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Analysis: Nearly one in five registered voters in Virginia have already voted

2020 election
(© Leigh Prather –

There have already been more than 1.1 million votes cast either in person or by mail in Virginia, according to our analysis of early-voting numbers from the Virginia Public Access Project.

The total – 1,140705 – represents 19.3 percent of the state’s registered voter base, which was at 5,896,141 as of Oct. 1, according to the Virginia Department of Elections.

For reference, there were 538,410 absentee votes cast in Virginia in the 2016 election, according to VPAP, less than half the early votes already cast in the 2020 cycle.

One other fun with numbers bit: the total number of early votes cast represents 28.6 percent of the total number of votes cast in the 2016 election.

According to the Department of Elections, there were 3,984,631 votes cast in Virginia in the 2016 election.

Local, state trends

When we first reported on this topic last week, we noticed that early voting was higher in areas that have traditionally leaned Democratic.

That trend seems to be continuing.

Albemarle County, which was solid D in 2016, giving Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton a 58.8 percent-to-34.0 percent win over Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, has already had 24,215 votes cast in person or by mail as of the close of business on Wednesday, 29.9 percent of the 80,934 registered voter base.

Next up is Staunton, which had a slight pull toward Clinton in 2016, and to this point in the 2020 cycle has had 5,081 early votes already cast, 29.2 percent of the city’s registered voter base of 17,393.

Charlottesville, which gave Clinton 79.7 percent of its votes in 2016, has an early-voting turnout at 26.4 percent – 9,057 votes already cast from among its 34,269 registered voters.

Early voting in Democrat vote-rich Northern Virginia is trending similarly heavily, with one notable exception: in Fairfax County, where we have 125,040 early votes recorded, which sounds like a lot, but is actually only 16.6 percent of the 753,952 registered voter base.

Fairfax County is crucial to Democrats in Virginia. A couple of frames of reference on that:

  • Clinton defeated Trump by a significant 64.4 percent-to-28.6 percent margin in 2016.
  • Her vote total in Fairfax County, 355,133, represented 17.9 percent of all votes cast for Clinton in Virginia in 2016.

Early votes cast in neighboring NoVa localities are looking strong – Alexandria at 32.0 percent of its registered voters, Arlington at 29.0 percent, Prince William at 24.9 percent.

Two other D vote-rich areas are trending below the state average: Norfolk, at just 11.2 percent, and Richmond, at 15.2 percent.

A quick scan of the Republican voter areas shows a trend of relatively diminished enthusiasm. Augusta and Rockingham, here in our backyard, were among the top 10 localities in terms of Trump vote in 2016 – Augusta giving Trump 72.0 percent of its votes, Rockingham going 69.3 percent for Trump.

Early voting turnout to this point in Rockingham is 13.4 percent of the county’s registered voters – 7,220 of the 53,923 registered.

In Augusta, it’s 17.6 percent – 9,088 early votes cast from among the 51,736 registered.

Bedford County, in Central Virginia, went 72.1 percent for Trump in 2016. To date, there have been 9,832 early votes cast there, 17.1 percent of the 57,532 registered in Bedford.

One R county bucking the trend: Hanover, which went 63.2 percent for Trump in 2016, has reported 20,064 early votes thus far, 24.9 percent of the 80,424 registered there.

Story by Chris Graham

augusta free press
augusta free press