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Early voting starts Friday, Culpeper will choose in congressional, Town Council elections

Early voting starts Friday in Culpeper County for this fall’s general election for Congress.

On the ballot for all Culpeper County residents is the selection of their House representative in the 7th Congressional District.

The candidates are two-term U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger, a Democrat who lives in Henrico County, and Prince William County Supervisor Yesli Vega, the Republican nominee. Part of Vega’s Coles District in Prince William was included in the redrawn 7th District.

Neither candidate now lives in the new 7th District.

Henrico was drawn out of the new 7th District as part of redistricting that occurs every 10 years when the U.S. Census is updated. In interviews, Spanberger has said she serves the people of the current 7th District until Jan. 2, and will make plans to move to the new 7th District after Jan. 23, when the 118th Congress begins.

Members of Congress must live in the state they represent, but not necessarily the same district, according to history.house.gov.

In other electoral news for local residents, the town of Culpeper will also hold a special election Nov. 8 for residents to select from three candidates to fill two vacant Town Council seats. The court ordered the special election to fill two vacancies for unexpired terms ending Dec. 31, 2023.

The Town Council candidates are Brian Brumfield-Horner, Erick Kalenga and Pranas Rimeikis. The election will be open to all town residents.

Starting Friday, 45 days before the Nov. 8 general election, Culpeper County registered voters can cast ballots in person from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Registrar’s Office at 151 N. Main St. The office will be closed Oct. 8 for Columbus Day.

Early voting takes place on the second floor of downtown’s Giles Miller Building, which also houses the county treasurer and commissioner of the revenue. Voters should take the elevator up to the second floor to cast early ballots or turn in absentee ballots.

In 2021’s general election, nearly 13 percent of registered voters in Culpeper County—more than 4,500 people—voted early in person or by absentee ballot.

In addition, the Registrar’s Office is open for absentee voting the last two Saturdays before all elections. The last day to vote absentee in person at the Main Street office will be Saturday, Nov. 5.

On Election Day, voters need to go to their assigned polling place, as the Registrar’s Office is not a polling place on Election Day, General Registrar James Clements said.

Absentee ballots, in addition, can be returned by mail or dropped by the local Registrar’s Office by a deadline of 7 p.m. on Election Day.

Absentee mail ballots will be mailed to those voters who have applied for one by this Friday, Sept. 23, Clements said.

“Voters should expect to receive them no later than early next week. Patience is greatly appreciated,” he said.

Before coming to the office to vote early in-person, residents should check registration status at elections.virginia.gov/citizen-portal/ or call 540/825-0652.

Those who are not already registered to vote will have to wait five days after registration before they can be issued an absentee ballot. An exception to this rule is made for military and overseas voters only.

Residents with a Virginia DMV license or ID card can register to vote online.

Monday, Oct. 17, is the last day to register to vote in the November election. The last day to request an absentee ballot by mail is Oct. 28.

Absentee ballots received at the Culpeper County Voter Registration and Election Office on or before 7 p.m. on Election Day are reported in election-night totals.

The deadline is Nov. 14 for the registrar to receive mailed absentee ballots, which must be postmarked by Nov. 8. This deadline was extended due to the Veterans Day holiday on Nov. 11.

Due to redistricting, some Culpeper County voters have been moved from the West Fairfax, East Fairfax, Eggbornsville and Lignum precincts. All other voting sites were not affected, Clements said.

Culpeper County is unchanged for being in the 7th District along with Orange, which historically was represented in Congress by James Madison from his Montpelier plantation in Orange County. He was a representative to the First, Second and Third Congresses at the nation’s founding.

Madison was elected as an anti-administration candidate to the First Congress, Second and Third Congresses and re-elected as a Democratic Republican to the Fourth Congress (March 4, 1789-March 3, 1797), according to history.house.gov.

Today, the 7th District has changed to a west-to-east region, spanning the mountains and Shenandoah National Park of Greene and Madison counties to King George and Caroline in the east, and a small piece of Prince William to the north, including Dale City, population about 73,000.

Rappahannock and Fauquier are gone from the 7th District, though they are still part of the state’s Culpeper planning district. Also gone from the new 7th are Richmond and its suburbs. Orange and Culpeper remain near the center of the 7th District, along with Spotsylvania and Stafford.

On Wednesday, Spanberger announced she plans to barnstorm the 7th District on Saturday to kick off early voting “by joining volunteers and local leaders … and talking about the stakes of this election.”

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia, will join her in Prince William County to rally supporters to mark the start of early voting. Spanberger also plans to barnstorm through Fredericksburg, Stafford and Woodbridge.

“Districts and polling locations have changed for some voters as part of the redistricting process following the 2020 Census,” Virginia Department of Elections Commissioner Susan Beals said this week. “We encourage every voter to check their polling location on their voter notice.”

The state will mail notices this week to voters whose congressional districts changed.

Check local voting sites at voteinculpeper.info

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