RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Voters across Central Virginia turned out to the polls on Saturday to cast their early ballots in Virginia’s 4th Congressional District special election, with many people appreciating how weekend voting hours made the process more accessible.
Saturday, Feb. 11 marked the first Saturday of early voting for a special election that will fill the seat of the late Representative Donald McEachin in Virginia’s 4th Congressional District.
Early voting for the special election started in early January, but polls were only open on weekdays during standard working hours. Saturday was the first day voters could come out on a weekend, and many took advantage of the opportunity.
Voters in Henrico County, Chesterfield County and Richmond all turned out to the polls on Saturday to cast their early ballots, including Chesterfield resident Stacy Green, who was glad to have an opportunity for weekend voting.
“During the weekday I work. It gets hectic,” Green said. “We have our homes, we have our families, our children.”
Henrico voter Schontel Abdul Razaaq was also glad she had the chance to have her voice heard at a time that worked for her.
“That way I don’t have to leave work and come or come in the evening when it starts to get dark and I feel safer,” Razaaq said. “I feel like it’s convenient — more convenient — to come on the weekend when you have more time.”
Overall, voters like Al Macklin remarked on having a smooth, easy voting experience.
“Early voting is the best thing since sliced bread!” Macklin said.
As of 5 p.m. on Saturday, 266 Chesterfield voters showed up to vote in person. A representative from Chesterfield County’s Registrar Office told 8News it was a productive day, and turnout remained fairly steady throughout the day. But some voters actually hoped to see longer lines.
“I’d like to see more voters come out,” Razaaq said.
The special election has already drawn national attention. During the midterms, McEachin beat Republican candidate Leon Benjamin to represent Virginia’s 4th Congressional District, which extends from Richmond down to the North Carolina state line. But shortly after his reelection, the representative lost his battle against colorectal cancer in late November. In December, Governor Glenn Youngkin called for a special election to fill McEachin’s seat.
Now, Benjamin is giving the race another go, this time competing against Democratic candidate State Sen. Jennifer McClellan.
In a closely watched race, Virginians are eager to have their say in the process and do their part.
“Instead of standing around complaining you can voice your opinion,” Green said.
“Every vote counts and if I can come out here with my cane then certainly everyone else can come out and make a difference,” Razaaq added.
There will be two more weekend voting days for the special election on Sunday, Feb. 12 and Saturday, Feb. 18. Tuesday, Feb. 14 is the last day to register to vote or update an existing registration.
For a full list of deadlines and polling locations, click here.