November means it is time to vote. This year, Election Day is Tuesday, November 6. Sometimes as adults, we are embarrassed to admit we do not know something that we think we ought to. Rather than say we are unsure of who is on the ballot or where to vote, we would rather sit it out.
Please reconsider! Voting is one of our most important rights as citizens, and Family Advocate is here to help with the details. There is no shame in being a little confused. After all, in Virginia, we have elections every year, and congressional districts were redrawn two years ago. So you might find you are now in a different district than you thought you were with different elected lawmakers crafting legislation that impacts your family. If government and politics are not your job or your passion, it can be a little challenging to keep up with the changes.
This year’s election is called a midterm because it falls in the middle of a president’s term in office. The entire U.S. House of Representatives runs for office every two years; this year, Virginia voters will be electing representatives in all eleven districts. Senate terms are six years, but the terms are staggered so no more than one-third of senators are running every two years. Each state has two senators who represent the entire state. This year, Virginians will be electing one U.S. senator. And we get a break this year on our statewide elections and General Assembly seats, with the exception of a special election in the Roanoke area for a House of Delegates seat.
Current Virginia Senator Timothy M. Kaine is running for reelection. He is a Democrat, and he is being challenged by Republican candidate Corey A. Stewart and Libertarian candidate Matt J. Waters. No matter where you live in Virginia, you will see those candidates’ names on the ballot November 6.
Of Virginia’s eleven congressional districts, three encompass parts of the greater Richmond area. Here are the candidates for our region:
District 1: Robert J. “Rob” Wittman* (R) Vangie A. Williams (D)
District 4: Ryan A. McAdams (R) A. Donald McEachin* (D) Peter J. “Pete” Wells (L)
District 7: Dave A. Brat* (R) Abigail A. Spanberger (D) Joseph B. Walton (L)
*Currently holds the seat.
In addition to these candidates, there will also be two questions on the ballot this year offering voters the opportunity to amend the Virginia State Constitution. Both questions pertain to property tax exemptions, and the specifics can be found on the Virginia Department of Elections website (elections.virginia.gov).
Now that you know who and what is on the ballot, how do you find out more about the candidates? The nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project (vpap.org) provides a wealth of information about elections. By entering your home address, you can find out in which district you live and then research your candidates. Another option is to explore local media sources to learn more from their significant coverage of the candidates. WCVE, the local public radio station, has a section on its website for state and local politics: ideastations.org. You can also subscribe to the Richmond Times-Dispatch online and pay for its coverage of politics and elections: richmond.com.
Once you have decided for whom you want to vote on November 6, where do you go to vote? If you have misplaced your voter registration card with polling place information, the Virginia Department of Elections can supply that information online. Visit vote.elections.virginia.gov and enter your name and other information to find your polling place. When you vote, bring your valid Virginia photo ID. The types of photo ID which are accepted are also listed at elections.virginia.gov. You do not need your voter registration card to vote. The polls are open from six in the morning to seven at night to accommodate different work schedules. As long as you are in line by seven, you are eligible to vote.
Finally, when you vote, take your kids or grandkids to show them how it works. After all, you are raising the next generation of voters!