With the June 8 Virginia primaries for Democratic governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and House of Delegates fast approaching, voters in Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park have cast about 4,400 early ballots, either in person or by mail, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.
That is already more than double the number of early votes cast in the last gubernatorial primary in 2017, when an excuse was required to vote with an absentee ballot, and nearly three times the number of votes cast in Prince William in the May 8 Republican unassembled convention.
The Virginia General Assembly changed the laws in 2020 to allow 45-day “no-excuse” early voting, meaning many more people are eligible to vote.
“This year, with a 45-day no excuse early voting, in terms of raw numbers, more people have voted this year compared to the cycle four years ago. But, you know, more people are also eligible to vote early,” said Keith Scarborough, secretary of Prince William County’s three-member electoral board.
As of Tuesday, 3,915 voters in Prince William County, 427 voters from Manassas and 68 voters from Manassas Park had cast early ballots either in-person or by mail, with several thousand outstanding mail-in ballots that have not yet been returned.
Scarborough said in an interview on Tuesday it can be challenge for candidates and political parties to get people to the polls in primaries following a presidential year, such as this one. Scarborough compared some voters to cicadas.
“Well, there are cicada voters as well. There are people who they pay a lot of attention in a presidential year, and then they sort of go underground for the next three or four years. And it's always a challenge for the parties and the candidates to engage them and convince them that elections happen every year, they matter every year,” Scarborough said.
Scarborough said he expects a slightly higher rate of ballots to be cast during the final week of early voting as campaigns flood the airwaves with commercials and mailboxes with campaign literature in the final stretch of the primary.
Prince William County’s new, acting-Registrar Phil Campbell said Tuesday that the early voting had picked up over Memorial Day weekend, and he also expects higher turnout this week.
“This past weekend that the numbers were up a little bit, so I would anticipate that then there's going to be more people voting as it gets to the last minute. It's not an overabundance by any means, but nonetheless, it's a convenience, and it’s there for the public,” Campbell said.
In addition to statewide Democratic primaries for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general, voters in Greater Prince William will be selecting candidates in three Democratic primaries for House of Delegates, in the 2nd, 31st and 50th districts, and one Republican primary for the House of Delegates, in the 51st district.
Early voting continues each day this week from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Saturday, June 5, at three locations around the county: the A.J. Ferlazzo Building, the Gainesville-Haymarket Public Library and at the Prince William County Office of Elections in Manassas.
The last day to cast an early vote is Saturday, June 5. Primary Election Day is Tuesday, June 8.
Reach Daniel Berti at firstname.lastname@example.org