In less than a week, voters will make their way to the polls to cast their ballots to elect the 140 members of the General Assembly, setting the course of Virginia for years to come. Many people have already made their voices heard. Since September, voters across the Commonwealth have been taking advantage of absentee and early in-person voting. In fact, this is the first full General Assembly election with both a 45-day period of early voting and no-excuse absentee voting. With more than 500,000 ballots already cast, I’d say those policies are paying off. We have made it easier than ever for people to vote, and this year voters are especially motivated to make their voices heard. With so much on the line, it is important now more than ever to get out and vote.
For those who plan to vote on November 7, I ask you to imagine what Virginia would look like with a Republican majority in both the Senate and House of Delegates. At the top of their priority list is restricting reproductive rights. Although they claim to be content with a 15-week ban, we know behind closed doors that is not their intention. The moment they have a majority in both chambers, they will implement a ban similar to that of Florida and Texas. Virginia is the last safe-haven for reproductive care in the South. Republicans are determined to intervene in a woman’s private medical decisions.
Next on their list is cutting gun violence prevention. Just this past year, Republicans rejected a bill to raise the minimum age to buy an assault weapon from 18 to 21. Instead, they proposed legislation to remove red flag laws that Democrats had signed into law a few years prior. Republicans have even set their sights on making significant changes to our voting laws. They introduced legislation to limit early voting and absentee ballots, which are now policies that they are embracing to help get them elected next Tuesday.
If you recall the budget from this past year, the Republican proposal included significant tax breaks, from the top down. They prioritized tax cuts for corporations and wealthy individuals, leaving middle-class families to bear the burden. Their preferred method of budgeting is to heavily cut taxes, meaning fewer dollars for our public schools and social services like mental health reforms. Republicans have even turned classrooms into a battleground of ideology. Instead of focusing on student success, they have prioritized banning books from libraries.
For the last two years, we have seen the extreme policies that the Republicans bring to the table. The only reason Virginia has not become overrun by those policies is because of our Democratic majority in the Senate. Our Senate “brick wall” has held strong against all of their attempts to take us back in time. Without our majority, there would be nothing stopping Republicans from implementing their out of touch agenda. This is what’s at stake.
Even though I will not be in the General Assembly next year, I can tell you firsthand that Democrats have a strong plan to move Virginia forward and protect us from the extreme ideas of today’s Republican Party. We have a plan to safeguard reproductive rights, letting women and their doctors be the decision makers. Democrats want to invest in our public schools, students, teachers, and staff, ensuring fair compensation and quality standards of learning. We want to make classrooms a welcoming place for everyone, not a polarized environment. We have a plan to address gun violence prevention, mental healthcare, and so much more. This election is about moving Virginia forward, not backwards.
On November 7th, I ask you to vote for Democrats up and down the ballot to keep Virginia on track for a better future. Polls will open at 6:00 a.m. and stay open until 7:00 p.m. Every vote counts, so make a plan to go vote and make your voice heard.