Highest Voter Turnout in N. Arlington — The Arlington neighborhoods north of I-66 had the highest concentration of voter turnout for Tuesday’s election. Arlington’s high-density Metro corridors and neighborhoods south of Columbia Pike generally had the lowest turnout. [Twitter]
Eric Cantor Buys House in Arlington — Former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has purchased a $1.8 million house near Pentagon City. Cantor, who works for an investment banking firm in D.C., formerly lived in the Representative condominium on Arlington Ridge, overlooking Pentagon City, while serving in Congress. [Washington Business Journal]
Sport & Health Closing in Crystal City — The Sport & Health Crystal Gateway club at 1235 S. Clark Street has told members that it will close Dec. 4, a tipster tells ARLnow.com. The health club is set to be replaced by a new Earth Treks Climbing Center.
Flickr pool photo by Michael Coffman
(Updated at 12:10 a.m.) There will be two new faces sitting on the County Board come January — Democrats Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey.
Dorsey led the race the entire night, taking approximately 36 percent of the total vote. Ticket mate Cristol followed closely, garnering about 34 percent of the votes. The two Democratic candidates effectively boxed out independent candidates Michael McMenamin and Audrey Clement.
Today’s election was a historic one for Arlington. For the first time in years, voters were asked to select two new County Board members after Board Chair Mary Hynes and Vice Chair Walter Tejada decided to retire. After electing independent John Vihstadt last year, Arlington residents resumed voting for Democrats by giving Cristol and Dorsey the two seats.
“Now it’s time to get to work fulfilling the promise of the campaign, which was bring Arlingtonians together to talk about issues,” Dorsey said.
Voter turnout was relatively low, following the trend of most off-year elections in Virginia. Arlington election officials estimate that around 27 percent of registered voters cast a ballot today, compared to 26 percent turnout in a comparable election four years ago.
The relatively low turnout is a sign that the county needs to do better with communicating how important local elections are, Cristol and Dorsey said.
“As much as I would love Arlington to be special and different, it’s tough when the County Board race is at the top of the ballot,” Dorsey said.
Cristol and Dorsey led the race for County Board with a large gap between them and the independent candidates. The unofficial results are:
- Audrey Clement: 10.08%
- Katie Cristol: 34.41%
- Christian Dorsey: 35.71%
- Mike McMenamin: 19.03%
A group of more than 40 people in yellow shirts has been knocking on the doors of homes in the Glebe and Arlington Mill voting districts the past few days in hopes of increasing voter turnout today.
The group is part of the Virginians for Organized Interfaith Community Engagement, an organization that supports social justice causes like affordable housing and that strives to increase the amount of people who actively engage in local politics.
As of 9 a.m. this morning, Nov. 3, VOICE members had talked to almost 600 people who pledged they would vote, said VOICE spokeswoman Marjorie Green. Arlington residents are voting for two new County Board members, making this an election that will set the direction of county policy for years to come.
“Even if only a third of those voters actually go to the polls, we figure we will have contributed to a more than 20 percent increase in voter turnout, a pretty significant figure in an election in which, as I just heard, the county registrar is saying turnout thus far is only about 15 percent,” Green said.
VOICE’s goal with its “Get Out the Vote” push is to engage with 2,000 people in the Glebe and Arlington Mill voting districts in hopes of raising voter turnout by 5 percent, the group said in a press release. The Glebe voting district includes the Nauck neighborhood, and the Arlington Mill district is made up of people in Columbia Pike and Arlington Mill areas.
VOICE is targeting the Glebe and Arlington Mill voting districts because people living there have historically skipped voting in off-year elections, like today’s, Green said. They have also raised concerns of their voices not being heard by county officials, said Rev. James E. Victor, Jr., the pastor at Mount Olive Baptist Church in Arlington View and a VOICE leader.
Residents in the Glebe voting district can vote at the Drew Recreation Center (3500 23th Street S.) and those in the Arlington Mill district can vote at Campbell Elementary School (737 S. Carlin Springs Road).
