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Democratic state leaders come together in Virginia Beach to discuss voting rights

Voters will soon decide who sits in Congress and in local government, with midterms just 23 days away.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — The midterms are just 23 days away and voters will decide who sits in Congress and in local government.

Thursday night, Virginia Beach Councilman Aaron Rouse joined Democratic state leadership to make sure you know your rights ahead of Election Day on November 8.

Democratic State Sens. Mamie Locke and Jennifer McClellan and Democratic State Del. Cia Price took the stage at the voting rights event. They spoke about the history of voting in the U.S, specifically for African Americans, and where the country stands today.

RELATED: 2022 Midterm Election Voter Guide

"Our vote is our power and that is why we have to fight so hard to keep it," Sen. McClellan told the crowd of about 30.

Looking specifically at this election cycle in Virginia Beach, Rouse said the city now has district voting, meaning you can only vote for the candidate running in your district or an at-large position.

RELATED: What Virginia Beach city leaders want the public to know about the new voting system in wake of heated debate

Robin Kessler with the Democratic Party of Virginia told the crowd the new voting system means about 15 voting precincts are changing. She emphasized even if you’ve voted in the same place for the last 20 years, you still need to check where your precinct is.

Del. Price looked back on what has already been accomplished in the Commonwealth in the last two years, specifically the Voting Rights Act of Virginia introduced in 2021. It's a law that prohibits racial discrimination in voting and establishes a preclearance provision for proposed changes to election administration, among other provisions. 

RELATED: A look at the new laws that helped shape Virginia's 2021 elections

She said they’ve also expanded types of voter ID, created 45 days of early voting, and just this year, same-day voter registration.

"Prior to 2020, we were ranked 49th out of 50 states and D.C. for how hard, or easy, it is to vote. Now, according to this year’s report, we are 11th," said Price.

Looking to the future in Virginia, Locke said she is once again proposing a constitutional amendment during the next session that would make the sole qualifications to vote being a U.S. citizen, a Virginia resident and at least 18 years old.

RELATED: Virginia considering restoring voting rights to felons

"Such right cannot be abridged by law. That’s the most important part," she said, noting that if a new General Assembly is elected and it's not abridged by law they could vote to reintroduce IDs.

Overall, the state leaders urged everyone to get out and vote for someone who has your best interest at heart.

"Your vote matters, y’all," said Price.

If you run into any problems casting your ballot, you can call the Election Protection Hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE.

Monday is the last day to register to vote. However, you can register after the deadline this year, but you'll vote using a provisional ballot.

If you want to vote absentee, you need to get your request in by October 28.

In-person early voting ends Saturday, November 5.

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