With Tuesday’s voter registration deadline having now passed, the Commonwealth is entering the final stretches before the general elections in November and Virginians have been feverishly casting their votes with nearly 1 million in-person and absentee ballots already submitted.
Specifically, 532,983 in-person votes and 444,390 votes by mail have already been cast in the state with an additional 642,687 absentee ballot applications that have not yet been returned to general registrars, according to the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP) early voting dashboard.
Even with just under three weeks still to go until election day, the 2020 total for mail-in votes is less than 100,000 away from equaling or surpassing the 2016 mail-in total of 538,140, according to VPAP.
Since early voting began in Virginia on September 18, an average of 48,748 votes have been cast per day. The highest single-day for voting so far occurred on September 28 with 88,756 total, 55,600 by mail and 33,156 in person, according to early voting dashboard.
On Sunday, VPAP wrote on Twitter: “At halfway point of early voting, 28 percent of registered voters in Virginia have cast ballots or have requested a mail ballot.”
At halfway point of early voting, 28% of registered voters in #Virginia have cast ballots or have requested a mail ballot. In-person remains steady, while mail ballots tapered off last week. See your city or county in VPAP's Early Voting Dashboard. https://t.co/TUHIAEwG43 pic.twitter.com/kAV4KJCUlp
— vpapupdates (@vpapupdates) October 11, 2020
The Virginia Star reached out to Rich Anderson, chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, and Susan Swecker, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Virginia, for comment on the early voting numbers.
“Well, we’re obviously in an unusual situation this year and that is with the COVID-19 concerns that people have I think there is a far, far greater number who wish to vote either by mail or vote early in person,” Anderson told The Star. “What we have been encouraging, in the Republican Party of Virginia, is for people to vote in-person either early or on time for the simple reason that by voting in that way nothing comes between the voter’s ballot and the ballot box.”
Swecker did not respond to multiple requests for comment by press time.
Looking at the breakdown of mail and in-person voting between the different counties and cities in Virginia offers insight into the preferred voting method for residents of those areas during a time when some people may not want to physically submit their ballot while others do.
In Fairfax County, Virginia’s largest county, of the roughly 105,000 votes already cast, the vast majority of those were submitted by mail (84,000), according to VPAP.
Comparatively, in Chesterfield County there has been slightly under 40,000 votes so far, but 21,569 (55 percent) have been in-person while 18,827 have been by mail, according to VPAP.
For many counties in the less densely populated, more rural southwestern part of Virginia more ballots have been cast in-person versus by mail overall.
This is also illustrated by VPAP’s potential absentee ballot by precinct visualization which shows that in many rural precincts less than 20 percent of registered voters have applied for absentee ballots.
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