Hey Virginia, There Are Two Elections Today

By Amie Knowles

January 5, 2021

Two General Assembly seats are up for grabs in special elections.

NORFOLK – Election Day has arrived in Virginia.

Yes, we did just go through this in November. However, for two Virginia House Districts, that time has come again.

In November, District 90 Del. Joe Lindsey was re-elected for another term. However, days later he resigned, accepting an appointment as a general district court judge in Norfolk.

That left the district with an empty seat.

In December, another spot was left vacant when Jennifer Carroll Foy resigned from House District 2. Foy said she was stepping down to focus on her campaign for governor.

On Dec. 1, Gov. Ralph Northam announced a special election for both seats, set for one month later. By mid-December in District 90, the Norfolk City Democratic Committee selected Angelia Williams Graves for their contender. The Norfolk GOP Caucus chose Sylvia Bryant to vie for the seat. Meanwhile, Candi King won a firehouse primary to claim the Democratic nomination in District 2. She’ll face Heather Mitchell, the only Republican to file.

RELATED: King Wins Nomination With Nearly Half the Vote

Where Do I Go?

This works just like a regular election. All polling places are open throughout both districts from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. If you’re not sure where your polling place is, just follow this link and it’ll get you to the right location.

So far, very few people have actually taken part. In Norfolk, where 19 precincts make up the majority of the voters, a sliver of the residents who voted absentee in the presidential election did the same for the special election.

Stephanie Iles, Norfolk’s general registrar, expressed that the numbers didn’t compare to the election last month.

“The turnout was enormous in the presidential election for absentee. We did over 18,000 mail-outs the first weekend,” Iles said. “And then some people, of course, didn’t want to wait for ballots and came in. So a lot of people voted in-person because everybody was concerned about the post office and what was going on in the news media with regards to the post office.”

Between mail-in ballots and in-person early voting, 58,370 Norfolk residents voted prior to Nov. 3. So far, less than 400 people have filled out a ballot.

“Maybe people are not aware of it,” Iles said. “And of course the presidential was all of our precincts, all of our voters. This is only a portion of our city. This is 19 precincts, a little over 50,400 [people].”

A startling number in Virginia

In Virginia Beach, a small portion of the city’s residents reside in the 90th district, about 80 people, said Christine Lewis, Virginia Beach’s deputy registrar. So far, it’s been hard to get them to cast a ballot.

The deputy registrar cited little interest because of the holidays as the most likely reason very few people showed up so far.

“And they probably don’t know that there’s an election going on and that they’re in the 90th,” Lewis said.

Ironically, more people outside of the 90th district tried to perform their patriotic duty than those actually in the voting locale.

“We’ve had people apply, but they’re not even close to that district,” Lewis said.

Lewis estimated that out of the 80 registered voters, between 10 and 15 would likely hit the polls on Jan. 5.

Checking registration

Both Lewis and Iles suggested checking online before trying to cast a ballot. In some circumstances, next door neighbors reside in separate districts.

“Two of our precincts, however, are split districts. So there may be people registered in that precinct, but they’re not in the 90th district,” Iles said. “We always encourage people to check their registration online to make sure they’re registered and check where their district is. They may show up and they’re in the other district.”

“People will see signs and think, you know, they need to go out and vote,” Iles said. “But they should check to make sure it’s their district that’s actually having an election.”

Tabulating the votes in Virginia

With so few voters expected in Virginia Beach, Lewis noted it would not take long to count the ballots.

“It will take us a few minutes,” Lewis said

In Norfolk, the process will likely take a bit longer, but not drastically.

“We should have the unofficial results, of course, election evening. But we still cannot certify until after noon on Friday after the election because of the law change. Ballots that are postmarked by Election Day and received up until noon on the Friday after the election; they have to be counted. We won’t have the final numbers until after noon on Friday.”

The extended time also allows people who did not bring proper voting identification an opportunity to provide that document by noon on Friday. Then and only then, their provisional ballot also becomes a valid vote.

Amie Knowles reports for Dogwood. You can reach her at [email protected]

  • Amie Knowles

    Amie is Dogwood's community editor. She has been in journalism for several years, winning multiple awards from the Virginia Press Association for news and features content. A lifelong Virginia resident, her work has appeared in the Martinsville Bulletin, Danville Register & Bee and NWNC Magazine.

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