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'Strong interest' in early voting in Virginia, election directors say

Election Day is less than three weeks away and early votes are pouring into precincts across the state.

SUFFOLK, Va. — Early voting is underway in Virginia and general registrars across the state are seeing a lot of people showing up to cast their ballots.

Election directors said there is strong interest in early voting across Virginia.

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Suffolk General Registrar Burdette Lawrence said more than 250 ballots are coming in every day.

“We’re nearly at the presidential level," Lawrence said. “We’re only about 400 voters from being at our presidential level of numbers.”

Lawrence added: “We’re prepared for it. It’s just a lot earlier than normal. Normally we see these numbers maybe the week before the election. We started seeing these numbers two weeks ago.” 

According to figures from the Virginia Department of Elections, the number of early voters this year compared to the last midterm election is already close.

More than 302,000 thousand people have voted early so far across the state. During the 2018 midterm elections, more than 344,000 thousand people voted in total.

Breaking down those numbers by Hampton Roads cities shows thousands of people in our area have already voted.

  • Suffolk: 2,781
  • Newport News: 4,402
  • Hampton: 4,170
  • Norfolk: 5,162
  • Virginia Beach: 7,847
  • Chesapeake: 4,391
  • Portsmouth: 1,300+ 

Portsmouth General Registrar Alexandra Abell said early votes have already outpaced 2018. 

“2018 election overall, we have 1,026," Abell said. "That’s for the whole 45-day voting period so we’ve already surpassed that.”

But will high early voting numbers mean higher turnout on Election Day? Abell says maybe not.

“People will still also probably show up on Election Day," Abell said. "But the highest traffic here lessens the amount that will show up on Election Day.”

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Early voting is more accessible than ever. Hampton Registrar Tara Morgan said in a statement: “This is the first midterm election since Virginia allowed early voting and no-excuse absentee voting.”

Newport News General Registrar Vicki Lewis said this is likely leading to high numbers for early voting.

“I think it makes it easier for voters, yes," Lewis said. "Voters can now request to vote absentee ballot to be mailed directly to them or they can appear in person to vote early 45 days before an election.”

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