Early voting is on the rise throughout Virginia, according to a report by the nonprofit Virginia Public Access Project using Virginia Department of Elections data.
The data shows a dramatic rise in the number of voters casting ballots ahead of the Nov. 6 Election Day compared to last year (Virginians may file absentee ballots in person if they have a valid excuse for not being able to vote on Election Day).
This week is a particularly important time to know about early voting. By state law, all Virginia election offices must be open for early voting during the last two Saturdays before Election Day. That's this Saturday, Oct. 27 and next Saturday, Nov. 3.
The rise in early voting suggests voters are energized to turn out in the 2018 midterms. Typically, there is a significant drop in voter interest in non-presidential election years, but many on both sides see a referendum on the Trump agenda and the recent Kavanaugh hearings as motivators.
Statewide, more than 95,000 ballots have been cast so far, compared to 58,456 in 2017, a 63.6 percent change. That puts 2018 on a course to eclipse the 123,221 ballots cast in the 2014 midterms.
Prince William County has seen a 65 percent change, a number that is particularly impressive when you consider Prince William County led the state in absentee votes cast in 2016. That year, the county's Office of Election mounted a huge effort to get voters to the polls early in hopes of avoiding the hours-long lines that plagued some county polling places in the 2012 presidential election.
Regardless of the motivation, voting in all elections, not just the big ticket ones, is one of the pillars of good citizenship. We applaud the people of Virginia for their efforts to cast their ballots, particularly considering the state’s rules for early voting are somewhat more limiting in their excuse requirement.
So, it bears repeating: All Virginia election offices must be open for early voting during the last two Saturdays before Election Day. That's this Saturday, Oct. 27 and next Saturday, Nov. 3.
In Prince William County, all three early voting locations -- the Woodbridge DMV office, the Haymarket-Gainesville Library and the Office of Elections in Old Town Manassas -- will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
We hope that this energy continues into 2020 and beyond. Regardless of where one falls on the political spectrum, voter apathy is a plague on all our nation stands for. Please, get out and vote. It is our civic duty.