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Low turnout so far in Charlottesville and Albemarle County for Democratic primary

Voter turnout in Charlottesville and Albemarle County was below previous years’ rates as of 1 p.m. Tuesday, according to election data.

Per voter data, in Charlottesville — which has Democratic primaries for commonwealth’s attorney and the City Council, in addition to three statewide Democratic primaries — 6.3% of registered voters had turned out as of 1 p.m. Tuesday. This is down from 9.2% and 11.6% at the same time of the day in 2019 and 2017, respectively.

Turnout was even lower in Albemarle County, with 3.5% of registered voters having cast a ballot by 1 p.m.

Jake Washburn, registrar for the county, said that though rates were low, it was not unexpected for a single-party primary with no local primaries.

“The last couple years it has been a little difficult to gauge turnout because usually a single party primary, if you look over the past 10, 12, 14 years, we’ll hover around a total of 7-10% for the whole day,” he said. “But then, last year, for the Democratic congressional primary, that Dr. Cameron Webb won, there was a 20% turnout, which was a lot for a single party primary.”

The percentages of votes cast Tuesday did not incorporate in-person early voting or mail-in ballots, which have increased since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of Tuesday, 1,141 voters cast early in-person ballots in Charlottesville and an additional 571 had mailed in ballots. Albemarle County saw around 1,350 early in-person votes and around 1,600 votes by mail, Washburn said.

These numbers have the chance to grow as any mail-in ballot received by noon Friday and postmarked by Tuesday’s date will be counted.

“It used to be that the shut-off was today and if we had them by then, they counted; if we didn’t, then tough beans,” Washburn said. “So we may end up getting a combination of 3,000 early in-person and mail-in votes, which is a whole lot for a single-party primary.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, neither locality had reported any significant issue with polling locations.

Polls will remain open until 7 p.m. and any registered voter may cast a ballot in the primary.


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