(Updated at 3:20 p.m.) Voting is in full swing around Arlington for the midterm elections, and election officials are reporting plenty of lines and enthusiasm at polling places around the county.
As of noon, the county’s election office reported seeing 40 percent of its just over 149,000 registered voters cast ballots. That figure includes only in-person voting today, according to general registrar Linda Lindberg.
In general, Lindberg says that number is a bit higher than the county would expect for a non-presidential year. For comparison, Arlington recorded about 31 percent turnout by the middle of the day a year ago, according to the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project.
“We usually have a burst in the morning, and the difference has been that burst was a bit longer this year,” Lindberg told ARLnow. “We definitely have a sense we’re getting people at the polls who don’t vote regularly. We always have that issue for presidential elections, but not usually for the midterms.”
Lindberg added that turnout may well be even stronger, but there are plenty of absentee ballots for her staffers to count as well.
So, 2018’s absentee in person numbers (12555) exceeded 2017’s TOTAL number of 12245, the previous record for non-prez year. Over 7000 more ballots returned with 2800 still outstanding.
— Arlington Elections (@ArlingtonVotes) November 3, 2018
The Virginia Square polling place, located on George Mason University’s campus, certainly saw robust turnout this morning. Aimee Bosse, the precinct’s elections chief, told ARLnow that the polling place saw a rush of about 50 to 100 people as soon as polls opened this morning, with a line wrapping around the lobby and running out the door.
“This has been really busy,” Bosse said. She’s expecting another afternoon rush around 3:30 p.m. or so.
One voter at the polling place, Alexei Monsarrat, said that the whole operation was “perfectly well organized,” despite the high interest.
He added that he voted for Democrats up and down the ballot and is hoping that the party regains control of both the House and Senate to rebuke President Donald Trump. Monsarrat even brought along his 8-year-old son, Asher, to let him see the process.
“Obviously I’m very excited to vote today,” Monsarrat said. “I’m looking for a change… I’m a straight democratic voter.”
Aaron Webb, elections chief at the Rosslyn Gateway polling place (1911 Fort Myer Drive), added that his location has seen lines up to 30 minutes long so far today.
Others also reported unusually long lines at precincts elsewhere around the county on Twitter.
Despite a rainstorm all morning – we’ve had RECORD turnout at Fillmore Precinct in Arlington – over 900 voters by 10:15 am. Wonderful seeing so many friends and neighbors. Great team of Democrats supporting our ticket!!#FiredUpReadytoGo #BlueWave #GettingSoakedforaGreatCause pic.twitter.com/SQRQjEkAo1
— Alfonso Lopez (@Lopez4VA) November 6, 2018
Lindberg says there haven’t been any major issues at polling places, outside of some puddles making it a bit hard to reach the polls. But as the rain subsides, and maintenance workers get a chance to mop up, she’s not predicting any major issues.
In fact, Lindberg says she’s heard the more concerning reports today about the behavior of voters themselves. She notes that her office has received some complaints about voters being “less than friendly” to some members of the foreign press covering Arlington’s elections, particularly those from Middle Eastern countries.
“They’re just trying to do their jobs and report, so it’s unfortunate to hear,” Lindberg said.
Races on the ballot for Arlington voters this year include the U.S. Senate contest between Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Republican Corey Stewart and the 8th District Congressional seat pitting Democratic Rep. Don Beyer against Republican Thomas Oh. In local races, voters will choose between incumbent independent John Vihstadt and Democrat Matt de Ferranti for County Board and independent Audrey Clement and incumbent Barbara Kanninen, who was endorsed by county Democrats, for School Board.
A variety of bond measures and two constitutional questions will also be on the ballot. The county website features full sample ballots, and details on where to vote.
Catherine Douglas Moran contributed reporting