CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WRIC) — Polls were packed across central Virginia Tuesday as voters waited for their chance to choose the Democratic nominee to succeed the late Representative Donald McEachin.
At Meadowvale Library in Chesterfield — the only polling location in the county — cars were backed up from the library parking lot onto nearby Hopkins Road, with voters in a line out the doors and stretching halfway around the building.
One voter, Sharon Carr, told 8News that as of 5:30 p.m., the line of cars at Meadowdale Library was at least a mile long.
“Officers have snaked the line through the Meadowbrook High School parking lot to avoid backing up traffic to Iron Bridge Road,” she said.
Polls were also packed at a Richmond location, where drivers were backed up about a quarter mile from Diversity Thrift, where the polling was held. Diversity was one of just two polling locations set up in Richmond.
There are four candidates in the Democratic contest, the winner of which will face Republican Leon Benjamin in the special election. Benjamin, who lost to Representative Donald McEachin in a landslide this November, is considered unlikely to win, regardless of his opponent.
The two frontrunners in the Democratic primary are state senators Jennifer Mclellan and Joe Morrisey, both of whom represent districts in Virginia’s southside.
A Mclellan volunteer at Meadowvale Library told 8News that the long wait to vote was the fault of Governor Glenn Youngkin, who set the special elections for February 21.
“There’s been a little frustration” with the long lines and wait times, she said. “We weren’t able to open as many precincts.”
She nevertheless said she was confident Mclellan would win, and added that she decided to support Mclellan based on her record on education.
A Morrissey volunteer at the same polling place was handing out blue “sample ballots” — pre-marked examples used to show prospective voters how the campaign wants them to vote.
“I’ve been a Richmond citizen all my life,” the volunteer said, adding that he had been incarcerated for several years, and he supported Morrissey because, “I believe everyone deserves a second chance.”
Polls will be open until 7 p.m. at eight locations across the fourth district, but anyone in line by 7 p.m. will still be allowed to vote, even if the long lines keep them tied up after the official close.