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Light Turnout So Far for County Board Primary

It’s an election that could set the direction of Arlington County policy for years to come — and so far turnout is light.

Voters are heading to the polls today to select two Democratic nominees in the race for County Board. There are six Democratic candidates seeking their party’s nomination: Andrew SchneiderBruce Wiljanen, Katie Cristol, James Lander, Peter Fallon, and Christian Dorsey.

While it’s a rare opportunity to fill the open seats of two retiring County Board members — Mary Hynes and Walter Tejada — the turnout has been about as low as is usually expected for a local primary.

“Overall it’s been pretty slow so far,” county General Registrar Linda Lindberg told ARLnow.com. She said turnout has been especially sluggish along the county’s Metro corridors and along Columbia Pike.

Two areas of slightly higher turnout, according to Lindberg, have been:

Lindberg said there have been no reported problems with the county’s new paper ballot system, instituted after security issues were raised about electronic voting machines in Virginia.

“The voting has gone just fine, I’ve had no issues or complaints about the paper ballots,” she said. Asked about the potential for an evening rush of voters, Lindberg said delays at the polls are unlikely.

“There might be a slight surge around 5:00 or 6:00, but generally speaking I wouldn’t expect any lines.”

Polls close at 7:00 p.m.

The few people to be found outside the Arlington Forest and Randolph Elementary precincts this morning said they were aware of the potential importance of the race. Tonight’s two primary winners will face independent candidates Audrey Clement and Michael McMenamin in the November general election.

“Especially with these two open seats, people they elect now are going to be there for a while,” said Brandon Forester, who was supporting Dorsey outside of Randolph Elementary. “It will set tone for years to come.”

“I think this is the most important election in Arlington County for decades,” said Michael Thomas, an Arlington Forest resident.

Cori Rattleman, another Arlington Forest resident, said her top issues in this election were schools, parks and affordable housing. She said she was confident that the primary winners will go on to win in November.

“In this case, this is the election,” she said. “Whoever wins the elections, this is pretty much it.”

Heather Mongilio contributed to this report

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