The Virginia primary election for Democrats seeking statewide office is still two weeks away, but tens of thousands have already voted.
According to the Virginia Department of Elections, about 54,000 voters have participated in the primary so far, including 20,000 who voted absentee in person and 34,000 who voted through the mail.
While the calendar date for the primary is June 8, early voting has been ongoing for more than a month.
“Looking back historically, we have already surpassed the total number of absentee voters for all of 2017,” said Chris Piper, commissioner of the elections department. “About 39,000 participated in early voting for the primary in 2017.”
It makes this year’s number even more impressive, considering the fact that both Republicans and Democrats held primaries for statewide offices in 2017.
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This time around, only Democrats are holding primaries for those offices, which include governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.
Republicans selected their candidates through a party convention earlier this month, choosing Glenn Youngkin for governor, Winsome Sears for lieutenant governor and Jason Miyares for attorney general.
“Obviously, we have seen a huge uptick in early voters in Virginia since four years ago,” Piper said.
Some voters will see House of Delegates seats on their primary ballot, as a number of House incumbents are facing challengers from within their own parties.
There is a deadline approaching this week — the cutoff date for when voters can request that an absentee ballot be mailed to them. Voters have until Friday, May 28, to do that.
In-person early voting will still be available through June 5.
Due to a change in state law last year, people who vote early no longer need to provide an excuse as to why they cannot show up on Election Day itself.
Piper said that change clearly has fueled the increase in the number of people casting ballots ahead of time.
“People are finding that it’s a very convenient option for them,” Piper said.