Terry McAuliffe, Glenn Youngkin make last-bid efforts

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As Virginia voters cast their ballots to determine the next governor of the Commonwealth, Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin held their final day of campaigning in last-bid efforts to win the neck-and-neck election. 

Thousands of voters were expected to cast their ballots in person at the polls on Tuesday, after over 1,600,000 voters submitted their ballots early — in person and by mail — according to the Virginia Public Access Project. 

As of 11 a.m., 1,167,659 ballots had been cast according to local reports which cited Chris Piper, Commissioner for the Virginia Department of Elections. That number, just under 20 percent of registered voters in Virginia, includes 862,927 early ballots submitted in person, election day voting, 306,662 mail votes, and 88,000 mail in ballots the elections department is set to receive. 

Two recent polls show Youngkin pulling ahead of McAuliffe in a closely watched race that many believe could be a bellwether for the 2022 midterm congressional races.

Youngkin was spotted playing basketball outside a polling place at Rocky Run Middle School in Fairfax. He was also pictured speaking with supporters outside the school. 

McAuliffe was seen speaking to supporters during a Canvassing kickoff event in Falls Church with supporters of all ages.

Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin walks to the basketball court on Election Day for 2021 Virginia election at Rocky Run Middle School in Fairfax, Virginia, USA, 02 November 2021.
Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin walks to the basketball court on Election Day at Rocky Run Middle School in Fairfax, Virginia, November 2, 2021.
EPA/SHAWN THEW

Both candidates held rallies Sunday and Monday to close out their campaign, touching on a major hot topic of the election: education and parent input. 

Throughout the election, Youngkin has garnered a lot of support from parents and Republican lawmakers who have accused McAuliffe of trying to keep parents out of the classroom. 

The accusations were fueled by comments the former Virginia governor made during a September debate, where he said, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”

Democratic gubernatorial candidate, former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe speaks to supporters during a Canvass Kickoff event on November 02, 2021 in Falls Church, Virginia.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe speaks to supporters during a Canvass Kickoff event on November 2, 2021 in Falls Church, Virginia.
Win McNamee/Getty Images

On Sunday, McAuliffe called for the commonwealth to “diversify” its teacher base, complaining that too many educators there are white.

Youngkin has repeatedly expressed support for parents to voice their concerns over particular curriculum in classrooms. In a Monday op-ed, the Republican noted the importance of empowering parents, calling it “simply paramount.” 

As of Monday, Youngkin led McAuliffe by 47 percent to 45 percent according to a Fox 5/Insider Advantage poll released Monday. The Republican’s lead emerged last week after a Fox News survey found Youngkin ahead by eight percentage points. 

Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin (L) plays basketball on Election Day for 2021 Virginia election at Rocky Run Middle School in Fairfax, Virginia, USA, 02 November 2021.
Thousands of voters are expected to cast their ballots in person at the polls on Tuesday.
EPA/SHAWN THEW

The gubernatorial election has already seen massive voter turnout, particularly with early voting. 

During the 2017 gubernatorial election, approximately 189,891 registered voters submitted their ballots early. That number ballooned to nearly 3 million during the 2020 presidential election — held amid the pandemic — and settled to just over 1.6 million this year.

Around 53 percent of early voters this year were Democrats, while approximately 30.9 percent were Republicans, according to Targetearly. 

Democratic gubernatorial candidate, former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe
Two recent polls show Glenn Youngkin pulling ahead of Terry McAuliffe in a closely watched race.
Win McNamee/Getty Images

The polls are set to close at 7 pm, after which ballots can begin to be tabulated and the counts can start to be reported.

In the Commonwealth of Virginia, ballots that are postmarked by Nov. 2 that arrive after election day can still be counted as long as they arrive by noon on Nov. 5. Given the massive jump in early voter turnout compared to 2017, it is unclear how those ballots could affect the end result. 

Virginia does not have automatic recounts and if a candidate would like to request one, the difference between the two candidates must be less than one percent.

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