RICHMOND, Va. — Nearly 74,000 Virginia voters have cast absentee ballots as of Monday, according to the Virginia Dept. of Elections. One of those ballots belonged to Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia).

Being away for business is one of the about 20 reasons you can vote using an absentee ballot in Virginia, which is one of 19 states to require a reason to request one of these ballots.

Virginia’s election this year is a close one to watch since the entire General Assembly is on the ballot. The balance of power in the House of Delegates and state Senate is being challenged, as Republicans have held a slim majority in recent years.

The last time all 140 seats of the General Assembly were on the ballot was four years ago. Then, about 78,000 absentee ballots were cast.

Elections officials are seeing a spike in absentee ballot applications from students, people going out of town for business or vacation as well as participation from Virginians with disabilities or are ill.

There’s been a push from Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration and lawmakers to make it easier to vote earlier with an absentee ballot. That’s something Sen. Kaine backs too.

“Virginia makes it harder to vote early than just about any state,” Sen. Kaine explained. “I have a designated reason because I work during the week up in D.C.. But you shouldn’t need a reason, if you want to participate we should make it easier for you to vote.”

If you want to vote absentee, Tuesday, Oct. 29 is the deadline to apply online for a ballot to be mailed to our home address. You can also vote with an absentee ballot in-person until Saturday, Nov. 2, at your local registrar’s office.

Election Day is Nov. 5. The polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. If you are in line at your polling place at 7 p.m. you will be able to vote.