RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia’s 45-day early-voting window for congressional primaries is open, but new districts and different nominating plans for the parties mean not everyone can take part.
Only five of Virginia’s 11 congressional districts will hold state-run primaries. Republicans in three districts will pick their candidate for the midterms on May 21, two in party-run conventions and one in a firehouse primary with ranked-choice voting.
Republicans aim to flip the U.S. House and take control of Congress in November’s midterms, a shift that could jeopardize the future of President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda for the next two years.
Most of the races in Virginia are not expected to be competitive, but a few are considered toss-ups and could push Republicans over the edge.
But redistricting shifted voters’ districts ahead of the primaries and conventions, potentially causing confusion for Virginians about where to vote, who represents them and more.
Early Voting in Virginia
Virginia’s early voting period for congressional primaries began on May 6 and will last 45 days. Every eligible Virginian is allowed to vote absentee without providing an excuse and they have two options.
First, they can vote absentee through the mail or in person at their local general registrar’s office or any voting satellite location in their locality. The final day to vote early in person is Saturday, June 18, at 5 p.m., and the last day to request an mail-in absentee ballot is June 10 by 5 p.m.
Absentee ballots that are mailed in must be posted by Election Day — June 21 — and received by the local registrar’s office by noon on June 24. Voters can also drop off their absentee ballots at any designated drop-off location or polling place in their locality.
According to a Virginia Department of Elections spokesperson, 1,173 early ballots have been cast in-person and 2,258 absentee ballots have been submitted through the mail statewide as of May 13.
New districts, new representatives
Virginia underwent its required redistricting process this year, shuffling people’s districts and leaving some without a race to vote on until November.
There were changes to each district during the process, but some representatives saw major changes. Rep. Abigail Spanberger’s 7th Congressional District moved from Central Virginia to Northern Virginia, including Prince William County and stretching from Caroline County to Madison County.
Three Republican districts vote May 21
The 5th and 8th Congressional Districts will hold conventions where Republicans registered as convention delegates will soon pick the GOP nominees for the midterms.
Rep. Bob Good is being challenged by Dan Moy, Charlottesville’s Republican Committee chairman, to represent the 5th District in November. Rep. Good won the seat after defeating former Rep. Denver Riggleman in a party-run, drive-thru convention in 2020.
The GOP convention for the 5th District will be held May 21 at 10 a.m. at the Kirby Field House at Hampden-Sydney College. The winner will face off with Democrat Josh Throneburg in the midterms.
The 10th District will have a firehouse primary from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on May 21 using ranked-choice voting to see who will try to unseat Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.). There are 11 candidates in the firehouse primary, multiple locations where voters can be registered and an in-person absentee voting, but only with a valid excuse, on Thursday, May 12, at The Middleburg Barn.
Ranked-choice voting was used for the statewide Republican conventions last year where Gov. Glenn Youngkin won the nomination.
The winner will have to receive a majority of the vote, with registered delegates ranking their choices. If no candidate gets a majority during the first round of vote tallying, the candidate with the lowest percentage is eliminated. The vote counting continues with delegates’ second choices included to the new tally until one candidate wins a majority.
Congressional primaries for June 21
Several Republicans have put their names forward to challenge the Democratic incumbents in the most vulnerable districts in Virginia: Rep. Elaine Luria in the 2nd District and Rep. Spanberger in the 7th.
There are seven Republicans registered in the June 21 primary seeking to challenge Spanberger later this year. The GOP candidates in the 7th are Gary Adkins, Derrick Anderson, Gina Ciarcia, state Sen. Bryce Reeves (Spotsylvania), David Ross, Stafford County Board Chair Crystal Vanuch and Prince William Board Supervisor Yesli Vega.
The Republicans running to unseat Rep. Luria includes Tommy Altman, Andy Baan, Jarome Bell and state Sen. Jen Kiggans (R-Virginia Beach).
Only a few incumbents are facing challengers from their own party in the primaries, including four-term Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) in the 8th District and two-term Rep. Ben Cline (R-Va.) in the 6th District.
Democrat Victoria Virasingh is running against Rep. Beyer and Republican Merritt Hale will square off with Rep. Cline. Two Republicans, Ted Engquist and Terry Namkung, will also face each other for the chance to unseat Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) in the 3rd District.
Midterm races that are already set
- Republican Rep. Rob Wittman (incumbent)
- Democrat Herb Jones
- Democratic Rep. Donald McEachin (incumbent)
- Republican Leon Benjamin
- Republican Rep. Morgan Griffith (incumbent)
- Democrat Taysha DeVaughan
- Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly (incumbent)
- Republican Jim Myles
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