Virginia held special elections in House District 2, District 90 on Tuesday.
NORFOLK – Candi King and Angelia Graves are the newest members of the Virginia House of Delegates. Both Democrats won their elections Tuesday night, just in different ways.
Graves cruised to victory, taking 63.49% of the vote against Republican Sylvia Bryant, who finished with 36.4%. King’s race was much closer. She won with 51.5%, compared to 48.4% for Republican Heather Mitchell. To put that in perspective, King collected 4,386 votes to Mitchell’s 4,123. That’s only a difference of 263 ballots.
“I want to thank the voters of HD2 and I’m honored that they have chosen me to represent them in Richmond,” King said in a statement. “[I] am ready to hit the ground running for them on Day One. I will always be a voice for working families.”
Graves echoed those comments in a statement of her own, thanking voters for putting her in the House.
“We did it!” she wrote in a Twitter post. “Thank you to the voters of the 90th District for believing in me. I am excited to be your next delegate!”
King takes over from Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, who resigned to focus on her campaign for governor. Graves meanwhile takes the place of Del. Joe Lindsey, who stepped down to accept a judgeship in Virginia’s 4th Judicial District.
Polls in both districts opened at 6 a.m. on Tuesday and closed at 7 p.m. However, the number of voters remained small in portions of both districts.
Prince William County Votes
Secretary Keith Scarborough of Prince William County’s Board of Elections estimated 25,000 registered voters in the county’s 11 District 2 precincts. That’s a far cry from the 93 precincts open for a statewide election in the county.
Only a sliver of the registered voters made their way to the polls as of 3 p.m.
“The turnout is pretty small,” Scarborough said. “Right now, we’re probably at between 3% and 4%.”
The trend started weeks ago when Prince William County opened up options for no-excuse absentee voting through mail or early in-person voting.
“We had relatively small numbers of people that voted during the early in-person voting,” Scarborough said. “We had 247 people that voted during the early voting and then about 30 that returned absentee mail-in ballots.”
Scarborough predicted a low voter turnout for the remainder of the voting period.
“Most of the precincts I’ve visited today are 60, 70, 80 – pretty small numbers,” Scarborough said.
By the end of the day, the district finished with 7%. However, Prince William County voters aren’t the only folks with a say in District 2.
“The delegate district goes all the way across Prince William County along the east side, down into Stafford,” Scarborough said. “More of the district is in Prince William than Stafford.”
In the weeks leading up to the 2020 Presidential Election, conversations sparked about voter fraud. The weeks following also questioned the legitimacy and trustworthiness of the American election system.
In Prince William County, election officials did their part to keep the special election free and clear of voter fraud activity.
“We’ve done the regular training and we have experienced election officers, chiefs at all the precincts. All the regular rules that applied in November in terms of voter ID, those kind of things are just as applicable here,” Scarborough said. “We feel very confident. We had a very clear and open and transparent election in November. We’re using the same equipment, the same officers, following the same procedures. We feel very good about that, that there’s not any voter fraud here today.”
As of 3 p.m., Scarborough said he hadn’t heard of issues or problems at any of the precincts.
Virginia Beach Turnout
In Virginia Beach, General Registrar Donna Patterson and her team opened the polls at 6 a.m. Even though they’ve welcomed voters to come cast their ballot early or send in an absentee ballot by mail for the past several weeks, voters did not take advantage of the offering.
“We did not have any requests for absentee by mail or any early voters in person,” Patterson said.
That didn’t stop voters from visiting their polling location on Tuesday as the special election took place.
“We’ve had, as of 1 o’clock today, we’ve have six voters at our polling place,” Patterson said. “We have 81 voters that are qualified to vote in this election. It’s just a very small portion of our Baker precinct 61.”
As of 5:30 p.m., nine voters cast their ballot.
Small But Mighty
Although only a small number of individuals made up the eligible voters in Virginia Beach, Patterson championed their role in the overall election for District 90.
“Everyone is important. We’re open and we’ve been open for them. Every voter is important to us and everyone that is eligible should have an opportunity to cast their ballot. As we know, there are a lot of close elections, so we want every voter to have that opportunity to cast their ballot,” Patterson said. “We’ve been open – and we’re required by law to be open – but we also want every voter that’s eligible to have that opportunity to cast their ballot. We’ve had several recounts in Virginia Beach because of the fact that the election was very close.”
Scarborough mentioned similar happenings in Prince William County.
“Often, you hear people say, ‘Well, my one vote doesn’t make a difference.’ But in a special election like this where the turnout is relatively low, actually, individual votes can make more of a difference than in a large turnout election,” Scarborough said. “If there are people that don’t think that ‘my vote counts for anything,’ special elections like this can be won by just a handful of votes. Several years ago, there was a special election up in Alexandria in January for the House of Delegates. The woman who won, won by only 16 votes. These are the kind of elections where just a handful of votes can make a difference.”
Results From the Elections
Both District 2 and District 90 must wait until Friday after noon to certify the votes they received. That’s because, just like the 2020 Presidential Election, those voting absentee by mail have an extended period of time for their ballots, postmarked by Tuesday, to reach the registrar’s office. Those who submitted a provisional ballot also have until noon on Friday to present a valid form of identification if they forgot it on Tuesday.
There are, however, not enough absentee ballots to change either race.
“When you combine ours with the numbers in Stafford, the number of voters that will send in ballots by Friday at noon or any ID ballots is relatively small,” Scarborough said. “We don’t have a large number of outstanding ballots out there that [would] have any impact on the final result.”
Amie Knowles reports for The Dogwood. You can reach her at [email protected].
Brian Carlton is Dogwood’s managing editor. You can find him at [email protected].