RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – With all 140 Virginia General Assembly seats on the line this November, the stakes for the 2023 elections are sky-high.
Republicans hope to maintain control of the House of Delegates and win a majority in the Virginia Senate – a scenario that would give the GOP full control of the state government and be a major boon for Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s legislative agenda.
Democrats are looking to regain the House and at least keep its Senate majority, which would give the party a stronger “brick wall” to block Youngkin’s priorities from passing. Even with just Senate control, Democrats were able to stop efforts to roll back voting law changes and proposed abortion bans.
Voters across Virginia will head to the polls on June 20 for state primaries that will decide many of the candidates for the Nov. 7 elections. Early voting is underway for the primaries and several races are already set.
Here’s what you need to know about the primaries, including the basics, key races in the area and how the redrawing of Virginia’s political map shifted voters to new districts:
Basics to know
Polls will be open for the June 20 primaries from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. People in line by 7 p.m. will be allowed to vote. Virginians have already been casting ballots for the primaries as the early-voting window opened on May 5.
The last day to vote early in person at a local voter registration office or polling site is June 17. The deadline to register to vote or update your registration is May 30, but Virginia allows for same-day registration.
Virginians need to show an accepted form of ID to vote, but it doesn’t have to include a photo. Those without an ID at their polling place can sign a confirmation statement or vote using a provisional ballot.
Those seeking a mail-in absentee ballot can apply for one up until June 9, but the request must be received by the local voter registration office by 5 p.m. Virginia voters don’t register by party so eligible voters can vote in either Democratic or Republican primaries in their district.
Virginia has new districts – but do you?
Virginia’s Supreme Court approved redrawn congressional and legislative districts in late 2021 after the redistricting commission tasked to do the job couldn’t get past partisan squabbling to agree on new maps.
While the districts have been in place, the 2023 state elections will be the first time they are used in General Assembly elections. The 2022 U.S. House elections were under the new congressional districts.
How residents in the new districts will vote won’t be known for sure until the ballots are counted. But an analysis from the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP) calculated each district’s partisan lean using 2021 estimated gubernatorial results.
According to VPAP, Democrats are favored in 19 state Senate districts, Republicans have an edge in 18 and there are three tighter Senate districts. VPAP’s analysis found 45 House districts where voters lean Democratic and 47 that lean Republican. Eight House districts are closer, according to VPAP.
Even before a vote was cast in these new districts, the ramifications of Virginia’s federally required redistricting process have been clear. Several lawmakers opted to retire or not seek re-election to avoid being paired with others or moving from their homes and set up contested primaries.
You can find your local polling place online to learn if your district has changed.
Local races to follow
There are several primaries in and near the central Virginia area, including key races where incumbents are being challenged and lawmakers are going against each other.
This includes two highly contested Virginia Senate primaries, one in which a Democrat is facing off against a former state delegate and another with a Republican trying to hold off two challengers.
State Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield) is squaring off against former state Sen. Glen Sturtevant and Tina Ramirez in the 12th Virginia Senate District primary. This district includes Chesterfield County and the city of Colonial Heights.
And in the 13th Senate District’s Democratic primary, state Sen. Joe Morrissey (D-Petersburg) is going against former Del. Lashrecse Aird. The district is centered in Petersburg but includes voters in the city of Hopewell, Prince George, Charles City, Dinwiddie, Henrico, Surry and Sussex counties.
Another primary to watch out for pits Del. Delores McQuinn (D-Richmond), who has served in the House since 2009, against Democrat Terrence Lavell Walker, who has raised far more than McQuinn running up to the primary. They are facing off in the 81st House District primary, a district that includes Charles City County and parts of Chesterfield and Henrico.
Other key races in the area include state Sen. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath) against Del. Sally Hudson (D-Charlottesville) in the 11th Senate District primary and state Sen. Lamont Bagby (D-Richmond) against fellow Democrat Katie Gooch in the 14th Senate District primary.
Bagby was a state delegate before winning a special election to replace Rep. Jennifer McClellan’s Virginia Senate seat. The district Bagby and Gooch hope to represent includes Henrico and the city of Richmond.