In an off year, voter turnout mixed in region

By Alex Bridges

Polling places across the region saw mixed voter turnout in Tuesday’s gubernatorial election.

Approximately 41 percent of the 23,953 voters registered in Warren County cast ballots on Election Day, said General Registrar Carol Tobin.

“That’s a pretty good turnout in a gubernatorial election,” Tobin said.

The percentages did not include provisional and absentee ballots, Tobin noted. While the electoral board has time to examine and count provisional ballots, Tobin said she doesn’t expect those to have much of an affect on the overall turnout rate.

By comparison, 36.8 percent of the 22,866 registered in 2009 cast ballots in the gubernatorial election, according to information from Tobin.

Shenandoah County had a higher voter turnout, General Registrar Lisa McDonald said. Unofficial results showed that 11,675 of 26,659 registered voters, or almost 44 percent, cast ballots on Tuesday, McDonald said. McDonald explained that she would not have exact figures on the number of voters who went to the polls until the electoral board canvasses all the ballots.

Tuesday’s turnout marked a decline in voter participation in Shenandoah County compared to the last gubernatorial election. Approximately 47.5 percent of the registered voters cast ballots in the 2009 election.

Regardless of the turnout figures, polling places in Shenandoah and Warren counties appeared steady as voters flowed in and out.

“Most of our officers said it was a steady day,” Tobin said.

Registrars reported smooth election days.

“We try to make it as easy as possible,” Tobin said. “We hope we have a good turnout every election so we always encourage people to go vote.”

“I think everything went smoothly,” McDonald said. “Didn’t have any reported problems.”

Tobin noted that her office remained prepared in case a situation arose during the elections.

“You always have a Plan B just in case,” Tobin said. “We didn’t have any major issues that have been reported to me.”

Electoral boards in jurisdictions across the commonwealth set to work Wednesday to canvass all ballots cast in the election. However, as Tobin and McDonald pointed out, the boards’ work could continue through Friday. Anyone who voted by provisional ballot at the polls has until noon Friday to show officials at their registrar’s office identification to prove registration so the electoral board can count their vote.

News reports in the weeks leading up to elections indicated some fear that laws in effect in several states could keep some groups of people from voting. Tobin said she had not heard any reports of voters turned away at the polls in Warren County. If such a situation had arisen at the polls, Tobin said, an officer of elections would call and confer with someone in the registrar’s office. Poll workers also have access to documents and information that can help them determine whether a person can vote.

Virginia voters do have the option to vote by provisional ballot, Tobin explained.

“There’s ways to research things for us and we can determine whether they should have been eligible,” Tobin said.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com