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Early voting in Virginia lags in 2021 compared to 2020

Terry McAuliffe and Glenn Youngkin.png
Posted at 3:43 PM, Sep 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-27 16:33:55-04

NORFOLK, Va. - By this time in 2020, more than 300,000 people had already voted early in Virginia, but in 2021, the number is about 84,000.

People in Virginia don't need an excuse to vote early either by mail or in person at their registrar's office. About 200,000 people have requested a mail-in ballot but haven't sent it back, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.

Last year, there were long lines to vote early in person, but this year, things have been much quieter.

"I wanted to get it out of the way. I wanted to make sure it was done," said Lynette Atkins, who voted early in Norfolk on Monday.

Atkins was the only voter News 3 saw for about a half an hour.

"It's very quiet, disturbingly enough. I had hoped to see more activity, but it's early yet," she said.

Republican candidate for governor Glenn Youngkin says there's been strong turnout in Republican areas of the state.

"I think early voting is just setting the pace for what's going to happen with the election, which is voters coming out and picking a different kind of leader," he said.

Democrat Terry McAuliffe says he's focused on getting through the finish line.

"I don't read anything into early numbers. One vote counts - November 2 at 7 p.m. when the polls have closed, but before that, people are going to do what they want to do and vote when they want to vote," he said.

Polls have shown the race tightening as it enters its final stretch. McAuliffe and Youngkin are debating again on Tuesday.

"I think what's happened over the past few weeks - it's no longer Republicans against Democrats. This is Virginians saying, 'We're ready for a different kind of leader,'" said Youngkin.

"I don't pay too much attention to the polls. I'm excited. We've knocked on 500,000 doors already," said McAuliffe. "People understand we have made great progress."

Youngkin also responded to a report from Axios from the over the weekend. The news outlet reported Youngkin did not answer directly when asked whether he would have certified the 2020 presidential election results if he were a member of Congress.

When asked by News 3 on Monday, Youngkin said, "Yes, absolutely. It's a silly thing. I've said all along Joe Biden was legitimately elected our president."

Virginia Democratic Party Chair Susan Swecker held a press call on Monday morning, calling Youngkin's original answer "disqualifying."

Click here for our full guide on the 2021 Virginia elections.