RICHMOND, Va. -- If you plan to vote in the 2019 general election, Tuesday, October 15 is the last day to register in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
The Virginia general election is on Tuesday, November 5. All 140 seats in Virginia’s General Assembly are up for election, and with Republicans holding a two-seat margin in both chambers, the balance of power at the State Capitol is up for grabs.
Applications to vote must by mail must be postmarked by October 15, in-person applications must be submitted by 5 pm on Tuesday, and online applications must be submitted by 11:59 p.m.
Voter registration applications are also available at DMV customer service centers, social service offices, public libraries and other state and local government offices.
To register to vote in Virginia, you must:
- be a U.S. citizen,
- be a resident of Virginia
- be at least 18 years old by Election Day (November 5, 2019)
- have had voting rights restored if convicted of a felony
- have had the capacity restored by court order if declared mentally incapacitated
- not be registered and plan to vote in another state.
Republicans hold a slim lead in both the Virginia House of Delegates (51-48) and Virginia Senate (20-19). The party that best energizes their base of voters across the state will control the legislative agenda in Richmond for the next two years at least.
Legislative contests in 2019 are what longtime political analyst Dr. Bob Holsworth refers to as "off-off year" elections, meaning General Assembly seats are decided in years when no statewide or national are on the ballot. Historically, voter turnout is much lower in these years.
"These races really attract people who are very, very interested in politics. Now this year is a little different because the stakes actually are so high," Holsworth said.
While statewide turnout does not determine the winner in specific districts, Holsworth said it could be an indicator as to which party was more successful in getting their message across.
"If we look at history, what we see in these off-off year elections, traditionally Republicans have actually done a little better than the Democrats at turning out their people, so the Republicans are somewhat optimistic that their folks will come out," Holsworth said. "The thing that could change that, if we take a look at the last couple of elections, in 2017 and 2018, it was the Democrats in Virginia who turned out in larger numbers, primarily, I think, because they wanted to send a statement to Donald Trump, who they don't like."
At the Henrcio County Registrar's Office Tuesday, a steady stream of voters filed in to either vote absentee or finalize their registration. Several voters who spoke to CBS 6 said the state of current political dialogue and their duty as a citizen to vote drove them to get involved in Virginia's 2019 elections.
"Both chambers are up for grabs, and as well as, Virginia making our national news based on a seres of scandals from our top elected officials in the state," said Dennis Bried, who voted absentee. "If you're going to be complaining about what's going on, either locally or nationally, you darn well better have your butt out here voting and getting your voice heard."
"I think this is the most important election of my lifetime," said Linda Gueringer, who gave a friend a ride so she could change her registered address. "Well, for African Americans, we had to deal with poll taxes and literacy tests, and you know, we struggled to over turn that. And it is important that everyone's voice be heard."
If you would like more information, CBS 6 has compiled an election guide with information and resources on each local race.