Polls open in Virginia with nearly 3 million votes already cast

2020 Election
Andrew Gillum

A roll of “I Voted!” stickers are shown, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, at the Miami-Dade County Elections Department in Doral, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — More than 2.7 million voters in the commonwealth already cast their ballot in the 2020 election before polls opened in Virginia, a record-breaking early voting turnout in a year shaped by the coronavirus pandemic.

A new law permitting no-excuse absentee voting in Virginia went into effect in July, taking early voting totals to unprecedented heights this election season.

Concerns over the spread of the virus and enthusiasm for the hotly contested election drove voters to head to the polls early, with the 2020 early votes already eclipsing 68 percent of the total votes cast in the last presidential election, according to the U.S. Elections Project, a website tracking early turnout figures in each state.

Nearly 4 million Virginians (3,984,631 of the 5,529,742 registered voters) voted in 2016. This year, 1,854,492 have turned in their ballot in-person, either by voting early or turning in their ballot in person, and 889,428 mail-in ballots.

According to the Virginia Department of Elections, there are 5,763,241 active registered voters in the commonwealth in 2020.

Unlike some states, including some key swing states, Virginia has already “pre-processed” some of its absentee ballots, a process overseen by Democratic and Republican representatives where those ballots are entered into voting machines to help prevent a massive pileup of ballots on Election Day.

In Hanover County, where more than half of the county’s 82,896 registered voters requested an absentee ballot, 10,221 ballots have already been pre-processed, documents shared by Hanover’s registrar show.

Virginia will report Election Day turnout numbers after polls close, but local election officials have been told to wait until an 11 p.m. deadline to share absentee ballot totals. Despite the expected surge of absentee ballots, some results could not come until Friday afternoon.

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