As of 3:45 p.m., nearly 75 percent of active registered voters in Arlington have cast a ballot in today’s election, according to election officials.
Arlington County Registrar Linda Lindberg said most precincts are reporting about 50 percent turnout ahead of the evening rush, while another 25 percent or so voted absentee.
Few problems were reported at the polls, said Lindberg. The biggest issue, she said, was related to the pens used to fill out the paper ballots.
“Voters were walking off with our pens,” Lindberg said. “We’ve had to deliver more pens out to our polling places, that was our biggest problem this morning during the rush.”
Long lines were reported at many polling stations early this morning, though the lines gave way to a steady trickle of voters after 8-9 a.m., as most headed to work. The longest line reported to the county elections office was about one hour long — well below the two-hour-long lines reported during the 2012 presidential election.
That election saw 83 percent voter turnout and about 118,000 ballots cast, the latter of which was a record for Arlington County. Lindberg expects this year’s election to come close to both figures, perhaps exceeding the number of ballots cast since the county’s population has continued to grow.
“It’s hard to say,” Lindberg said. “We should at least come very close to that number if not exceed it.”
A shift to all paper ballots from the mix of paper ballots and voting machines in 2012 may have helped to keep lines down despite, potentially, more voters at the polls.
“I think it moved voters through faster because there were more polling stations,” said Lindberg.
Should there be a larger-than-expected rush of voters after work, roving election officials have more ballots on hand to deliver to polling stations and prevent them from running out.
Polls in Virginia close at 7 p.m., though anybody in line at that time will be allowed to vote. Early returns are expected to start posting around 7:30 tonight.
Photos by Samantha Moore