The 2017 Virginia primary is upon us, and there are lots of things to know before you go to the polls to cast your ballot. We’ve put together a comprehensive guide in an attempt to answer your burning questions before you head to your polling station Tuesday. There are a full roster of candidates running for governor, lieutenant governor, state legislature seats, and local positions in the City of Richmond and Henrico as well.
When to vote
Polls are open from 6:00 AM – 7:00 PM on Primary Day. Turnout is typically lighter for primary elections, but if there’s a line at your polling station, rest assured you’ll be able to cast your ballot as long as you’re in line to vote by 7:00 PM.
Where to vote
Your polling place is determined by your home address. You can look up your designated location here. If you have questions about your polling station, your best bet is to contact your local voter registration office, which you can look up here. The deadline to register to vote or update your information has passed, of course, but they should be able to field other questions you may have about the process.
What to bring
Virginia law requires voters to show a valid photo ID in order to cast a ballot. Your driver’s license is probably your best bet, but if you don’t have one, the following are also accepted:
- Virginia DMV-issued photo ID
- United States passport
- Employer-issued photo ID
- Student photo ID issued by a school, college, or university located in Virginia
- Other U.S. or Virginia government-issued photo ID
- Tribal enrollment or other tribal photo ID
- Virginia voter photo ID card
If you have none of the above, keep in mind you can still visit your nearest voter registration office for a free voter ID card, even on Election Day. Check out this page for answers to any other questions on the photo ID requirement. If you forget your ID, you’ll still be allowed to cast a provisional ballot. Staffers will give you information on what to do after the fact to ensure your vote counts.
How primary voting works
In Virginia, primary elections are open, meaning you don’t have to be a registered, card-carrying Republican or Democrat to participate, however the elections are separate from one another.
Virginia’s dual primary consists of two separate elections conducted on the same day, often (but not always) for the same office or offices. There are separate ballots, but both are counted on the same machines, and results for each primary are tallied and reported separately. Virginia law only allows you to vote in one of these two separate elections. You must indicate your choice when you arrive to vote.
The actual selections you make on your ballot are confidential, but the fact that you vote in any election is not. You must tell the pollworkers which ballot you want to vote so they can mark your name in the pollbook for that party’s ballot and give you the correct ballot. There may also be party representatives present in your polling place. They are entitled by law to hear the names of persons voting, and that includes knowing the party ballot chosen by the voter in a dual primary.
Incumbent Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam was the first Democrat to declare for the race. He had received several key endorsements from Democratic leaders in the state. Tom Perriello, who served in the United States House of Representatives representing the 5th District of Virginia from 2009 to 2011, also announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination in January 2017.
Three Republican candidates are running: political consultants Ed Gillespie, Corey Stewart, and state Senator Frank Wagner. U.S. Congressman Rob Wittman also declared his candidacy, but he withdrew from the race in December 2016. Of the three candidates, Gillespie maintained a steady lead in the polls through May 2017, but polls indicate over one-third of likely Republican primary voters remain undecided.
If you’re voting on a Democratic ballot in the City of Richmond, you’ll also see candidates for Treasurer and Sheriff. In Henrico County’s Brookland District? The Board of Supervisors seat is up for grabs after longtime supervisor Richard W. “Dick” Glover passed away. On the Republican ballot you have Benjamin Dessart, Gilbert Wilkerson, Sr., and Robert H. “Bob” Witte, Jr. No Democratic candidates are on the ballot. Read more about the candidates in this coverage from Henrico Citizen here.
What’s on my ballot
You can see exactly who (and what, in the case of amendments and other proposals) is on your ballot in advance right here. This is helpful if you need to research the issues in advance. But, regardless of what smaller races are on your ballot, everyone will have the chance to cast a vote for governor and lieutenant governor.
Governor: Democratic candidates
Governor: Republican candidates
- Ed Gillespie – Political consultant, advocate
- Corey Stewart – Chairman, Prince William Board of County Supervisors; chairman, Trump for President
- Frank Wagner – State senator
Lieutenant Governor: Democratic candidates
- Justin Fairfax – Former federal prosecutor
- Gene Rossi – Assistant U.S. Attorney
- Susan Platt – Political consultant
Lieutenant Governor: Republican candidates
- Election Day FAQ from Virginia Department of Elections
- Ballotpedia guide to the 2017 Virginia primary, with candidate information and positions