‘Voting is brisk:’ Turnout appears to be on track to outpace 2014 midterms, election official says

Voters in Chesterfield County's Evergreen West precinct, which saw a surge of Democratic voters in 2017 after Trump's 2016 election. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

Turnout in this year’s midterm elections appears to be on track to be higher than expected, said Chris Piper, commissioner of the Virginia Department of Elections.

The department doesn’t collect data until the polls close at 7 p.m., but reports of longer-than-normal lines suggest there is a “large number of people interested in this election,” Piper said.

“We’re seeing increased activity over 2014, that’s for sure,” he said.

Some areas with noticeable increases in turnout include Northern Virginia, where Republican U.S. Rep. Barbara Comstock is trying to hang onto her seat amid a challenge from Democratic state Sen. Jennifer Wexton; and Chesterfield County, where Republican U.S. Rep. Dave Brat is vying with Democrat Abigail Spanberger.

In-person turnout is following the trend of an increase in absentee voting, Piper said. As of this morning, 318,000 absentee ballots had been returned to the state.

In 2014, 131,000 absentee ballots were returned, Piper said.

Turnout in the 2014 midterms was 2.1 million, about 42 percent. For a look at historic mid-term voter participation (with a Senate seat on the ballot), VPAP has you covered.