Voting nears for statewide Democrats

With the Democratic primary for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general five days away, the number of ballots cast to date has been quite low compared to the presidential election last fall.

This is the second election since the Virginia General Assembly made it possible for voters to go to the polls as early as 45 days before the actual primary date. As of Tuesday afternoon, 283 people had voted in Louisa County, 92 of them in person and 191 by mail. Another 147 ballots were requested by mail but had not been returned yet.

A third of the county’s 27,800 registered voters had made their choices with a week to go before the November election. Many people didn’t want to vote in person as the coronavirus pandemic neared its height. Next week’s primary comes as the number of new COVID cases has fallen dramatically.

Another factor is that primaries in non-presidential election years tend to have a low turnout. Only 1,883 ballots were cast in Louisa for the two Democratic candidates in the 2017 primary, when Ralph Northam ran for governor. The total turnout during that year’s dual party primary was 22 percent of registered voters.

This time around, there are several candidates vying for a shot at the Democratic nomination, including Terry McAuliffe as he seeks a return to the governor’s mansion; Jennifer Carroll Foy; Jennifer McClellan; current lieutenant governor Justin Fairfax and Delegate Lee Carter.

In the lieutenant governor’s race, Sam Rasoul, Mark Levine, Sean Perryman, Hala Ayala, Andria McClellan and Xavier Warren are in the running. Elizabeth Guzman’s name is on the ballot, but she has dropped out of the race.

In the attorney general’s race, Mark Herring is seeking another term against challenger Jay Jones.

One significant change in this primary is that the #2 precinct for the Louisa voting district has been moved from Trevilians Volunteer Fire Department, which is undergoing electrical repair work, to Trevilians Elementary School. The school will also serve as the #2 precinct for the Patrick Henry voting district as it has in the past.

The Louisa County Electoral Board approved the relocation on an emergency basis at its May 3 meeting, on the assumption the electrical work wouldn’t be completed in time for the primary. The relocation also had to be approved by the state board of elections.

Early voting continues today and tomorrow at the Louisa County Office Building from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The final day of early voting is this Saturday, June 5, when the registrar’s office will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. That’s also the last day to request an absentee ballot in person.

The primary will take place on Tuesday, June 8. Polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.

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