Democrat Ralph Northam clenched victory over Republican Ed Gillespie in the competitive race to become Virginia’s 73rd governor Tuesday — statewide results that echoed locally in a bellwether race watched around the nation as judgment on President Donald Trump.
Democrats swept statewide offices, including the lieutenant governor and attorney general. In the Hunter Mill District, Northam won in every precinct with 61 percent of all votes – slightly below the countywide average of 67 percent and above the statewide return of 54 percent. Northam took 30,201 of the 49,788 ballots cast while Gillespie grasped 45 percent of the vote. The tightest race was in the Colvin Precinct where Northam won by a 59 percent to 40 percent margin over Gillespie, who took 54 percent of the total vote statewide.
Democrat Justin Fairfax won over Republican state Sen. Jill Vogel in the race for lieutenant governor while Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring was reelected over Republican John Adams.
Overall, voters took to the polls in greater numbers this year. Turnout in the Hunter Mill District was just under 50 percent, roughly six percentage points below the statewide voter turnout of 56 percent.
The Flint Hill precinct reported the highest turnout at nearly 66 percent. The lowest turnout was reported at the McNair precinct where turnout rested at a mum 45 percent compared to the district-wide average of 60 percent.
Voters also passed a measure that would approve the sale of $315 million in bonds to fund school improvement projects throughout the county. The measure passed with 73 percent of the total vote. Locally, the funds would allow the county to move forward on renovations to one modular buildings; additions to three county high schools; renovations to 10 elementary schools, three middle schools, two high schools; and the construction of two new elementary schools.
Democrat Ken Plum, Reston’s current delegate, will also continue serving as the local delegate for the 36th district. Plum, who worked for roughly 20 years as a public school teacher an administrator prior to his role in politics, ran in an uncontested race.
Photo by Fatimah Waseem.
Despite the downpour of rain on Tuesday, a steady stream of voters cast their votes at Armstrong Elementary School in Reston. As of 2 p.m. on Tuesday, 209,223 residents of Fairfax County voted in Virginia’s election.
The state is only of of two in the United States with statewide elections this year. Republican Ed Gillespie and Democrat Ralph Northam are vying for governor in what is expected to be a narrow contest, according to The New York Times. Libertarian Cliff Hyra is also running.
In the last election in 2013, turnout rested at 46.8 percent. With a little more than four hours before polls close, turnout this year sits at 30.6 percent, according to the county.
A record number of absentee ballots were cast this year, according to Fairfax County officials. More than 41,000 Virginians participated in early voting, up by roughly 61 percent from voting in 2013. Absentee voting was up in every jurisdictions in Virginia, except three, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, a non-profit organization that provides information about local politics.
There are more than 684,041 active registered voters in Fairfax County. Throughout the day, voters trickled in at various polling sites throughout Reston and Fairfax County. By 10 a.m., nearly 16 percent or roughly 109,000 of registered voters already casted their ballot.
All 100 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates are up for election. Fifty-five of those seats are contested.
Reston’s current Delegate, Democrat Ken Plum, is running without opposition in this election. Plum is currently serving his 36th year as the local Delegate for the 36th District, which includes Reston. Prior to his political appointment, he served for roughly 20 years as a public school teacher and administrator. Plum recently commented on his unopposed race for re-election in his weekly commentary.
Two candidates, Republican Jill Vogel and Justin Fairfax are running to replace Ralph Northam as Virginia’s lieutenant governor, a role which often presides over the State Senate, and has the power to break tie votes. The race for attorney general is between the current attorney general, Democrat Mark Herring, and his opponent, Republican John Adams.
The Board of Supervisors has asked residents to approve the sale of $315 million in bonds. If approved, the county has published a list of school improvement projects they would use the money to pay for.
The American Civil Liberties Union received multiple reports from Virginia voters who said that they received calls falsely saying their polling place had changed. The civil liberties organization advised voters to confirm polling locations at elections.virginia.gov and report any issues by calling the organization at 804-644-8080.
Photo by Fatimah Waseem
The RA says it released information on whether or not each of its 25,700 member households voted in the 2014 Board of Directors election. It also released members’ addresses, but omitted the substance of members’ votes and any other personal information.
The voter records were provided to RA member Irwin Flashman, a six-year resident, on Sept. 29. The RA says it was obligated to release the information under its bylaws and Virginia law.
Flashman said Monday that he wanted the records so he could analyze and try to boost the number of locals who cast their ballots.
“I want to increase voter turnout,” he said. “Something has to be done, and I think before you start doing anything, you need to know what happened.”
RA President Ken Knueven said the Association’s bylaws and Virginia law on property owners’ associations required the disclosure of the information.
“Under our bylaws and Virginia law, anything on record has to be provided,” Knueven said, adding that he wants Reston residents to know what was released and be comfortable with it.
“I believe voter records are confidential and should remain such,” he said. “We released only information we felt was not confidential.”
Flashman, who received a paper copy of the data, additionally requested an electronic version. The RA is reviewing that request and will discuss it at its full Board meeting Nov. 20.
Reston residents should want to know more about who votes, Flashman said.
“In a democracy, things are done out in the open,” he said. “The fact of voting should be an honor, not something you hide.”
Karen Goff contributed reporting.
The new machines will offer ease of use as well as accessibility for people with disabilities and for voters for whom English is not their primary language, said electoral board secretary Brian Schoeneman.
Want to go for a test drive? Here are two nearby opportunities on Friday Feb. 21:
- Tysons Corner Center Mall, 2 to 4 p.m., Third floor food court
- Reston Community Center Hunters Woods, 6:45 to 8:30 p.m., lobby.
No advance notice or reservations are necessary.
“We have some critical decisions to make this year on purchasing new voting machines for our citizens,” Schoeneman says. “This is a rare opportunity to provide voters with a chance to test drive different voting machines and give input on what voting equipment will provide them with the best and most secure voting experience.”
After long waits in the 2012 Presidential Election, the county assembled a bipartisan Election Process Improvement Commission. The commission issued its report last March, finding fault with aging Direct Electronic Recording Devices (DRE) machines.
The commission recommended that the county go to one system throughout the county, preferably one with electronically scanned ballots with an integrated system fully accessible to voters with disabilities.