VOICE members stood at bus stops this morning encouraging people to stop by the two polling places and to cast their votes, Green said, adding that the organization will also be calling people throughout the day in hopes of getting more people to vote.
Despite one of the most consequential and competitive County Board races in recent memory, relatively light turnout has been reported at the polls in Arlington so far today.
Linda Lindberg, Arlington County’s top elections official, said turnout was around 12 percent as of 12:45 p.m.
“It’s been pretty light,” Lindberg told ARLnow.com “Some precincts are doing quite well and others are very, very slow.”
Lindberg said turnout is similar to the 2011 election, when 26 percent of registered voters went to the polls. She expects the final turnout today to be around that figure. The number of absentee ballots submitted this election cycle — 2,200 — is also comparable to 2011.
“I would have thought that we would have done a little better this time, because we do have a more competitive County Board race,” Lindberg said.
No major problems have been reported at the polls, which opened at 6 a.m. and will close at 7 p.m. Arlington County is using paper ballots this year, a throw back to the mid-20th century. Most recently, Arlington had been using electronic voting machines that were later revealed to have serious security flaws.
Some voters who required assistance using the ballot reading machines have complained that poll workers could see who they voted for while demonstrating how to use the machines.
“We’re going to iron out those issues,” Lindberg said.
The Arlington County elections office will be tweeting County Board election results live tonight after polls close, via its @arlingtonvotes Twitter account.
Registered voters who have not yet cast ballots can find out more information about the candidates via the League of Women Voters voter guide.
Voter turnout is only about 10-12% so far. Come on, Arlington – we can do better, so get out to vote! Polls close at 7 pm.
— Arlington Elections (@ArlingtonVotes) November 3, 2015
Group Offers Cheap Drinks to Encourage Voting — A nonprofit group will outside a half dozen Arlington polling stations on Tuesday, handing out wristbands good for cheap drinks at Clarendon bars, to “encourage young voters to celebrate democracy” and “draw more apathetic young voters out on Election Day.” [Washington Post]
Arlington Asking for Aquatics Center Feedback — Should Arlington County build the stalled Long Bridge Park aquatics and fitness center? If so, what kind of features should it include? That’s what the county is asking in a new online survey. Arlington originally launched a public input process for the planned aquatics facility in March. [InsideNova]
Airport to Cease Being a Homeless Haven — Starting today, Reagan National Airport will be kicking out the homeless who have used it as a makeshift shelter. Because it was clean, safe and open 24/7, dozens of local homeless individuals would pretend to be waylaid travelers and sleep in the airport’s terminals overnight. Increased use as a homeless sanctuary prompted airport officials to decide to no longer tolerate what will now be treated as trespassing. [Washington Post]
Fuel Spill at DCA — On Friday hazmat crews and the U.S. Coast Guard responded to a reported spill of 7,500-9,000 gallons of jet fuel on the south side of Reagan National Airport. The spill has been largely contained and is not a threat to drinking water, officials say. [WTOP]
Flickr pool photo by Vandiik
Woman Takes Stage to Find Bathroom — An apparently intoxicated woman climbed on stage during a recent Signature Theatre production in Shirlington, made her way backstage and asked a cast member for directions to the bathroom. [Playbill]
Spout Run Closure — The eastbound lanes of the Spout Run Parkway will be completely closed from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. today for road paving. No detours will be in place and “alternative routes should be used,” according to the National Park Service.
Arlington Murder to Be Featured on TV Show — This coming Sunday, at 10 p.m., the show “Deadline: Crime with Tamron Hall” on Investigation Discovery will feature the 2012 homicide of Mack L. Woods Sr. in Arlington. [Patch]
Charleys Now Open in Pentagon City — A Charleys Philly Steaks restaurant is now open in the food court of the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall food court. “Charleys brings a unique experience to the food court with its grilled-fresh-in-front-of-you flavor,” the company said in a press release.
