Steady stream of voters head to Northern Virginia polls

RICHMOND – Polling places across Virginia saw steady — but far from overwhelming — voter turnout Tuesday morning, typical for an off-year election day but nevertheless a jarring come-down from last year's surge in voting.

Republicans were showing up alongside Democrats at Northern Virginia precincts, which augers poorly for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds. Deeds needs a big advantage in the heavily Democratic Washington suburbs to pull off what would be an upset victory over Republican nominee Bob McDonnell.

“I was surprised this year that the Republicans fielded a candidate who appealed to Northern Virginia and locked up the rural parts of the state,” said Paul Griffin, who voted a straight GOP ticket, at Island Creek Elementary School in Alexandria. “The Democrats didn't lock up Northern Virginia well. McDonnell had a more positive message.”

Also at the school was Kathleen James, an independent, who cast her ballot for all Democratic candidates.

“Right now, I'm more philosophically aligned with the Democrats,” she said. “With the election of Obama last year, I'd like to see the Democratic movement continue.”

Obama swept to victory in Virginia last year by a swell of voters — many of them young or African American — becoming the first Democratic presidential candidate to take the state in four decades.

Recent college graduate Madeline Manion, after voting for Deeds outside of George Washington Carver Elementary in Richmond, said she closely followed the 2008 presidential race. This year's election failed to spark the same interest for her.

“I don't know too much about it, honestly,” Manion said.

At Lane Elementary School near Kingstown, a continuous stream of voters meandered into the polling place, though the wait was rarely longer than a few minutes.

Charles Chambers voted for Deeds, though he acknowledged the candidate could have done a better job getting the word out about his years of work in state government.

“He's got the combination of knowledge and experience and I think he has a good sense of the whole state,” Chambers said.

For Carol Martin, a McDonnell voter, there was never any doubt.

“I'm against anybody that's for abortion,” she said. “He's for the people. He's for keeping taxes, improving the transportation. He's a family man and he stands for honesty and integrity.”

At Alexandria's Beth El Hebrew Congregation, Democrats appeared especially motivated by the attorney general's race, in which Republican candidate Ken Cuccinelli, a socially conservative state legislator, is favored to win.

“I think in the AG's race, if a Republican's elected, we're going to be looking at the 1950s,” said Chuck Schwidde.

At Greenspring retirement community in Springfield, turnout was low.

County poll watcher Sue Hotto said that about 39-40 percent of the precinct's voters had turned out. The gated neighborhoods usually leads the county for voter turnout, Hotto said. “Usually, after breakfast, there's so many people in the hall you can't move,” Hotto said. Keith Fimian, who will challenge U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., next year, was on hand. He had been to several Fairfax polling stations and said turnout had been low. “It's not out of character,” he said. “But you wish more people would turn out.” Sim Taylor, a retiree at Greenspring, said turnout had picked up around 10 a.m. and had been “steady” ever since. John Balog, a retired Department of Agriculture worker, was manning a station for the Democrats. It was his first time as an election volunteer. Balog acknowledged that turnout was low. “Maybe it's how they feel about the candidates,” he said.

 

Examiner Staff Writers Michael Neibauer, Freeman Klopott, David Sherfinski and Bill Myers contributed to this report.

wflook@washingtonexaminer.com

LocalnewsPoliticsUS

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

San Francisco leaders argue that plans to develop housing in the region’s transit-heavy urban areas are at odds with goals to increase equity for people of color.
SF officials fear regional housing strategy could increase displacement of people of color

Equity and climate goals at odds in plan that concentrates development in transit-rich urban areas

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority cut most of its bus service last year due to the pandemic, and has been slow to bring it back due to budget concerns and low ridership. (Samantha Laurey/ Special to S.F. Examiner)
Supes urge SFMTA to expedite restoration of Muni lines

Resolution emphasizes focus on seniors, individuals with disabilities and community routes

San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott listens at a rally to commemorate the life of George Floyd and others killed by police outside City Hall on Monday, June 1, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Will the Biden Administration help SF speed up police reform?

City has struggled to implement changes without federal oversight

Reports say that the number of American visitors to Mexico’s Quintana Roo, where Tulum and Cancun are located, increased by 23 percent between 2019 and 2020. (Shutterstock)
Stop going to Mexico

Travel during pandemic is ‘vacation colonialism’

Snow covering the mountains surrounding Lake Tahoe appeals to skiers and snowshoers. (Matt Johanson/Special to S.F. Examiner)
Winter Wisdom: 50 lessons in 50 years, Part 1

Series offers tips for adventurers seeking enjoyment in nature

Most Read