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Early voting starting in Charlottesville and Albemarle

Voters in Charlottesville and Albemarle County may cast their ballots starting Friday.

The state now allows no-excuse voting by mail and early voting and early in-person voting, starting Friday and ending the Saturday before the election.

Albemarle voters can cast an early ballot at the 5th Street County Office Building at 1600 Fifth Street, while voters in Charlottesville can vote early at the city’s election office at the City Hall Annex at 120 7th St. NE.

The deadline to register or change registration information in either locality is 5 p.m. Oct. 12.

At the top of the ticket, Democratic former Governor Terry McAuliffe, Republican Glenn Youngkin and Liberation Party candidate Princess Blanding are running for governor

Republican Winsome Sears is running against Democrat Hala S. Ayala for lieutenant governor.

Democratic Attorney General Mark R. Herring is seeking re-election against Republican Jason S. Miyares.

All House of Delegates seats in the area are up for election and have contested races.

In the 57th District, which covers Charlottesville and part of Albemarle County, Del. Sally Hudson, D-Charlottesville, is the Democratic nominee. Hudson, an economist and University of Virginia professor, is running for her second term. Challenging her is Philip Hamilton, who moved to Charlottesville this year and is the first Republican to run in the district in more than a decade.

Del. Chris Runion, R-Bridgewater, is running for a second term representing the 25th District, which covers portions of Albemarle. Running as a Democrat against Runion is Jennifer Kitchen, who also ran in 2019.

Del. Rob Bell, R-Albemarle, will be seeking another term. Bell, an attorney, was first elected in 2001 and represents the 58th District, which covers Greene County and parts of the counties of Albemarle and Fluvanna. Running as a Democrat against Bell is Sara Ratcliffe, who moved to Barboursville five years ago.

The 59th District, which includes parts of the counties of Albemarle, Buckingham and Nelson, will see three candidates on the ballot. Del. Matt Fariss, R-Rustberg, has held the seat since 2012. Democrat Benjamin Moses and independent Louis Scicli are attempting to unseat Fariss.

In Albemarle, three Board of Supervisors seats are all on unopposed on their respective ballots. Democrats Diantha McKeel of the Jack Jouett District and Ned Gallaway of the Rio District are seeking additional terms, while Jim Andrews, a retired physicist and attorney, is running as a Democrat for the Samuel Miller District seat.

The three School Board members in the county up for re-election are uncontested on their ballots. Graham Paige, of the Samuel Miller District; Kate Acuff, of the Jack Jouett District; and Katrina Callsen, of the Rio District, are all seeking another four-year term on the seven-member board. Randy Zackrisson is running a write-in campaign for the Samuel Miller District seat.

In Charlottesville, Democratic nominees Brian Pinkston and Juandiego Wade and independent candidate Yas Washington are running for two open seats on the City Council. Mayor Nikuyah Walker withdrew from the election earlier this month but will still appear on the ballot.

Five candidates are running for three seats up for grabs on the city school board — current School Board Chairwoman Lisa Larson-Torres, longtime board member Leah Puryear, real estate agent Emily Dooley, Christa Bennett, director of partnerships for Strive for College, and Dom Morse, an educator in the Albemarle County school division.

Four Charlottesville elected officials are also seeking re-election and running unopposed; Commonwealth’s Attorney Joe Platania, Sheriff James E. Brown, Commissioner of Revenue Todd Divers and Treasurer Jason Vandever.

Early voting in Albemarle will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursdays at the 5th Street County Office Building in Room A.

Albemarle will also hold two Saturday early voting days from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 23 and Oct. 30.

Voters can hand-deliver their mail-in ballots to the 5th Street County Office Building and a drop box located in front of the main entrance will be available around the clock beginning Friday through 7 p.m. Nov. 2.

Albemarle Registrar Jake Washburne who was headed to the post office Thursday afternoon said the county was mailing out more than 3,600 ballots in the first stop, which he said was “not anywhere near as overwhelming as last year.”

“It’s a bunch compared to pre-COVID in pre- no excuse,” he said. “But I think the first batches that went out the first couple days last year were probably 7,000 or 8,000.”

All election officers will be masked, he said, and there will be sneeze guards up in front of the check-in stations. Voters will be asked, not required to wear masks.

Election officers are not under the county requirement to be vaccinated, Washburne said, even though the Electoral Board had discussed making it a requirement.

“They thought that if we require them all to wear masks, as we did last year, and we require social distancing, that would probably be the wiser policy, because we were afraid we might lose some if we insisted on vaccination,” Washburne said.

Due to state law, the county will only be offering curbside voting from vehicles if the voter is 65 or older or has a disability. It is also now illegal to possess any firearm within 40 feet of a polling place.

At the request of Peter Wurzer, the chairman of the county’s Electoral Board, Attorney General Mark Herring issued an opinion earlier this month that central absentee voter precincts, voter satellite offices and offices of general registrars that are used as the designated location for early voting are considered “polling places” and are covered under the ban.

In Charlottesville, early voting will be open at the City Hall Annex in Room 142 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. On Thursdays, early voting will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Charlottesville will also hold two Saturday early voting days from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 23 and Oct. 30.

Voters can hand-deliver their mail-in ballots to the City Hall Annex and a drop box located in front of the main entrance will be available 24/7 beginning Friday through 7 p.m. Nov. 2.

Acting city voter registrar Taylor Yowell said the polling setup will be similar to the 2020 limited capacity setup due to the city’s state of emergency.

“So we are still at reduced capacity. We will have one to two additional ballot marking stations, but that is the max number that we will be able to have in our office, depending on the need of having those. We will have election officers here routing people in and out of our office to keep everyone still distanced,” Yowell said.

Yowell said she is not too concerned that there will be excessively long lines, but early voters who don’t want to wait should plan to vote in the earlier weeks as lines tend to get longer as the voting period nears its close.

“We do not expect long lines, at least for the first two weeks. It typically picks up later into voting. But everything very much could change depending on voter enthusiasm,” she said.

The city is also offering curbside voting.

There are specific designated spots right outside of the Department of Elections office marked with Curbside Voter Parking. Yowell said voters can call the number on the sign and an election officer will help the voter check in and vote via paper ballot.

The deadline to request a mailed ballot is 5 p.m. Oct. 22. Mailed ballots must be postmarked no later than Nov. 3 and received by the registrar’s office not later than 12 p.m. Nov. 5.

Source: www.dailyprogress.com

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