Voting absentee? Opportunities and deadline approach

All Virginia election offices will be open for in-person absentee voting on Saturday Oct. 28 and Saturday Nov. 4, the state Department of Elections said. And, as a reminder, Tuesday is the last day to request an absentee ballot by mail.

In-person absentee voting also is available during local registrars’ normal business hours.

Registered voters can vote absentee for one of 20 reasons, such as military service, illness, being away from home, pregnancy, a long commute that would keep you from getting to the polls, etc. You can see if you are eligible at the Department of Elections Citizen Portal at vote.virginia.gov.

Riled? Anxious?

Are Democrats riled? Republicans anxious?

One hint could be the out-of-state money flooding into statewide races. Since we’re one of only two states to vote for governor the year after a presidential election, outsiders tend to look at us as a bellwether of political sentiment and figure shoveling money here can move the needle.

And we’re talking big bucks — $7.6 million of out-of-state donations to Republican Ed Gillespie, $7.8 million to Democrat Ralph Northam, according to a tally by the Virginia Public Access Project.

Gillespie’s out-of-state funds exceed his in-state donations significantly. He’s raised $4.9 million in Virginia.

Northam raised $11.1 million in state. If Democrats are riled, and spend money to show it, plenty of them live in Virginia.

Republican anxiety, if there, seems more of an out-of-state thing.

There’s big out-of-state money in the race for attorney general, too. Incumbent Mark Herring received $2.7 million in out-of-state donations compared to $1.3 million for Republican challenger John Adams. Herring outpaced Adams when it comes to in-state fundraising as well: $1.7 million to $1.4 million.

HU poll sees Gillespie lead

Republican Ed Gillespie has an 8 percentage point lead over Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, Hampton University’s Center for Public Policy says.

What HU found is that 41 percent of voters who said they were likely to vote favored Gillespie, and that 33 percent favored Northam.

It found 27 percent of those likely voters either hadn’t made up their minds or refused to answer.

It found roughly half of likely voters had favorable views of the candidates — 50 percent for Gillespie, 46 percent for Northam, and, interestingly, a far smaller percentage who didn’t know or refused to answer this question.

The poll found 34 percent of likely voters said the next governor’s top priority should be improving the economy, while 23 percent said it should be health care and 18 percent said it should be education. Asked this question, only 3 percent said they didn’t know or refused to answer.

Its findings are based on a telephone poll of 750 registered voters who told pollsters they were likely to vote Nov. 7.

This is a bit below the Daily Press standard that polls should survey at least 800 people, but we thought it was worth sharing because HU’s finding of a decisive Gillespie lead and large percentage of undecided likely voters differs from other polls. Poll results often differ because pollsters don’t always identify likely voters and ask them about their preferences in the same way, while they can weight answers from different types of voters in different ways when calculating results.

Likely voter uptick in CNU survey

As Election Day approaches, the student pollsters at Christopher Newport University’s Wason Center for Public Policy ask the registered voters they survey more questions about how closely they’re following the campaign — and, intriguingly, the result from this week’s tracking poll survey is that the percentage who seem likely to vote is on the rise.

Out of a pool of registered voters who actually voted recently some 86 percent made it through the students’ screening questions to be considered likely voters.

That’s significantly more than the 66 percent of registered voters who seemed likely to vote in early October and the 74 percent who seemed likely to vote in September, when the students asked fewer questions about plans to vote. It bucks the trend of the Wason Center’s tracking polls for the 2014 Senate race, when the percentage of active registered voters deemed to be likely voters declined. In that race, the late October likely voter percentage was 78 percent and actual turnout was 42 percent.

Wason Center director Quentin Kidd notes that the percentage who seem likely to vote after the latest poll’s tighter screen probably translates to a turnout of 44 percent of registered voters. That’s on the high side for gubernatorial elections, which may be why the survey found between 46.2 and 53.8 percent of likely Virginia voters say they support Northam, while between 39.2 percent and 46.8 percent favor Gillespie. Libertarian Cliff Hyra is preferred by somewhere between none and 6.8 percent.

Ress can be reached by telephone at 757-247-4535

Copyright © 2017, The Virginia Gazette
55°