Food Truck Stops Taking Cash — The Lemongrass food truck, which frequents Arlington, has decided to stop accepting cash. The truck now only takes credit and debit cards. [Washington Post]
Why Arlington Went to Paper Ballots — Arlington reintroduced paper ballots this year after dumping its electronic voting machines. Why did it get rid of the more modern tech? The WINVote system was found to be grossly insecure and the touchscreen devices were dubbed the “worst voting machines” in America. [Wired]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
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 Schneider, Bruce 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:
- The South Arlington precincts within the 45th House of Delegates district, which are voting for a Democratic nominee to replace Del. Rob Krupicka.
- The Marshall and Yorktown precincts in North Arlington, home to Fallon and Schneider, respectively.
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.
Heather Mongilio contributed to this report
Dems Debate in Ballston — The six Democratic candidates for County Board faced off in their first debate last night, before a standing-room only crowd at the NRECA conference center in Ballston. The debate was held by Arlington Young Democrats. Though knowledgable about current issues facing Arlington, candidates were light on specifics about what should be done to address those issues. [InsideNova]
Disruption Corp. Sold to 1776 — Disruption Corp., the Crystal City-based tech investment fund and office space, has been acquired by D.C.-based tech incubator 1776. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. [Washington Post]
Caps Pep Rally at Elementary School — Third grade students at Carlin Springs Elementary School have won a contest to bring a Washington Capitals playoff pep rally to their school today. The rally will start at 12:30 p.m. “There won’t likely be any players, but it will be a great time for all,” a teacher tells ARLnow.com. “The kids will be getting prizes, pictures with Slapshot (the Caps’ mascot) and learning some hockey skills. The Caps are also donating equipment to the school.” [Washington Capitals]
Artisphere ‘Doomed from the Start’ — Artisphere, which is on the budgetary chopping block next week, was “doomed from the start,” according to the artistic director of a theatre company that was booted out of its space at the cultural center two years after it opened. An anonymous Artisphere employee said of the early, over-optimistic attendance and revenue projections: “All of those numbers were so completely false.” [Washington Post]
McAuliffe Signs Special Needs Bill in Arlington — On Tuesday, Gov. Terry McAuliffe came to Arlington to sign the ABLE Act, which will allow individuals with special needs, and their families, to set up tax-exempt accounts that will allow them to save for future living expenses. Virginia is the first state to enact such legislation, which received the blessing of the U.S. Congress in December. [WJLA]
Security of Va. Voting Machines Blasted — The touch screen voting machines now being replaced in Arlington and elsewhere in Virginia were “so easy to hack, it will take your breath away,” according to reports. [Ars Technica, The Guardian]
Flickr pool photo by Alan Kotok
The paper ballots will be digitally scanned and allow more voters to vote faster, and provide a hard copy of ballots in case of technical malfunctions, Arlington County said in a press release. It’s the first time the county has used paper ballots since 1950, county General Registrar Linda Lindberg told ARLnow.com.
The county was forced to make the purchases by a ruling by the Commissioner of Elections recommending the electronic WinVote machines be decertified and prohibited.
“Last week, without any notification to the users, the State Board of Elections said they had found ‘vulnerabilities with the machines,'” Lindberg said. “This late-night press release that they did very publicly without our knowledge has basically killed the machines for us.”
When asked what problems Arlington had encountered with the touch-screen machines, in use in the county since 2003, Lindberg said “nothing.”
Arlington had already planned on purchasing paper ballots and digital scanners next year. A 2007 law passed by the General Assembly requires all localities, when procuring new voting equipment, to eschew electronic machines for paper ballots.
Arlington will now have to come up with $750,000 to purchase 60 digital scanners — one for each of the 53 votings precincts with extras for absentee ballots and training — in the FY 2016 budget, which the Arlington County Board will adopt next week.
“This is the minimal amount we can get by on for the time being,” Lindberg said. Next year, her office will have to spend hundreds of thousands of additional dollars procuring extra machines and equipment for a presidential election year, which means a much greater influx of absentee ballots.
