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A look at early voting numbers in primary elections later this month


Voting is well underway across Virginia for primary elections later this month.

Charlottesville is taking the lead in early turnout. That's true in both the Senate race with the most early votes and two House races that have the highest turnout so far, according to an analysis from the Virginia Public Access Project.

Former Republican Delegate David Ramadan, now at George Mason University's Schar School, says the primary between Senator Creigh Deeds and Delegate Sally Hudson is probably driving the trend.

"In Charlottesville in particular, there is a very highly contested race in the Senate between a current delegate and a current senator that is probably feeding as well — because of the high contested and high-dollar race on the Senate side — it's probably feeding both House of Delegates districts that this Senate district overlaps with," explains Ramadan.

Democratic strategist Ben Tribbett says the early voting numbers might also be driven by television commercials.

"Charlottesville is its own media market, and so it's extremely cheap to buy television ads in Charlottesville," Tribbett says. "So, all these candidates have been on television for months because they can essentially run very targeted network television TV ads, and that always moves voters – when you raise awareness it's going to move more people."

Another potential factor influencing the early vote is Virginia's new system of permanent absentee votes. Voters can now ask to be on a list to receive an absentee ballot in the mail for every election.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.