RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – The Democratic nominees for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general are expected to be set following Tuesday’s Virginia primaries.
Before polls opened at 6 a.m., nearly 120,000 ballots were cast early across the commonwealth.
Since the state legislature approved no-excuse absentee voting, early turnout numbers in Virginia have grown. While early voting figures are not expected to ever reach the unprecedented heights of the 2020 presidential election, before there were COVID-19 vaccines, top election officials say the change has led to a noticeable difference.
“We’ve had voters, we’ve not had a lot of voters,” Constance Hargrove, Chesterfield County’s director of elections, said in a May 27 interview. “But because of no-excuse absentee voting we’ve had more voters in a primary than we normally would have.”
Even though early ballots can’t be tallied until primary day, a breakdown from the Virginia Department of Elections shows whether a voter cast a Democratic or Republican ballot for the primary.
With Virginia not registering its voters by political party, any registered voter can take part in the primary but must only select one ballot. Based on the ballot they choose, primary voters will select candidates for the top three statewide offices, House of Delegates and some local races.
What will be on the Democratic primary ballot?
Ballots are going to vary depending on where you live, but Democratic primary ballots across Virginia will have candidates for three statewide races.
There are five Democrats seeking the party’s nomination in the governor’s race: Del. Lee Carter (Manassas), state Sen. Jennifer McClellan (Richmond), Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy and former governor Terry McAuliffe.
Six candidates – Del. Sam Rasoul (Roanoke), Del. Hala Ayala (Prince William), Del. Mark Levine (Alexandria), Sean Perryman, Xavier Warren and Andria McClellan — are competing in the lieutenant governor’s race.
Attorney General Mark Herring is seeking a third term in office against challenger Del. Jay Jones (Norfolk) in the primary.
Democrats in the Virginia House of Delegates are facing more challengers than Republicans in the primary, with 14 incumbents having to run in the primary. In total, voters in 19 House districts will select Democratic nominees for the general election.
According to the state’s Department of Elections, just over 41,000 voters have mailed in their ballot and nearly 40,000 have voted early in person for the Democratic primary. More than 500,000 voters cast a ballot in the 2017 primary, when Gov. Ralph Northam and Lt. Gov. Fairfax won the Democratic nomination.
In terms of early voting, 115,284 Democratic primary ballots were submitted before Tuesday, data from the state’s Department of Elections shows.
What will be on the Republican primary ballot
The Virginia GOP opted for a party-run convention in early May to select its statewide candidates, leaving those races up to convention delegates and not primary voters.
Glenn Youngkin secured the Republican nomination for governor. Winsome Sears won the party’s lieutenant governor’s race and Del. Jason Miyares (Virginia Beach) is the GOP’s nominee for attorney general.
There are seven House district races on the Republican primary ballot, with only three incumbents being challenged for the party’s nomination.
Like the Democratic ballot, voters in those districts who select a Republican ballot will pick between those candidates. Local GOP races will also be on some ballots across Virginia.
With the major Republican contests already settled, it remains unclear how many typical GOP voters will head to the polls on June 8. Only certain localities have GOP primary contests and Republican voters have shown less enthusiasm for early voting than Democrats and have the option to vote in the Democratic races in the primary.
According to the Virginia Department of Elections, 2,062 Republican ballots were submitted early, either through in-person voting or mail, for the primary.
What comes after the primary?
Once polls close on June 8 and the ballot-counting process is complete, the contests for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general will be set.
On Nov. 2, the three statewide races, all 100 House of Delegates seats and local races will be on the ballot for the general election.