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In recent weeks, the presidential campaigns--particularly the Democratic one--have been suggesting that supporters not wait until Election Day to vote, but to go ahead and cast their ballots early.
President Barack Obama voted early himself, stopping at his precinct in Chicago last week to cast his ballot, becoming the first sitting president to vote early.
The Obama campaign is pushing for early voting because they say it will bring more people into the process and eliminate many of the Election Day difficulties--finding child care, taking time from work, unforeseen weather issues--that can prevent people from voting.
Virginia doesn't have the same kind of early voting that some states have, but it does have absentee voting, both through the mail and in person. Voters do have to state a reason why they can't vote on Election Day.
But with Hurricane Sandy bearing down on the East Coast, the state Board of Elections has urged voter registrars to "be accommodating" to voters who want to vote absentee because of the storm's potential impact on later voting.
While Virginia voters have been able to vote in person absentee for weeks, Saturday was the first weekend day that registrars' offices were open for voting. They'll also be open this Saturday.
Susan Carol was among those voting absentee in Fredericksburg Saturday. She and her daughter, Stephanie Crook, 19, stopped to vote after buying flowers at the farmer's market.
Carol said she will be out of town on Election Day and did not want to miss out on the opportunity to cast her vote. "It's a very important election," she said.
Reshma Parab also voted absentee Saturday.
She said that the issues in the current election cycle are too important not to vote.
"I didn't vote last time," she said. "I felt like I need to have my voice heard."
Also voting absentee in Fredericksburg Saturday was Jimmy Perry. He declined to comment on who he voted for but said, "I believe in women's rights and opportunity for future generations, so that should tell you."
Voter registrar Juanita Pitchford said that the city has been keeping her office updated about the storm.
"Of course we're concerned about voting, but that's nature," she said.
By 2 p.m. Saturday 41 people has voted absentee. The polls open at 9 a.m. and close at 5 p.m.
The day before, 47 people voted. Staffers at the registrar's office said that after Gov. Bob McDonnell declared a state of emergency in anticipation of Hurricane Sandy, people "started piling in."
In Spotsylvania County, registrar Kellie Acors said her office had seen 275 in-person absentee voters as of late afternoon Saturday. They had 230 on Friday, and have had 2,176 early voters so far.
In 2008, Acors said, the county had 3,300 in-person absentee voters, so she feels the pace this time is on track with 2008.
Stafford registrar Gregory Riddlemoser said his office is seeing more in-person absentee voters every day. By Saturday afternoon, about 270 people had voted, and the office saw 250 voters on Friday.
Riddlemoser had expected more voters on Saturday--more like a thousand. He now thinks he'll see numbers like that this Saturday, the last weekend day to vote, and said the pace of in-person absentee voting in Stafford is ahead of 2008 levels.
The state has advised voter registrars to keep their offices open during the storm over the next few days, unless conditions make it unsafe to do so.
Riddlemoser said he feels it's his duty to keep his office open for anyone who wants to come vote.
Chelyen Davis: 540/368-5028