Virginia: Know Before You Vote

Written by Ashley Frechette

November 7th is fast approaching. I’m sure like many you’ve arrived at the polls pretty sure you know exactly who you are voting for and what will be on the ballot. You confidently walk into your polling place, recite your name and address and grab your ballot. You head over to the voting booth and check off that first box. Then you look down the ballot and see unfamiliar positions, names, and referendums. You didn’t prep for this. Panicking, you vote down ballot with whoever is in your party, or you simply neglect to cast your vote for any of the other positions or referendums. You slide your ballot into the machine, collect your I Voted! Sticker and slink out of the polls, frantically googling what in the world you just voted for. Next year, you tell yourself, I’ll be more prepared.

Before you hit the polls, it’s incredibly important to know what exactly is on your ballot.

First things first – be sure to know exactly where your polling place is. If you’re not sure please visit the Virginia Department of Elections website.

Next, let’s take a look at what you may see on your ballot. Today we will highlight all of the offices up for vote, with a focus on the Governor’s race. We will focus on each of the other offices and those candidates’ positions.


Governor of Virginia

Ralph S. Northam (D) – Dr. Northam is the current lieutenant governor of Virginia, pediatric neurologist, and veteran. He graduated from VMI and later received his M.D. from Eastern Virginia Medical School.

Ed Gillespie (R) – Mr. Gillespie co-owns Quinn Gillespie & Associates, a bipartisan lobbying firm. He is a professional lobbyist and graduated from the Catholic University of America with his Bachelor’s.

Cliff Hyra (L) – Mr. Hyra graduated with his Bachelor’s in aerospace engineering from Virginia Tech and later graduated from George Mason School of Law. Mr. Hyra is a patent attorney with the Symbus Law Group.

On the issues:


Northam: To build a strong economy the Commonwealth must fight for equal pay, balance our budget, supply paid family leave, reduce childcare costs, bring good jobs to rural Virginia, increase job opportunities for veterans, and cut college costs.

Gillespie: Mr. Gillespie plans to cut individual tax rates by 10%, increase jobs in the private sector in 5 years, grow the outdoor economy, increase access to broadband, and modernize the tax code.

Hyra : Small businesses and entrepreneurs can thrive in Virginia if we remove unnecessary business taxes, end state occupational licensing requirements (for occupations such as nail technicians and cosmetologists), privatizing the ABC, reduce or repeal requirements for food sales in places that serve liquor, change food truck and home food business regulations, and avoid state-wide increases to the minimum wage. Hyra would also like to exempt the first $60,000 of household income from state tax and $30k for individuals, then tax anything above that at 5.75%


Northam: Northam believes everyone should have access to early childhood education, he would like to increase teacher’s pay and professional development, and ensure that teachers have a seat at the table. He proposes revising the SOLs, investing in STEAM and expanding computer science, expanding access to apprenticeships and training to ensure all of our students get jobs after school. In addition, Northam proposes cutting college costs for Virginia’s public colleges and universities.

Gillespie: Gillespie would like to become the “most friendly state in the nation for special needs students”, create public charter schools, improve teacher’s pay and establish a Teachers Cabinet. Gillespie would like to “promote policies that are fair to homeschool students”. Mr. Gillespie also proposes ensuring that higher education is affordable through results-focused funding.

Hyra: Hyra would like to expand Virginia’s charter school program, modeling it like New York’s. He would repeal the SOLs and SOQs with growth measure testing, start a program to improve energy efficiency in schools that are in disrepair, and expand career and technical schools to welcome more students.


Northam: Dr. Northam would like to expand access to quality healthcare for veterans, he believes women’s healthcare decisions should be private between herself and her doctor, expand access to long acting reversible contraceptives, protecting a woman’s right to safe and legal abortion. Dr. Northam wants to establish guidelines for dealing with sports related concussions in Virginia schools, and protecting public health from climate related issues like air pollution.

Gillespie: Gillespie plans to build population health, increase price transparency, permit insurance across state lines, reforming the Certificate for Public Need, expand residency programs in Virginia, and help seniors to age-in-health.

Hyra: Hyra proposes creating an innovative healthcare system looking to Texas for their model to efficiency and using “best-practices from other states”. He would repeal the Certificate of Public Need regulatons, increase price transparency to create a market-based healthcare system, expand legal care-giving roles by removing requirement of direct supervision of a physician in medically under-served areas, allow insurance to be purchased across state lines to increase competition, and consider allowing medical care out of country where cost is lower.

Gun Laws

Northam: Northam would like to completely close the Gun Show Loophole and reinstate the One Handgun/Month limit. He believes that increasing access to mental healthcare will help with gun problems and believes that expanding Medicaid would help significantly. He believes in universal background checks, banning assault weapons, and only having smaller clips.

Gillespie: No information was available on Mr. Gillespie’s “issues” webpage for his stance on gun laws.

Hyra: Hyra believes in protecting the 2nd amendment from restrictions. He does not believe in magazine capacity limitations, or the one gun per month rules. He does however, believe that firearms should be “kept out of the hands of criminals and the severely mentally ill.”


Lieutenant Governor

Justin Fairfax (D): Former assistant US attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. He graduated from Duke University with his Bachelor’s and his J.D. from Columbia Law School.

Jill Vogel (R): Vogel is a managing partner at the law firm Holtzman Vogel Josefiak Torchinsky PLLC, and has been a Virginia Senator for 9 years. She received her Bachelor’s from William and Mary and her J.D. from DePaul University School of Law.

Attorney General

Mark Herring (D): Herring is the current Attorney General, he received a B.A. in foreign affairs and economics from the University of Virginia, his M.A. in foreign affairs from the University of Virginia, and his J.D. from the University of Richmond.

John Adams (R): Adams received his Bachelor’s in economics from Virginia Military Institute, and a J.D. from the University of Virginia. He is a private practice attorney.


These are just the offices that every Virginian will see on their ballot. In addition districts will be voting on their representative for the House of Delegates. To find out exactly what you will see on your ballot, please head over to the Virginia Department of Elections website and enter your registered voting address to see just exactly what to expect.

Voting Day Information

Date: November 7th, 2017

Polls Open: 6:00am EST

Polls Close: 7:00pm EST (if you are IN LINE by 7pm you CANNOT be turned away)

What to Bring: Photo ID or voter registration card



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