Showdown in Virginia: GOP uses ranked-choice voting to pick gubernatorial candidate

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Republicans in Virginia are expected to rally across the Commonwealth on Saturday to choose their gubernatorial candidate in the November general election, in a race where most of the top contenders have touted their support for former President Donald Trump.

Unlike their Democratic counterparts, who hold a traditional governor’s primary in June, the Virginia GOP holds what is called a “disassembled convention” at nearly 40 sites across the state. Delegates, who have been approved by local Republican committees, will vote for the party’s gubernatorial candidate, as well as pick their choices for the lieutenant governor and attorney general.

How the ‘disassembled convention’ works

The approximately 54,000 delegates will drive their cars around state locations, receive a ballot, fill it out, and then place it in a ballot box before leaving. The setup is due to Virginia coronavirus restrictions, which prevent an “assembled” convention from being held in person in an arena or other high-capacity facility. Voting takes place from 9 a.m. ET to 4 p.m. ET.

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The state party made its decision in March to hold the “dismantled convention” after sharp differences of opinion on whether to conduct a primary or a convention.

The Virginia Republican Party points to its large number of delegates as an indicator of the enthusiasm of the GOP. Although the number of delegates taking part in the vote is more predicted, it is still a far cry from the more than 350,000 people who voted in the state’s Republican primary in 2017 for the governorship.

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Ranked choice voting

Delegates will receive a ranked ballot.

“Instead of voting for a single candidate in multiple rounds of voting, we will use a priority voting method in which you provide a single vote for each candidate in order from your first choice to last,” explained the Virginia GOP in a video he tweeted on Wednesday.

Who are the candidates?

There are seven candidates for nomination for the post of Governor of the GOP. They are businessman and former CEO of private equity, Glenn Youngkin; former candidate for lieutenant governor, businessman and entrepreneur Pete Snyder; State Senator Amanda Chase, who describes herself as “Trump in heels”; State Del. Kirk Cox, former president of the State House; former think tank leader Peter Doran; Retired Army Colonel Sergio de la Peña and former Roanoke City Sheriff Octavia Johnson.

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Polls and experts consider Youngkin, Snyder, Cox and Chase among the top candidates.

Virginia, once a red state that has turned purple, has in recent years become increasingly blue. No Republican has won a statewide election in a dozen years, and Trump lost the state by 10 points in November to current President Biden.

The former president refused to endorse the nomination battle.

When will a winner be declared?

Not this weekend.

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The counting of classified ballots does not begin until Sunday. The manual count will take place at a hotel in downtown Richmond, with a representative from each campaign in attendance. The Virginia GOP says it expects the results to be announced as early as Tuesday and as late as Thursday.

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