WASHINGTON — Virginia voters have cast a record number of absentee ballots in a nonpresidential election, in large part due to the close race for governor, between Republican Ed Gillespie and Democrat Ralph Northam.
As of Sunday, 180,043 absentee ballots have been received, according to the Virginia Department of Elections. That’s far above the previous midterm record of 123,221, during President Barack Obama’s second term.
Almost one-half of the absentee ballots were cast in Northern Virginia, with the highest totals in Fairfax, Prince William and Arlington counties.
As of Monday morning, local boards of elections reported at total of 82,079 absentee ballots received, including both in person and by mail:
- City of Alexandria 5,870
- Arlington 11,586
- Fairfax 41,807
- Loudoun 8,086
- Prince William 12,600
- Stafford 2,130
The highest absentee total statewide in Virginia history was in Obama’s first election in 2008, with 506,672 voting absentee, followed by 496,452 during current President Donald Trump’s 2016 election.
Another 45,947 absentee ballots may still be counted, since a total of 225,990 voters applied for absentee ballots. Absentee ballots received by the Department of Elections by 7 p.m. on Election Day will be counted.
The deadline to request an absentee ballot by appearing in person at a local registrar’s office was 5 p.m. Saturday.
In addition to the races for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general, all 100 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates are on the ballot — among them 16 contested races in Northern Virginia.
As with most midterm elections, races are seen as an indicator of support or rejection of the president occupying the White House.
When Democrat Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe was elected in 2013, during Obama’s second term, 121,359 absentee ballots were cast, the third-highest in midterm elections.
Obama has campaigned for Northam, who is McAuliffe’s lieutenant governor, while President Trump has tweeted support for Gillespie.