Election Day is here, and Restonians are headed out to the polls in big numbers so far today.
Polling place volunteers at both the North County Government Center and South Lakes High School said lines were long as voters came out in droves at 6 a.m., when the polls opened.
“I’d say we had between 200 and 400 voters just between 6 and 6:30 a.m., as people tried to get their vote in before heading to work,” a South Lakes High volunteer said. “People were in line for at least 30 minutes at that time.”
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The lines decreased significantly by 8 a.m., and most voters have made it in and out quickly since then, volunteers said.
By 11 a.m., all Fairfax County precincts had served between 30-40 percent of their registered voters, not including the large numbers of voters who already voted via absentee or early voting, election officials said in an email.
Paul Prados, a member of the Fairfax Republicans committee and chairman of the 11th Congressional District committee, which includes Reston, said the attitudes of volunteers and voters was overwhelmingly positive.
“Quite frankly, I think it’s all due to the volunteers’ good attitudes, on all sides and about all issues,” Prados said as he handed out sample ballots at South Lakes High this morning. “Because of that, all voters are responding favorably, even to messages they might not normally be receptive to.”
As one of the larger polling places in Reston, South Lakes High had locals outside advocating on both sides of Virginia’s right-to-work ballot measure, which would amend the commonwealth’s constitution to prohibit employers from forcing workers to join unions.
Prados said union advocates came out to urge voters to vote against the amendment, while members of the Fairfax Republicans committee urged people to pass it, even though he said the language used to explain the amendment was a confusing “monstrosity.”
“Virginia has always been a right-to-work state,” Prados said. “That right shouldn’t be chipped away.”
Another ballot measure that has drawn advocates out is the Fairfax County Meals Tax, which proposes raising taxes on prepared and restaurant meals by 4 percent to a total of 10 percent.
A handful of write-in Republican candidates looking to succeed Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) had signs and volunteers campaigning in their favor at local precincts, too. Connolly is running unopposed on the ballot.
Barbara Banks, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, who now works mostly as a private pilot, is one write-in candidate hoping to beat Connolly in the election.
Another write-in candidate is Chris Grose of Burke, who has been pounding the pavement since at least July, Prados said. Grose is an Army combat veteran who fought in Iraq and currently serves on the board of both the Fairfax Home School Athletic Association and the Northern Virginia Players.
Many voters said they felt relieved as they left the polls in Reston after voting.
One woman who voted at the North County Government Center, was especially excited and said the day was “momentous” for her in a number of ways.
“I was a member of the first high school graduating class that was allowed to vote at age 18,” she said of her hometown in Indiana.
She said today felt just as momentous as she cast her vote for the first female nominee of a major U.S. political party, Hillary Clinton.