their votes so we’re always waiting around to see what the votes are like. Like we saw last year, we might end up waiting around for a while.”

Although the mail-in ballot request deadline has passed, registered voters can still visit a polling location to vote early. You must bring photo identification.

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