Absentee voting in Virginia on pace to rival 2016 numbers

Absentee voting in Virginia on pace to rival 2016 numbers
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Absentee ballot voting in Virginia this year is on pace to rival numbers from 2016, according to an analysis by Virginia Public Access Project released on Friday.

Almost 78,000 residents have cast a ballot since early voting began on Sept. 15, more than double the amount who did so during last year's gubernatorial election, the group found. In the 2014 midterms, state voters cast 123,221 absentee ballots.

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But with more than 2 1/2 weeks to go before the Nov. 6 midterm elections, the number of early ballots may come close to the 496,452 absentee votes cast in 2016.

“It’s actually quite shocking,” Richard Keech, deputy director of the elections office in Loudoun County, told The Washington Post. “This would be the first time without a president on the ballot that we’ve seen this kind of increase."

Loudoun County has seen a 239 percent rise in absentee voting this year, with 11,106 ballots either already cast or mailed to voters so far.

The analysis showed early voting is particularly high in tight House races, especially in Virginia’s 2nd, 5th and 7th Congressional Districts.

The numbers indicate a hyper-charged electorate heading into a midterm election that will determine which party controls the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Hot button issues such as immigration, health care and Supreme Court Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughTrump decries whistleblower story as 'another media disaster' The Hill's Morning Report — Trump's new controversy Trump judicial picks face rare GOP opposition MORE’s confirmation have ignited enthusiasm across the U.S. political spectrum, and multiple polls show many voters are treating the midterm elections as a referendum on President TrumpDonald John TrumpJulián Castro: It's time for House Democrats to 'do something' about Trump Warren: Congress is 'complicit' with Trump 'by failing to act' Sanders to join teachers, auto workers striking in Midwest MORE.

An anti-Trump wave swept Gov. Ralph Northam (D-Va.) into office last year by a larger-than-expected margin and almost brought the Democrats into the majority in the Virginia House of Delegates.