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Tipsheet

Virginia Has More of an Election Season Than Election Day, But Voters 'Consistent' in Wanting Election Reform

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

It was after midnight in Virginia when Governor-Elect Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) made his victory speech before his supporters who had been waiting for hours for it. While many sources, including the Decision Desk, which Townhall uses for coverage, called the race in favor of Youngkin on Tuesday night, many were still too hesitant. Matt highlighted in his coverage how Fox News was particularly slow. One reason for that may be that Virginia doesn't have an Election Day so much as it has an Election Season when it comes to votes coming in to be counted.

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Early voting in Virginia started on September 17, 45-days before Election Day. Not only could voters mail in their ballots during that early voting period, they also had until Election day to postmark their ballot, which would be counted so long as it was received by Friday, November 5, a full three days after the election. 

In 2020, Gov. Ralph Northam (D-VA), who voted early, touted in a press release that he signed legislation earlier that year that allowed voters to cast their ballot through no-excuse absentee ballots as well as removed a provision requiring voters to have a reason to vote early 

Early votes and mail-in ballots almost certainly end up favoring the Democratic candidate. 

Last year, a plurality of total voters cast their ballots by mail. A majority of those who voted for President Joe Biden did so. 

Last month, however, as I covered, a poll from Rasmussen Reports found that a majority, at 65 percent, believe that mail-in voting will lead to more cheating in elections, including 51 percent who say it's very likely. 

Fairfax County, a heavily Democratic county and one of the last to come in each election, was facing some serious issues last night, as Spencer warned. Approximately an hour after the polls closed at 7:00pm in Virginia, the county announced that it would miss a self-imposed deadline of 8:00pm for counting early votes would be delayed and was also re-scanning ballots.

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Ultimately, it was reported in an update by Katie that both parties approved of the delay, which was due to an out of date/defective memory card and that GOP lawyers were present in the room the entire time. 

Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe won the county, as was predicted he certainly would. However, he only won it by 64.63 percent, compared to Youngkin's 34.85 percent. President Joe Biden won the county by 69.9 percent to former President Donald Trump's 28 percent. Current governor, Democrat Ralph Northam, won the county by 67.87 percent to Republican Ed Gillespie's 31.15 percent.

Pollster Richard Baris also covered this issue of Election Day voting deadlines as they pertain to Virginia voters. 

In a Big Picture poll from last week that found Youngkin with 49.5 percent support from likely voters, respondents were also asked if they supported or opposed or were unsure about"Election Day deadlines for officials to report the total number of votes cast in their precincts/counties to prevent suspicion surrounding late-arriving ballots." A strong majority, of 72.6 percent, supported this provision, with a plurality strongly supporting it, by 47.2 percent.

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When asked if there was greater election reform policies in place, specifically as it applied to Election Day reporting deadlines, if there would be faster results, Baris was clear in his statement for Townhall

"Imposing Election Day deadlines for precincts and counties to report vote totals would assuredly lead to faster resolutions, barring gross incompetence. The delaying of vote counting is almost exclusively a problem associated with absentee ballots, or vote-by-mail. In Florida, officials are allowed to begin processing absentee ballots weeks before Election Day, far earlier than many other states, to include Virginia where officials must wait until 3pm EST on Election Day," he said.

Baris also contrasted the vote returns in Virginia this year to last year's results. "But that’s not the only reason they were more proficient and timely counting votes on Election Day last November. Florida requires votes cast by mail to be received by 7pm EST on Election Day, which large majorities of voters across the country support. Virginia requires the ballot only to be postmarked by Election Day and can be received by 12pm EST up to 3 days after Election Day, a system voters overwhelmingly oppose and believe to be easily exploitable, especially without strict verification procedures," he added.

When asked about trust in election as well, Baris brought up that mistrust thanks to mail-in voting. 

"Whether it’s a national or a statewide survey, it’s amazing how consistent voters have been when asked about election integrity. While voters want voting to be as easy as possible, they do not believe convenance should come before trust in the integrity of election results. That trust has been shattered with the advent of universal vote-by-mail, and the relaxing standards and deadlines for existing absentee ballot voting that accompanied it. If Election Day deadlines were imposed, it would remove that suspicion surrounding late arriving ballots," he said. "Contrary to claims made by media, this sentiment is shared by majorities of every party affiliation. In Virginia, 56.6% of Democrats supported the imposition of Election Day deadlines."

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This article has been updated to include statements from Baris for Townhall. 

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