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Virginia Voters Begin Heading to the Polls

September 17, 2021 by Dan McCue
Democratic gubernatorial candidate former Governor Terry McAuliffe, left, greets Republican challenger, Glenn Youngkin, at the start of a debate at the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, Va., Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Early in-person voting in Virginia’s general election began Friday morning, the start of a 45-day period in which those registered to do so can cast ballots for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, the House of Delegates and in local races.

Those wishing to vote early can do so at a local registrar’s office or satellite voting location.

Voters must bring identification, but the list of acceptable IDs includes driver’s licenses, military IDs, voter confirmation documents and other government documents with the voter’s name and address.

The last day to register to vote or update your registration is Oct. 12. 

Those who wish to vote by mail-in or absentee ballot can ask for one online, by fax or by mail and since the onset of the pandemic, voters don’t have to give a reason for preferring to vote this way. The deadline for asking for an absentee or mail-in ballot is Oct. 22.

Once they’ve filled out their ballots, voters can drop them off at an early voting location (the specific precinct doesn’t matter) or send them back by mail.

Voters have until Nov. 2 at 7 p.m. to drop off their ballots, and until Nov. 5 to get their ballots in by mail so long as they are postmarked by Nov. 2

The last day for early in-person voting is Saturday, Oct. 30, and the general election is Tuesday, Nov. 2.

The general election season in Virginia got a feisty kick off Thursday night as Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin clashed in the commonwealth’s first gubernatorial debate 

The candidates in the closely watched race met at the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, a small town in southwest Virginia, where the debate got off to a relatively heated start.

The first questions of the night dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has left more than 12,000 Virginians dead and hospitalized tens of thousands more. 

Asked his position on President Joe Biden’s sweeping new vaccine mandates issued earlier this month, Youngkin called himself a “strong advocate” for the COVID-19 vaccines but said he thought the president lacked the authority to mandate that workers receive one.

“I have been a strong, strong advocate for everyone to get the vaccine. I do believe that individuals should be allowed to make that decision on their own,” said Youngkin, a former business executive.

McAuliffe criticized Youngkin as failing to show leadership, saying later in the debate: “His day one plan would be to unleash COVID because he doesn’t believe we should mandate vaccinations.”

The candidates’ stark differences on abortion were also on display during the hour long debate. Each sought to make the case that the other was out of line with the mainstream. McAuliffe said Youngkin wants to “ban abortion,” while Youngkin called McAuliffe “the most extreme pro-abortion candidate in America today.”

McAuliffe, who often promises to be a “brick wall” against legislation that would curtail abortion access, was asked a question about third-trimester abortions and indicated he would support loosening a requirement that three doctors sign off on the procedure. He called it an issue of fairness for women in rural communities.

Youngkin, who describes himself as pro-life but says he supports exceptions for rape, incest or to save a mother’s life, said he would not have signed Texas’ new law banning most abortions but indicated he would support a “pain threshold bill.”

Virginia is one of two states electing governors this year, the other being New Jersey.

Polls have generally shown McAuliffe, who previously served as governor from 2014-2018, with a slight edge over Youngkin.

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