RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The pool of congressional candidates is narrowing in Virginia ahead of a high-stakes General Election on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

It’s a good time to double-check when and how you’re supposed to vote. Recently redrawn congressional lines, different nominating contests in each district and new state voting laws could cause some confusion.

Most of the state’s primary elections are still about a month away but some key Republican races were decided over the weekend. 

Here’s a look at where things stand, what’s at stake and what voters need to know.

What’s at stake

The outcome of elections in Virginia could help tilt the balance of power in Washington D.C., where Democrats currently control the legislative and executive branches.

Neither of Virginia’s two Democratic U.S. Senators are on the ballot this fall but all eleven seats in the House of Representatives are up for grabs. Democratic losses could hinder President Joe Biden’s agenda in the second half of his term.

“Republicans are really looking at this fall’s election as a chance to take back control of Congress and to really be able to put a monkey wrench in plans for Democrats over the next two years,” Political Analyst Rich Meagher said.

Meagher expects most incumbents to stay in power in Virginia but there are two races widely considered toss-ups. In Virginia’s 7th and 2nd Districts, Reps. Abigail Spanberger and Elaine Luria are vulnerable, according to Meagher. Crowded fields of Republican challengers are vying to run against them in primaries set for June 21. Early voting is already underway.

“These purple swing districts are really important for the national battle for control of Congress,” Meagher said. “I do think Republicans have a really good shot at unseating either or both Spanberger or Luria so that brings a lot of challengers. The problem with that is the Republicans are spending a lot of time battling with each other.” 

While individual candidates are important, Meagher thinks hot-button issues will be the main motivator when Virginians go to the polls.

“I think it’s going to be more about national issues. It’s going to be about the economy. It’s going to be about abortion and reproductive rights. Those battles are going to be fought in each district across the country,” Meagher said.

What happened last weekend

Over the weekend, Republicans in three congressional districts chose their nominees. The winners will compete in the General Election.

In the 5th District, incumbent GOP Rep. Bob Good beat out a Republican challenger in a party-run convention.

In the 8th District’s convention, Karina Lipsman, a former defense and intelligence professional, came out on top.

Meagher said the biggest upset of the weekend happened in the 10th District’s firehouse primary with ranked-choice voting, the same method used to select current Gov. Glenn Youngkin in a statewide contest last year. Another political newcomer, U.S. Navy Captain Hung Cao, bested ten Republican candidates for the nomination. Cao will now challenge Rep. Jennifer Wexton, the Democratic incumbent.

“It suggests that Republican voters are interested in embracing new faces, maybe not new policies,” Meagher said. “Ranked choice voting allows the preferences of lots of different people and not just the party faithful, the core, to be able to be reflected in the choices.”

How to vote and where

Virginia’s early voting period for congressional primaries began on May 6 and will last 45 days. Eligible voters don’t need an excuse to cast an absentee ballot under a new state law.

Virginians can vote absentee through the mail or in person at their local general registrar’s office, or at any voting satellite site in their locality. The final day to vote early in person is Saturday, June 18, at 5 p.m., and the last day to request a mail-in absentee ballot is June 10 by 5 p.m.

Absentee ballots that are mailed in must be postmarked by Election Day — June 21 — and received by the local registrar’s office by noon on June 24. Voters can also drop off their absentee ballots at any designated drop-off location or polling place in their locality.

Virginia underwent its required redistricting process this year, shifting some people’s districts. Voters can find their district, their registration status and polling places in their area online.

Where things stand 

District 1

Candidates

  • Republican Incumbent: Rep. Rob Wittman
  • Democrat: Herb Jones                                    
  • Independent: Austin Nichols

Status of nominating contests

  • No Republican or Democratic Primary

District 2

Candidates

  • Democratic Incumbent: Rep. Elaine Luria
  • Republicans: Tommy Altman, Andy Baan, Jarome Bell and state Sen. Jen Kiggans (Virginia Beach)
  • Green Party: Garry Hubbard

Status of nominating contests

  • Republican Primary: June 21
  • No Democratic Primary

District 3

Candidates

  • Democratic Incumbent: Rep. Robert “Bobby” Scott 
  • Republicans: Theodore Engquist, Terry Namkung

Status of nominating contests

  • Republican Primary: June 21
  • No Democratic Primary

District 4

Candidates

  • Democratic Incumbent: Rep. Donald McEachin
  • Republican: Leon Benjamin

Status of nominating contests

  • No Republican or Democratic Primary

District 5

Candidates

  • Republican Incumbent: Rep. Bob Good
  • Democrat: Joshua Throneburg

Status of nominating contests

  • Republican Convention: May 21
  • No Democratic Primary

District 6

Candidates

  • Republican Incumbent: Rep. Benjamin Lee Cline
  • Republican Challenger: Merritt Hale  
  • Democrat: Jennifer Lewis
  • Independent: Danny LeBeau

Status of nominating contests

  • Republican Primary: June 21
  • No Democratic Primary

District 7

Candidates

  • Democratic Incumbent: Rep. Abigail Spanberger 
  • Republicans: Gary Adkins, Derrick Anderson, Gina Ciarcia, state Sen. Bryce Reeves (Spotsylvania), David Ross, Stafford County Board Chair Crystal Vanuch and Prince William Board Supervisor Yesli Vega

Status of nominating contests

  • Republican Primary: June 21
  • No Democratic Primary

District 8

Candidates

  • Democratic Incumbent: Rep. Don Beyer
  • Democratic Challenger: Victoria Virasingh
  • Republican: Karina Lipsman
  • Independent: Teddy Fikre

Status of nominating contests

  • Democratic Primary: June 21
  • Republican Convention: May 21

District 9

Candidates

  • Republican Incumbent: Rep. Morgan Griffith
  • Democrat: Taysha DeVaughan

Status of nominating contests

  • No Republican or Democratic Primary

District 10

Candidates

  • Democratic Incumbent: Rep. Jennifer Wexton
  • Republican: Hung Cao

Status of nominating contests

  • Republican Firehouse Primary: May 21
  • No Democratic Primary

District 11

Candidates

  • Democratic Incumbent: Rep. Gerry Connolly
  • Republican: Jim Myles

Status of nominating contests

  • Republican Firehouse Primary: May 7
  • No Democratic Primary