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Early voter turnout is lower than last year but officials are still 'pleased' with the numbers

In Virginia Beach, more than 2,500 people have voted early so far.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Early voting is underway in Virginia and election officials are reporting much lower numbers than last year’s presidential election.

Tuesday is the eighth day of in-person voting. In Virginia Beach, more than 2,500 people have already voted in person, according to general registrar Donna Patterson.

“Somewhere over 200 a day, some days it’s 300. So we’ve had some increasing and some decreasing but each day we can count on having voters here, which is great," she said.

Let’s compare those numbers to last year. A record-breaking number of people decided to vote early last November.

“Last presidential [election] we had almost 1,000 a day," Patterson said.

This year, things are a lot quieter, but despite that drop in numbers, Patterson said this is still a good turnout.  

"We’re very pleased with the turnout - and some days it may go as high as 400 but voters are voting, which is good," Patterson said. "In my years of doing this, I’ve found that you’ll never have presidential numbers in a non-presidential year.”

Patterson said her office has mailed more than 13,000 ballots to people, so far. A witness signature is required if you’re voting by mail this year.

September 28 is also National Voter Registration Day. Gaylene Kanoyton of the Hampton NAACP is leading efforts on the Peninsula to get people registered to vote. She said her team is also seeing lower numbers when it comes to voter registration.  

“It’s not as robust as the presidential election," Kanoyton said. “Not as much as I’d like to see but you know, every vote counts and every voter registration counts; and so if we got to do it one vote at a time, one voter registration at a time, then we’ll do that.”

Kanoyton acknowledged presidential elections usually attract more interest from voters. Her team is working to help people sign up to vote before the deadline on October 12.

She also stressed it’s important to double-check your registration status.  

"If you are already a registered voter, it’s very important that you check your information in the system to ensure it’s correct," Kanoyton said. 

The Hampton NAACP’s national voter registration day drive-through party is going on from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday night. Anyone can head over to “Bowman's Soul-N-The Wall” on North Armistead Avenue to register to vote.

You can also register online or check your registration status by visiting, iwillvote.com

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