Oct 23, 2023 - News

Early voting off to a sleepy start in Richmond

Illustration of a ballot box covered in dust and cobwebs.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The casino referendum is drawing lots of debate, but so far, not very many votes.

What's happening: Four weeks into early voting, 5,242 ballots have been cast, per the city registrar's office.

Between the lines: Unlike the 2021 referendum, which coincided with the gubernatorial election, there are no contested races in most city precincts this year.

Yes, but: Political scientist Bob Holsworth said the numbers are still surprising given casino supporters are spending more than $8 million in an effort to turn out voters via an extensive canvassing operation that includes free food and rides.

What we're watching: So far turnout has been highest in the city's 8th council district, which would be home to the project and where voters strongly supported the measure last time around.

  • On the other hand, low participation in early voting could signal a problem for casino supporters, who carried the early vote in 2021 but lost among Election Day voters.
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