Thousands of residents scurried around Warren and Shenandoah counties on Tuesday, dropping by polls on their way to work, taking extended lunch breaks to cast their votes or standing in line into the night.
All-in-all, voters had few obstacles to overcome as they exercised their right to vote and made their voices heard, echoing from their backyards to Richmond.
In Warren County, the registrar is still hard at work sorting through one race that had no official candidates but consisted of four write-in campaign candidates.
As of Thursday, the race for the South River District seat on the Warren County School Board, in which Kristen Pence and David Downes, both of Front Royal, were vying for, was still not decided. The race was determined by write-in votes.
The Warren County Registrar’s office has not been able to announce a winner due to the many votes that needed to be counted.
The unofficial total number of votes recorded in the South River District was 1,166. There was no timeline given on when a winner would be announced.
Lisa McDonald, the director of elections and general registrar for Shenandoah County, said more voters than she initially expected turned out in the off-year contest but the county was well prepared to handle the rush.
“It was very busy,” McDonald said. “We had long lines at 6 p.m. at pretty much all the precincts.”
While polls closed at 7 p.m., voters who were in line to vote before then weren’t turned away as long as they remained in line until they cast their ballot.
Invariably, some problems arose and McDonald along with her staff made sure to quell issues as they cropped up.
The most trying event was at Central when voting machines stopped reading ballots, McDonald said. She said she wasn’t sure what happened and the technology staffers were tied up at the time so they couldn’t fix the problem right away.
Voters could still cast their ballots, McDonald said, but instead of feeding their ballots into the machine, the emergency contingency plan called for sequestering the ballots in an emergency ballot box that was locked and guarded until the end of the day.
After polls closed, McDonald said all of the ballots in the emergency box were hand-counted by the precinct chief as representatives from both the Republican and Democratic parties watched.
McDonald said she didn’t have final figures on how many people voted on Tuesday but said there were 28,935 registered voters in the county on Election Day.
The race that received the most votes was the contest for the Soil and Water Conservation director for the Lord Fairfax District, giving a high-end figure for the number of voters around 13,824.
McDonald said undervoting – voters skipping over races or initiatives on the ballot – is common so that figure doesn’t accurately represent the total number of voters who turned out on Tuesday.
Write-in and absentee votes are counted the same as all of the other ballots, McDonald said.
She told the Northern Virginia Daily she heard some people saying that absentee ballots don’t count toward final totals but wanted readers to know that’s not the case.
“We have election officials who come in here and count just like they do at the polls,” McDonald said. “Those votes do count and those votes are included in those totals.”
While registrars and Virginia’s Department of Elections have called races and no races in either Shenandoah or Warren County appear to be overturned, all of the results as of Thursday evening are still unofficial, McDonald said.
McDonald’s office will finish canvassing votes today and voters will be able to find official results online.