Slow, but steady turnout for Primary Day in Central Virginia

Voter turnout has been lower than some election officials were hoping.
Published: Jun. 20, 2023 at 7:12 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - While there are some competitive races in the 2023 primaries, election officials say turnout is overall low. In the Eastern part of Henrico, they’re hoping for 10% of registered voters to cast their ballots.

“People are realizing just how important it is to come out and vote and to exercise their right to do so,” said election officer Daphne Hill.

Hill has been an election officer since 2008. She says in recent years, she’s seen turnout decline on Primary Day due to the pandemic and the newer option of early voting.

“Our absentee voting has been quite high,” said Henrico County Registrar Mark Coakley. “We’ve had over 20,000 voters vote absentee either by mail or in person, so that’s why you’re seeing a low election day turnout so far.”

The primaries determine the candidates for each party for the statewide elections in November. Voters receive either a Democrat or Republican ballot, though most precincts only have the option for one.

“I want to be able to have a say in the local elections and at least have an idea of what’s going on,” said Henrico voter Matthew Dawson. “It was hard to find information on these candidates, just in general trying to get to the bottom of who was voting for what, what they stand for. You could find little blurbs, and you could find their websites, but in terms of what they actually voted for, what they actually stood for, it took a lot of research.”

For this primary and future elections, local registrars and election officers remind people to bring their ID if they want to cast their ballot and remember to be patient. Election officials also remind people to check their precincts before heading out.

I think when everyone is patient and respectful, the day-to-day works really well on both sides, even when you have really, really long lines, or like it’s starting to rain,” Hill said.

Election officers say same-day registration helped eliminate some issues, like if people came to vote but were not registered or if voters just moved.