For the first time since the tumultuous 2020 race, Virginia voters will take to the polls for a general election on November 2 to elect leaders and representatives for a variety of state and local offices. The election will also serve as a test of party strength under a Democratic-controlled White House.
Statewide, voters will choose who will become the Commonwealth’s next governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general. Locally, elections will take place in each district of the Virginia House of Delegates.
In the governor’s race, former Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe will face off against Republican Glenn Youngkin. He is eligible to run again based on Virginia’s constitution that prevents serving consecutive terms as governor, but allows multiple terms if they are separate from each other. McAuliffe previously served as governor from 2014 to 2018.
Senior Zaven Masih wants the next governor to make the state more inclusive and get COVID-19 under control. In one final wish, he explained, “I’m hoping the governor works in the best interest of Virginians.”
McAuliffe’s platform includes traditional Democratic positions on many issues. He is pro-choice and supports mask and vaccine mandates. Unlike McAuliffe’s, Youngkin’s campaign takes conservative positions on most issues. He opposes imposing mask and vaccine mandates and supports increased restrictions on abortions.
In addition to the Governor’s race, the upcoming election will also feature choices for lieutenant governor and attorney general. For lieutenant governor, Democrat Hala Ayala is running against Republican Winsome Sears, and in the attorney general race, incumbent Democrat Mark Herring faces Republican Jason Miyares.
There are many methods of voting in use for this election. Early in-person voting is available at select sites across Fairfax County. Like in the 2020 election, mail-in voting is another option every voter can utilize to make their voice heard. On election day, polls will be open until 7:00pm, and anyone in line by that time will have the opportunity to vote.
Masih explained why he believes voting is important, saying, “Unless you’re running for office, that’s [voting] one of the only ways you can make your voice heard, how you can affect the future of the country.”
This election has significant implications for the makeup of Virginia’s government. Currently, Democrats control both houses of the state legislature and the governor’s office. Although no Virginia Senate seats are on the ballot, with all 100 House of Delegate seats up for election, the current Democratic majority there could expand, diminish, or go away entirely if Republicans win enough seats. Additionally, the winner of the Governor’s race will gain the power to veto bills and lead the state. If any result of the election leads to different parties controlling different parts of the state government, then Republicans and Democrats will be forced to work together to govern the state.
The results of this race could also give clues to how the 2022 midterm elections could go. Typically, the party that controls the White House loses seats in Congress during midterm elections. With a Democrat in the White House, a strong performance from the Republican party in Virginia could forecast Republican gains in Congress come the midterms. On the other hand, good results for Democrats could indicate that the 2022 midterms could deviate from the usual pattern.