Local registrars see 'unprecedented' early voting turnout in state election
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- It's crunch time in the race for governor, and things are heating up.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe made several stops in Charlottesville on Wednesday, hoping to energize voters to get to the polls. This comes as local registrar's offices say a huge number of people are voting early.
"I've been encouraged. We've already had about 400,000 people early vote in the Commonwealth. We've knocked on millions of doors," McAuliffe said outside of the Charlottesville City Hall Annex.
He came with an urgent message to voters: vote early.
Jake Washburne, Albemarle County's general registrar, said early voting in general is way up this year compared to the previous gubernatorial election.
"This is unprecedented in terms of early voting," Washburne said. "We've got authorized party observers almost every day from both parties. That's unusual for almost every day of early voting."
In 2017, about 2,000 people voted early, both in person and by mail in Albemarle County.
"This year with two weeks left to go, we've had over 5,500 people vote in-person early right here, and we've also mailed out about 7,000 mail-in ballots," Washburne said.
He adds that it's mainly because Virginia only began no-excuse early and mail-in voting last year. Turnout in early voting for the general election was still much higher compared to this year's local election, which is typical.
"Here in Virginia we've increased, made it easier for people to vote. And we've got to show people this year that we deserve it, and that's why we've got to have a record voter turnout," McAuliffe said.
In Charlottesville, acting general registrar Taylor Yowell said of the 2,500 mail-in ballots that have been sent out, the elections office has received only 750 back.
"We've had a good number of voters that are bringing in their mail-in ballot with them and deciding to vote in person, or due to a lot of the postal issues have not received them and are coming to vote in person in lieu of that," Yowell said.
The last day to request a mail-in ballot is this Friday. Early voting ends Oct. 30, and the general election is on Nov. 2.