Under a cloudless, azure sky and spring-like temperatures, Arlington voters headed to the polls today in what is expected to be a record turnout.
More than 60,000 county residents are predicted to vote, said Arlington Treasurer Frank O’Leary, which would be an all-time high. This would represent a turnout of 53 percent of active registered voters.
In 2001, the last gubernatorial election, 49 percent of registered voters cast ballots and turnout was 73 percent last year.
As of Monday night 2,908 people had cast domestic absentee ballots, with an additional 297 arriving from overseas, setting a record for gubernatorial elections in the state, O’Leary said.
Polls were full of voters Tuesday morning, as candidates handed out literature and chatted with residents in front of polling stations.
“By 6:30 this morning 100 people had already voted at my Virginia Highlands precinct,” said school board candidate Bill Barker, as he stumped for votes outside Tuckahoe Elementary School. “That’s pretty good for so early.”
Julie Fiddick, precinct chief at Woodlawn, said her polling station was much busier than expected. She believes this was due to the closeness of the governor's race, which is a statistical tie in every statewide poll.
“There’s been a steady turnout all morning long,” said Jim Wilson, assistant chief election officer for the Ballston precinct. “We’re pleased thus far.”
Whether or not Democrats can bring their supporters to the polls in full force on Nov. 8 may well decide the governor’s race between Timothy M. Kaine (D) and Jerry W. Kilgore (R). Independent candidate H. Russ Potts Jr. (I) is polling below 5 percent.
“This election will come down to who can get the base out in bigger numbers and therefore Arlington is very important to Kaine,” said Mark Rozell, political science professor at George Mason University.
County Board Chairman Jay Fisette, Del. Al Eisenberg (D-47), Del. Bob Brink (D-48), and Del. Adam Ebbin (D-49) are all running unopposed.
David Englin (D) and Chris Gregerson (R), are competing for a seat in the House of Delegates, representing the 45th District. Baker, who is endorsed by the Republican party, Independent Cecelia Espenoza and Ed Fendley, endorsed by the Arlington County Democratic Committee, are running to replace Elaine Furlow on the school board.
The Arlington Connection went to press Tuesday afternoon, before polls closed. For updated information check the Web site www.connectionnewspapers.com for full election coverage.
-By Seth Rosen