RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Hundreds of thousands of Virginians have already taken to the polls during early voting for this year’s ‘high stake’ general election, with all 140 General Assembly seats up for grabs.

According to the Virginia Public Access Project, 776,236 Virginians cast their vote during early voting. For the first time since 2019, all 140 General Assembly seats are up for grabs.

8News spoke with political expert Rich Meagher, who said all eyes are on Virginia for this upcoming election.

“National Republicans, the party’s campaign staffers, candidates, they want to know what messages work. They want to see who’s turning out. And everyone’s going to be looking to Virginia to give them some idea of what to expect in next year’s presidential election,” Meagher said.

Currently, the Democrats hold the Senate and the Republicans have a majority in the House. Meagher said whoever controls the House and Senate will greatly impact the future of some high-stake topics on voters’ minds, including abortion.

“So, the Democrats are arguing that if you like Republicans, great. But if you don’t or you’re concerned about their agenda, this is really important election in order to stop them,” Meagher said. “Republicans argue that if you like, their agenda, now is a chance to help them make it happen.”

Other topics of concern include education, crime and the economy.

Meagher adds that despite overall voter turnout being low compared to bigger election years, more Republicans participated in early voting after Governor Glenn Youngkin launched the ‘Secure Your Vote Virginia’ initiative.

“Some folks are wondering if these are people who would vote anyway and now they’re voting a little bit earlier rather than voting on Election Day,” Meagher said.

Meagher said that despite this recent trend, it is still too early for either side to celebrate ahead of Election Day.

“So, as always, with turnout and particularly at the state level, we just don’t have enough data to really know how it’s all going to shake out,” Meagher said.

Polling locations will be open on Tuesday from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. General Registrars from Central Virginia previously told 8News that voters should expect longer wait times for election results, largely due to the longer ballots in this year’s election.