RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC)-Early voting kicked off on Friday in Virginia. Voters have a number of options to make their voices heard ahead of Election Day, which is set for Tuesday, Nov. 8. 

What’s at stake?

In addition to some local races, all eleven of Virginia’s seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are up for grabs. A handful of competitive races could help shift the balance of power in Congress as Republicans try to regain control, according to political analyst Rich Meagher.

“A lot of the Biden Administration’s priorities could be pushed even further by a Democrat Congress or they could be stopped by a Republican Congress,” Meagher said.

Meagher said two House races in Virginia are expected to be more competitive than the rest. In both cases, incumbent Democrats are defending their seats. In District 2, Rep. Elaine Luria (D) faces state Sen. Jen Kiggans (R). In District 7, Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D) is being challenged by Prince William Board of County Supervisors member Yesli Vega (R). 

Some also expect the District 10 race between Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D) and Republican Hung Cao to be competitive. 

Lawmakers trying to win back seats have an additional challenge this election cycle, according to Meagher. District lines were recently redrawn and some candidates have to cater to a new set of voters. Meagher said that may dilute the typical advantage that comes with being an incumbent. 

“Some incumbents have to re-introduce themselves to whole neighborhoods and areas of their district that are brand new and, in other cases, incumbents may find themselves in a district that’s much less friendly to their own party than it used to be,” Meagher said. 

How to vote

Virginians can vote early, in person on any weekday or on the last two Saturdays before Election Day. Under state law, you don’t need to provide an excuse and there are several acceptable forms of identification to choose from. 

Absentee ballots are now being mailed out to military and overseas voters, as well as anyone who has applied to receive one. Any registered voter can request an absentee ballot either in-person, by mail, online or by contacting your general registrar’s office.

Witness signatures are required on all mail-in ballots. Ballots missing a witness signature are at risk of not being counted if the problem is not corrected.

Virginians can return absentee ballots by mail or by using an official drop box located at registrar’s offices and satellite polling locations across the state. Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by Election Day.

If you need to register to vote, the Virginia Department of Elections says you should do so by Oct. 17. However, under a new state law, those that miss that deadline will be able to apply and cast a provisional ballot on the same day.

Helpful Links

Request an absentee ballot here.

Find your general registrar’s office here.

Find your representative here.

Learn more about same-day registration here.

Find a complete list of important dates and deadlines here.