Counties report smooth elections

By Alex Bridges

FRONT ROYAL — Election Day went smoothly at the polls Warren and Shenandoah counties, according to voter registrar’s offices.

Voters in Front Royal cast ballots for mayor and Town Council seats as well as in national contests at polling places on Tuesday. Voters registered outside the town in Warren County and those in Shenandoah County cast ballots in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives races.

Electoral boards across the state began their work to canvass ballots cast Tuesday. The process can take days, even weeks.

This marked the first year that Front Royal held its local elections in November. This also was the first time the Virginia Department of Elections required voters to present photo IDs at the polls in order to cast a ballot.

Warren County Voter Registrar Carol Tobin said Wednesday she heard of no problems at polls.

“You have general things but there really aren’t any problems that they don’t usually resolve or call here and resolve,” Tobin said. “Of course, if there are ever any issues and they call in, we try to be right on top of anything.”

Elections also went smoothly in Shenandoah County, Voter Registrar Lisa McDonald said.

“The photo ID [requirement] didn’t seem to be very much of a problem,” McDonald said. “It seemed like the voters were prepared. Most voters were aware of the new law because we only had 11 that had to vote [by] provisional [ballot] due to lack of ID out of 11,000 some voters.

Tobin said she didn’t hear of any specific instances in which election workers had to turn someone away from the polls. Voters who could not provide a photo ID could cast a provisional ballot with the requirement that they produce such identification to the registrar’s office by noon Friday. Or registered voters could obtain a photo ID at the registrar’s office on Election Day.

Approximately 25 voters cast provisional ballots in the election, Tobin said. Electoral boards must determine if a voter who cast a provisional ballot is registered before it can count the vote. Electoral board members also spent time at the polls making sure voting went well, Tobin said.

The new rules did not appear to have affected turnout in Shenandoah County. Unofficial results in Shenandoah County showed that 11,118 registered voters cast ballots, or 41 percent of the total, turned out at the polls, according to McDonald. Turnout exceeded her estimate of the mid- to high 30s, she said. Turnout in the last midterm election four years ago was around 35 percent, McDonald noted.

In Warren County, 38 percent of registered voters cast ballots in the elections, according to data Tobin provided. Official numbers will be determined once ballots are canvassed.

Unofficial data for Frederick County showed that 22,045 of the 52,910 registered voters, or 41.67 percent, cast ballots, according to General Registrar Rick Miller.

Virginia Beach and Newport News reported problems with voting machines on Election Day. Warren County had no such problems. While the machines Warren County uses might “hibernate,” Tobin said the devices can be “woken up.” Tobin said none of the county’s voting machines — a different brand than those used in Virginia Beach and Newport News — have ever crashed.

Warren County’s registrar’s office also keeps spare voting machines in case one malfunctions.

“We have spares and we always try to keep as many as needed in the precincts and we have two technicians that are ready to go,” Tobin said.

Shenandoah County uses optical scanner voting machines in which ballots are inserted and read. Some of the machines are 17 years old. In a few cases, most of which occurred in the Fort Valley precinct, machines jammed as ballots were inserted, McDonald said.

“I think that was a little frustrating for the poll workers,” McDonald said.

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