Latest from Virginia, Atlanta and more

November 2, 2021
MCLEAN, VIRGINIA - OCTOBER 29: Cars line up along Balls Hill Road waiting to enter the McClean Government Center during early voting on October 29, 2021 in McLean, Virginia. Recent polls indicate the governors race in Virginia is a a dead heat between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin.
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Voting has begun in the 2021 election, a collection of races that political prognosticators will be watching for clues about the themes that could define the pivotal 2022 midterm.

Voters will choose new governors in Virginia and New Jersey, new congressional representatives in two Ohio districts and new mayors in some of the nation’s largest cities.

Polls opened early on Tuesday, but early voting has been going on for weeks in some states.

The results will be dissected for any inkling of what they can tell us about 2022, when Republicans will try to retake control of Congress from the slim Democratic majority.

Democrats have an eight-seat advantage in the House, and control the split Senate. All 435 seats in the House will be up for election in 2022 along with 34 seats in the Senate. 

Read more:5 Things that could decide Virginia election (and 2022): Biden, Trump, culture wars and more

Turnout high in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

At one precinct in Augusta County, Virginia, chief election officer Lesley Piner said she had to ask the county for more ballots before lunchtime, having run out by 11 a.m.

Piner said the county only gave the precinct about 300 ballots for the day. They had surpassed that before noon.

“We’ve been very steady … more than I expected,” she said. 

About 50 people in the precinct opted to vote early and more than 300 out of a total of 1,000 registered voters had voted in the morning — a number that shocked Piner. 

“Normally, I would have thought we’d have 350 people for the entire day,” she said. “We’re going to surpass that, and it’s not even noon.”

Virginia’s polls close at 7 p.m.

– Laura Peters, Staunton News-Leader

Runoff likely in Atlanta mayoral race

ATLANTA — Former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is trying to return for a third term and City Council President Felicia Moore is seeking to move up to the top spot as voting concludes Tuesday in the city’s mayoral race.

Confronting rising crime has been a major focus, but candidates have also addressed concerns about affordable housing, bolstering struggling city services and keeping the wealthy Buckhead neighborhood from seceding. Attacks on Reed over corruption in his administration have been a major subplot, although Reed says the federal investigation regarding him was closed without charges.

With a total of 14 candidates in the nonpartisan race, a Nov. 30 runoff is likely. Other top candidates include attorney Sharon Gay and council members Andre Dickens and Antonio Brown, with large numbers of voters undecided.

Meanwhile, Republicans are watching for any mistakes in Atlanta that could justify a state takeover of elections in heavily Democratic Fulton County, under a sweeping new state law approved amid unproven claims of fraud by former President Donald Trump and his allies.

The race was jolted when Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced in May that she wouldn’t seek a second term. Bottoms broke a decades-long tradition of mayors serving eight years, saying she wasn’t interested in a reelection bid. The last Atlanta mayor who served only a single term was Sam Massell, who lost to Maynard Jackson in 1973 as African Americans took power in city government.

– Associated Press

Study: Voters with disabilities show ‘large gains’ in turnout

Voters with disabilities are enjoying a new era of political relevance this Election Day thanks to the COVID pandemic — both the reforms it spurred and the inequities it laid bare. 

People with disabilities showed “large gains” in 2020’s voter turnout, said Steve Flamisch of Rutgers University’s Program for Disability Research, referring to a report by the university and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. 

Turnout rose to 17.7 million, up from 16 million in 2016, thanks to mail-in ballots and other initiatives, according to the group, which looked at national data.

– Gene Myers, NorthJersey.com

Democrat favored to win in New York mayor race

Eric Adams, a Democrat who is considered the frontrunner to win New York’s mayoral election, would be the second Black mayor in the city’s history if he is elected on Tuesday.

Adams is running against Republican Curtis Sliwa as the top elected official in America’s most populous city. Democrats outnumber Republicans in New York 7-to-1.

Adams is a former police captain and state senator. Sliwa founded a subway safety patrol group.

– Rick Rouan

Voting law changes tested in first election since 2020 presidential contest

Election Day is the first test for some of the hundreds of new voting laws adopted in the year since the 2020 election.

USA TODAY analyzed 254 new laws in 45 states passed since voters cast their ballots last year in the highest turnout election in American history. The analysis reveals changes, seen and unseen, to how we vote.

Those laws include changes to the number of days available for early voting and the hours available to cast ballots on Election Day.

Read more about the changes here.

Boston will elect a woman of color as mayor

In Boston, the contest between city council members Annissa Essaibi George and Michelle Wu means whomever wins will become the city’s first woman and first person of color elected mayor.

The candidates, both Democrats in a nonpartisan race, have chiefly clashed over issues such as affordable housing, public education and transportation. But differences on policing and crime have also emerged.

Wu, daughter of Taiwanese immigrants and a protégé of liberal Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, has called for major police reforms. Before she was a candidate, Wu joined other city council members in calling for a 10% cut to the police department’s budget.

Essaibi George, who describes herself as Polish-Arab American, has opposed reallocating the money and has called for hiring several hundred more police officers. She was endorsed by former Boston police Commissioner William Gross.

– Associated Press

Florida primary to narrow field for congressional seat

Voters in Florida’s 20th congressional district on Tuesday will narrow the wide field of primary candidates competing for the seat formerly held by Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings, who died in April.

Eleven Democrats, two Republicans and a handful of other candidates are running in the southern Florida district.

The special general election is scheduled for Jan. 11.

– Rick Rouan

Races to watch on Election Day

While the Virginia governor’s race has been getting much of the national attention in the runup to Election Day, some other elections also could tell us more about what to expect in the 2022 midterm election.

Tigher-than-expected races for New Jersey governor and Ohio’s 15th congressional district could drop some hints about which way the political weather vane is pointing in 2022. Democrats will be trying to cling to their slim majority in the House next year.

Check out more about the races to watch on Election Day.

Analysis:‘A new American fault line’: How new election laws will make it harder for 55 million to vote



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