All of the campaigning, cajoling, exhorting and enraging ads and emails of the last few months have led up to this.
Tuesday, Central Virginians join the rest of the commonwealth in heading to the polls to cast ballots to fill a plethora of state and local offices from governor to town council.
Political pundits and experts say voters should ignore polls that indicate which candidates are likely to win and go vote for the candidates they favor.
“Forget political polls; nobody believes them anymore, anyway,” said Larry J. Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. “Elections are determined by those who show up. It’s obvious, simplistic and also ignored by the millions who don’t bother to vote and then complain about the winners afterward.”
All Central Virginia voters will get to choose between candidates in the race for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general. Also up for election are all 100 members of the House of Delegates, which currently is controlled by Republicans.
The GOP has a 66-34 majority in the house, which is one seat away from a supermajority that would prevent a governor’s veto of passed legislation. Democrats would need to gain 17 seats to take control of the chamber.
Precinct polling places across the region will open at 6 a.m. and close at 7 p.m., according to Virginia Board of Elections officials. Voters who are standing in line at 7 p.m. will be allowed to cast their ballot even after the polling places close.
To find a polling place, contact the local voter registrar or visit the state Board of Elections website at elections.virginia.gov.
Voters must show poll workers a photo ID to cast a ballot. Valid forms include Virginia driver’s licenses; state-issued ID cards; U.S. passports; employer-issued ID cards; and student ID cards issued by colleges, universities or other schools located in Virginia.
“If you don’t have an [ID card], simply go to your nearest voter registration office to get a free voter photo ID, even on Election Day,” officials said on the state Board of Elections website. “You will be required to complete an application, have your photo taken and to sign a digital signature pad.”
Voters who do not have an acceptable identification with them at the polls may vote by provisional ballot. The vote will be counted if the voter provides a copy of a photo ID to the local electoral board by noon on Monday, Nov. 13.
Local registrars said Virginia law requires voters to vote in the precinct in which they are registered. Voters who cast provisional ballots in an incorrect precinct, believing that that was precinct that they should have been registered in, will not have their votes counted.
Voters likely will wake up to a cold and rainy Election Day, with precipitation expected to begin in earnest after 8 a.m. Temperatures are expected to drop from a high of 49 degrees to a low of 40 by 4 p.m., according to the National Weather Service. The rain is expected to continue throughout the evening.
Studies have shown that rain decreases voter turnout, but not whether either party benefits from precipitation.
A 2013 study by the University of North Carolina indicates that poor weather may induce those voters who show up to vote for the candidate with a political platform that is considered “less risky.”
Nice weather, the study states, leads voters to cast ballots for political platforms endorsing more radical changes in policy.
“In marginal elections, in which a voter is likely to consider whether to switch from a riskier to the safer candidate, bad weather may result in up to a twice-as-large probability of choosing the safer candidate over the risky one,” the study, written by UNC’s Anna Bassi, states.
Jody Saunders, Albemarle County’s spokeswoman, recommends that voters study up on the ballot prior to going to the polls.
“Election officers, by law, cannot discuss any aspects of ballot content,” she said.
Saunders recommends that voters avoid morning rush hour voting between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. She recommends voting in the late morning or early afternoon.
She also noted that Albemarle County voters in the Porters Precinct will continue to vote at Yancey Elementary School, which closed its doors to students this year.
To help get voters to the polls, Charlottesville Area Transit is offering free fares in its service area.