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Staying power of Virginia's 'blue wave' at stake on Nov. 3

FILE- In this Sept. 18, 2020, file photo, Steven Daftarian of Fairfax, Va., and his daughter Laleh, 6, wait in a line stretching the equivalent of two football fields as hundreds line up for early voting at Fairfax County Government Center, in Fairfax, Va. Virginia voters this year will determine the staying power of a “blue wave” that flipped two competitive congressional districts two years ago, while also casting ballots for a U.S. Senate seat and the presidency. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia voters will determine the staying power of a “blue wave” that flipped two competitive congressional districts two years ago, while also casting ballots for a U.S. Senate seat and the presidency.

As in other states, voters were deciding between Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic former Vice President Joe Biden. Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Warner is running for reelection against little-known Republican challenger Daniel Gade.

Virginia’s election features three competitive House races, including two seats that were flipped from red to blue in 2018.

Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Voters are required to show photo IDs, and anyone not already registered will not be able to cast a ballot. Virginia doesn’t allow same-day registration.

A guide to Election Day:

THE STAKES

Once a key swing state, Virginia has been trending blue for years thanks to the growth of its more diverse and liberal suburban and urban areas. Trump’s unpopularity has helped accelerate Democratic gains.

Neither Trump nor Biden spent much time campaigning in Virginia.

The Senate race garnered little attention compared to other states where much closer races could decide the balance of power in the upper chamber.

TOP HOUSE RACES

U.S. Reps. Abigail Spanberger and Elaine Luria are defending seats they flipped from red to blue two years ago when they won Trump-friendly districts and helped Democrats take control of the U.S. House.

Spanberger and Luria are part of a group of moderate Democrats who came to Congress with deep military and intelligence experience. Their credentials were instrumental in pushing the House to impeach Trump over allegations that he pressured Ukraine to investigate Biden.

Luria is a former U.S. Navy commander running against Republican Scott Taylor. Taylor is a former Navy SEAL who represented the 2nd Congressional District for one term before Luria defeated him in 2018.

The district spans the state’s Atlantic coast and includes Virginia Beach as well as the world’s largest Navy base, in Norfolk.

Spanberger, a former CIA operations officer, is defending her seat in the 7th Congressional District against Republican challenger Nick Freitas. Freitas is a delegate in Virginia’s House and a former U.S. Army Green Beret.

The closest race, though, may well be in the 5th District, a sprawling parcel the size of New Jersey that stretches from a tiny swath of the outer suburbs in northern Virginia through Charlottesville, all the way down to southside Virginia and the North Carolina border. The seat is open after one-term Republican Rep. Denver Riggleman lost a nominating convention to cultural conservative Bob Good, a former athletics official at Liberty University.

The libertarian-leaning Riggleman angered the GOP base in his district by officiating a same-sex wedding. While the district leans Republican, Democrat Cameron Webb, an African American physician and political newcomer, has run a strong campaign.

REDISTRICTING BALLOT INITIATIVE

Voters will also decide a referendum that puts next year’s redistricting in Virginia in the hands of a bipartisan commission.

If successful, the commission of citizens and legislators will redraw the state’s congressional and General Assembly districts to conform with the 2020 Census.

The amendment would turn over the task of drawing state and congressional maps, beginning with the 2021 redistricting, to a 16-member panel of eight legislators and eight citizens, evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. The eight citizens would be chosen by judges from a list prepared by legislators.

Some Democrats have tried to defeat the measure, arguing that the changes would keep politicians too involved in the process. Republicans have said that Democrats just want to ensure that they control the process now that they are in power.

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Find AP’s full election coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/election-2020.