Richmond Precinct makes final preparations ahead of Election Day
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - With just hours until polls open in Virginia, preparations are well underway to make sure everything runs smoothly as possible. Tuesday the polls will open in what is one of the most closely watched races in the country.
Richmond Director of Elections Keith Balmer says localities have been hard at work shutting down early voting locations as they prepare to open election voting booths and are ensuring everyone’s vote will count.
“All of the election materials have already been delivered to all of the precincts here in the city,” Balmer said. “I would imagine that is the case for all of the polling precincts in the entire viewing area.
Balmer says there are 157,000 voters registered in Richmond of which 24,000 have already cast their ballot early. He says the 2020 election saw 60% of registered voters cast their ballot before Election Day.
“A lot of people want to see just what the mood of the country is,” Balmer said.
In terms of turnout for a Governor’s race, Balmer says early voting numbers have dwarfed numbers set in 2017 by as much as eight times.
“What I saw in the numbers here in Richmond is that we saw 24,000 who cast their ballot before election day,” Balmer said. “Four years ago for the gubernatorial election, there were 3,000 registered voters here in the city who voted before election day, so to go from 3,000 to 24,000 is a pretty big jump and basically what that says is that people are responding to the new no excuse absentee law that went into effect last year.”
Balmer says regardless of turnout because all early and absentee ballots are being counted first this year the Richmond governor’s race results could be determined just hours after polls close.
“We have spent the last week doing what’s called preprocessing absentee ballots which is a procedure in which we slide absentee ballots into the voting machine so that they can be counted,” Balmer said. “It provides a way of getting a jump start on the results and makes it easier to record the results.”
“If it’s all a smooth process then all our results should be reported by 9:30 pm.,” Balmer said.
Those who haven’t voted early yet say they are making sure to get in line early when polls open Tuesday.
I’m pretty excited. My grandmother has been telling me to go vote, go vote.I know personally how important this election is so I’m definitely going to go out and vote tomorrow morning,” Tyrik Johnson said.
“If the person you wanted to win doesn’t win it’s mostly because most people sat at home and believe that a vote doesn’t count, but your vote does count, it does count,” Steve Hartless said.
Balmer said that with the pandemic still in effect voters will be recommended to wear a mask and maintain a social distance of at least 6 feet., but there will be no mandatory masking protocol in place.
Folks who are unsure of where to vote can look up their polling place at the Department of Elections website elections.virginia.gov.
In terms of I.D., Balmer says your state-issued driver’s license, student I.D., passport, or a current utility bill so that you will be allowed to vote.
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