Officials see high turnout of early voters in Southwest Virginia

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BRISTOL, Va. (WJHL) – Early voting for the November elections began Friday in Virginia, with races for three top spots in state government on the ballot.

That includes a very heated and contested race for governor between Democrat and former Governor Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin.

Lieutenant Governor is also up for grabs between Democrat Hala Ayala and Republican Winsome Sears.

Incumbent Attorney General Mark Herring, a Democrat, is facing off with Republican challenger Jason Miyares.

After a few days at the polls, officials are feeling optimistic about voter turnout.

“We’re not on pace with what the presidential year was for the first couple of days, but, yes, we’re well ahead of what we would normally be at this time,” said Penny Limburg, the Bristol, Virginia Director of Elections.

Limburg said as of late Wednesday morning, 83 individuals have already cast their vote in person, while just over 400 mail-in ballots have been sent out. She recalls local in-person voting numbers catching up to mail-in voting totals by Election Day in 2020 but believes mail-in requests could continue to grow in the Commonwealth.

“Virginia offers the option now to be a permanent absentee voter,” Limburg said. “So you can fill that form out one time, and you’ll automatically be set up to receive a ballot for every election you qualify for. And we have seen an uptick in that type of request.”

Limburg believes that increase could be, in part, due to the lingering COVID-19 pandemic but feels convenience is playing a large role as well.

“Especially some of our elderly voters that say ‘I just can’t stand in line’ or ‘it’s difficult for me to get transportation,'” Limburg said.

Virginians still have time to register to vote. The deadline is Tuesday, October 12, with the last day of early voting on Saturday, October 30.

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