Sep 25, 2023 - Politics

How to vote in Virginia's 2023 elections

Illustration of a pattern of checkmarks, some blue, some red.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Election season is upon us.

What's happening: Every seat in the General Assembly is up for reelection and you can cast your ballot any time through Election Day on Nov. 7.

Why it matters: It's do or die for Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who needs to win a majority in both chambers to have any chance at enacting the conservative reforms he promised voters when he was elected.

Of note: Both the House, controlled by Republicans, and the Senate, held by Democrats, are considered toss-ups.

The big picture: Democrats have cast the race as a referendum on Youngkin's push for a 15-week abortion ban, which has drawn widespread support among GOP candidates.

The other side: Republicans are focusing on inflation and crime.

  • In ads, they've been emphasizing their support for tax cuts while criticizing Democrats for past criminal justice reforms and opposing stricter penalties for dealing fentanyl.

Between the lines: Both parties are finding reasons to feel optimistic.

Meanwhile, Republicans have been emphasizing President Biden's dismal approval ratings in Virginia, especially compared to Youngkin, whose support has been hovering around 50%.

How to vote early

You can make sure you're registered and request a no-excuse absentee ballot on the Virginia Department of Elections' website.

  • The deadline to register is Oct. 16

If you prefer to vote in person, early voting is also underway, though hours and locations vary by locality.

Chesterfield: Cast ballots at the General Registrar's office Monday through Friday, 8:30am to 5pm.

  • Beginning Oct. 23, five satellite offices will open in libraries around the county from 10am to 7pm, Monday through Friday.
  • And all six early voting locations will be open for two Saturdays before the election (Oct. 28 and Nov. 4).

Hanover: Cast ballots at the General Registrar's office at the county complex.

  • It's open Monday through Friday, 8:30am-5pm.
  • And on the two Saturdays before the election, Oct. 28 and Nov. 4, from 9am-5pm.

Henrico: The county is operating two early voting centers, one at its Eastern Government Center and one at its Western Government Center, Monday through Friday 8am-4:30pm.

  • Beginning Oct. 23, Varina Library will open as a voting location, operating on the same schedule.
  • And on the two Saturdays before the election, Oct. 28 and Nov. 4, all three locations will be open 9am-5pm.

Richmond: The city is operating three early voting locations, one at the General Registrar's office, one at City Hall and one at Hickory Hill Community Center in Southside.

  • All three locations are open Monday through Friday, 9am to 4pm.
  • They'll also open the two Saturdays before the election, Oct. 28 and Nov. 4, 9am to 5pm.

Of note: The last day to cast an in-person early ballot is Nov. 4.

  • Election Day precincts open around the state on Nov. 7 and are open 6am-7pm.

Zoom in: All eyes on Henrico

In the Richmond area, Democrats and Republicans are targeting three closely contested swing districts in western Henrico.

What's happening: On the Senate side, longtime GOP Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant, an OBGYN, is facing a challenge from Del. Schuyler VanValkenburg, a history teacher.

In the House, both parties were pouring cash into a Short Pump-anchored race between two first-time candidates — Democrat Susanna Gibson, a nurse practitioner, and Republican David Owen, a general contractor.

Go deeper: Find out who's on your ballot

Richmond's second casino referendum

There are practically no contested legislative races in Richmond this year.

Yes, but: That gives residents plenty of time to focus on round two of the casino referendum.

  • Here's a snapshot of the main arguments for and against the new development.

Supporters have pitched the casino as an economic development opportunity for an often overlooked industrial area in South Richmond.

  • They say it will create 1,300 new jobs which will pay an average salary of $55,000.
  • They've also emphasized the resort amenities the project will bring to the neighborhood, including an entertainment venue, high-end dining and a new park.
  • And they project it would bring in as much as $30 million in new local tax revenue to the city, much of which Mayor Levar Stoney has committed to fund child care and pre-K education initiatives.

Opponents deride the project as a get-rich-quick scheme, arguing any short-term benefits will be outweighed by long-term harm to the region.

  • They warn the casino will extract wealth from the surrounding communities, fuel gambling addiction and exacerbate poverty in the region.
  • They also generally take exception to the referendum being put on the ballot a second time, arguing it's anti-democratic to allow the project's supporters to keep coming back to voters until they get a yes.

Go deeper: Casino campaign draws record donations

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