Early Numbers Suggest Voter Turnout Could be Stronger than 2013

Nov 7, 2017

Karina Smith holds her son Kyler Smith, 2, as she fills out her ballot at a polling place Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017, in Alexandria, Va. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Credit Associated Press

Election officials are reporting a steady stream of voters across the state, as Virginians pick a new governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general. Some close races for the House of Delegates and lots of local contests are also drawing voters out.

In Roanoke, about 13% of the city’s registered voters had cast ballots as of 10 am. And in Montgomery County, the turnout figure as of 10 o’clock was 16%.

As canvassing for voters got underway under cloudy skies, and poll workers at some 3,000 locations in Virginia opened for in-person balloting, more than 180,000 people had already cast absentee ballots.

That’s a lot more than in 2013, the last comparable election. And officials say that’s a sign overall voter turnout could be stronger this year than four years ago, when 43% of registered voters cast a ballot.

The turnout of younger voters could be higher, too. One advocacy group, NextGen, says it got 20,000 new voters signed up for this election by targeting college towns.

Some voters say they hope the results will be a sign of support for, or resistance to, President Trump.

But others, like Sara Arthur of Radford, were hoping more people would consider third-party candidates. “It’s not something people usually think about. They think there’s usually just two options and there needs to be more.”

And more candidates who will listen to the voters, says Steve Price of Christiansburg. “It’s gotten really bad to me. I don’t like the way politicians are conducting themselves.”

Politicians will find out what the voters were saying, a few hours after the polls close at 7pm.

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