2.7 million and counting: Tracking how many Virginians have voted and what it could mean for the candidates

2020 Election

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond’s elections chief said in late September that “Virginia has clearly embraced no excuse voting,” when data showed that a little more than 200,000 people in the commonwealth had voted early in person and nearly a million had requested an absentee ballot.

A month later, that total number has swelled to an astonishing figure: 2,931,988.

Early voting in Virginia has surged since Sept. 18, the first day it was available, after a new law permitting no-excuse absentee voting went into effect in July. As of Nov. 1, more than 2.7 million Virginians have already voted in this year’s election, a figure that represents more than 68 percent of the 3,984,631 total votes counted in Virginia in the 2016 election.

Virginia’s Department of Elections has reported more than 1.5 million people have voted early in person and nearly 900,000 have returned their mail-in ballots. The total number of absentee ballots cast in Virginia four years ago didn’t eclipse 600,000.

Early voting numbers have hit unprecedented levels across the country, with 95,027,832 Americans already voting in the 2020 Election, according to the U.S. Elections Project, a website tracking early turnout figures in each state.

These figures indicate how eager voters in the country are to return their ballot early and the enthusiasm for this election season.

The site also tracks total votes by party registration — data that some states but not Virginia provides. The U.S. Elections Project shows that 21,233,585 early voters are registered Democrats, 14,218,201 registered as Republicans and 11,059,461 with no party affiliation.

While these numbers may reflect an advantage for Democrats across the country, it cannot guarantee one. Individuals who backed a particular political party in the past don’t necessarily vote for the same party each election.

The nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project is also tracking early voting totals in the commonwealth, with a graph showing the shift in early voting from 2016 to 2020 by congressional districts. Each district has seen a noticeable spike, with four having 200,000 more early voters than in the last presidential election.

In Virginia’s 7th Congressional District race, where Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) and state Del. Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper) are facing off, 238,585 more people have voted early compared to 2016. All of Virginia’s congressional districts have seen six-figure increases.

In Henrico, a key county in the race for the 7th District, 105,791 residents have either voted early or requested an absentee ballot. That’s more than six times the 2016 total. According to the county’s registrar’s office, as of Oct. 28, 60,227 residents have voted early in person, with 40,894 from the 7th District and 19,333 from Virginia’s 4th Congressional District.

In the city of Richmond, where residents are voting for mayor and in nine City Council races, 70,263 people have either voted early or requested an absentee ballot. In 2016, that total was less than 7,000.

This story will be updated daily. Stay with 8News for updates.

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