The first election the paper ballots will be used for is the June Democratic primary for County Board. On May 9, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Lindberg’s office will be hosting an open house to explain the new balloting system on the ground floor of 2100 Clarendon Blvd.
In 1950, Arlington switched from paper ballots to the lever machines, where voters had to go into a booth and pull a curtain behind them. In 1991, the county introduced its first electronic machines — bulky, “but very reliable,” Lindberg said — and in 2003 they starting using the touch-screen system that is now obsolete.
Arts Center Gets Warhol Grant — The Arlington Arts Center has received a $70,000 grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. “Funding from the Foundation will increase AAC’s capacity to support and present the work of new artists and spur the development of new initiatives and exhibitions,” AAC said in a press release. “Programming support of this scale makes new programs possible, like one for rising curators, while also furthering the ongoing work of the arts center.”
Bicycle Billboard Towers Sought — The Washington Area Bicyclist Association and BikeArlington are seeking bike ambassadors for a safety campaign. Volunteers will ride around Arlington while towing a large, wheeled billboard that tells drivers to pass bikes with at least three feet of space. The sign also encourages all road users to be predictable, alert and lawful. [WABA]
Arlington Couple Get Baby Wish Times Three — The Washington Post’s “This Life” feature profiles an Arlington couple who had trouble conceiving a child when, all of a sudden, fate blessed them with three via various means. [Washington Post]
Voting Machines May Go Old School — As part of a state-wide switch, Arlington election officials are considering replacing all touch screen voting machines with digital optical scan machines in time for the 2016 presidential election. The new machines will utilize what is fundamentally an old-school voting method: scanning paper ballots, which then leaves a paper trail for recounts. [InsideNova]
Jane Goodall to Speak at Marymount Benefit — Famed primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall will speak at a benefit event for Arlington’s Marymount University this spring. The event is taking place at DAR Constitution Hall on Friday, April 17. Ticket proceeds will “help establish a fund at Marymount that will enhance the work of volunteerism and community engagement.” [Marymount University]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Sheryl Crow Musical Coming to Shirlington — The world premiere musical adaptation of the moving Diner is coming to Signature Theatre in Shirlington next month. Written by Academy Award-winning screenwriter Barry Levinson, with music and lyrics by Sheryl Crow, Diner will run from Dec. 9 to Jan. 25. [Signature Theatre]
Crossover Voting Strong in N. Arlington — Throughout Arlington, Democratic voters “crossed over” to vote for John Vihstadt on Tuesday. Overall, however, the residential portions of North Arlington had the greatest crossover vote for the independent County Board candidate. [Not Larry Sabato]
Voter ID Rule Mostly Affected Seniors — About 60 Arlington voters did not bring a photo ID to the polls on Tuesday, election officials said. Under new ID rules in Virginia, they could only cast a provisional ballot then come back and present photo ID. Most of those without ID were senior citizens, and many of those senior citizens were from the same local retirement home. [InsideNova]
(Updated at 2:00 a.m.) Incumbent County Board candidate John Vihstadt, running as an independent, has won a historic victory in Tuesday’s general election.
With all 53 precincts reporting, Vihstadt has captured 56 percent of the vote to 44 percent for Democratic challenger Alan Howze. Vihstadt’s margin of victory is just shy of 7,500 votes, with 62,663 total votes cast in the race.
Vihstadt won by attracting a sizable number of Democratic votes. All Arlington precincts reviewed by ARLnow voted for the top of the Democratic ticket, incumbent U.S. Senator Mark Warner, who is in a tight statewide race with Republican Ed Gillespie.
Vihstadt is the first non-Democrat to win an Arlington County Board seat in a general election since Republican Mike Brunner won in 1983. (Ellen Bozman was elected to the County Board in 1985 and 1989 while running as an independent, but she was endorsed by the Democratic party and in 1993 won reelection as a Democrat.)
“We’ve made modern history in Arlington County,” Vihstadt told ARLnow.com at his election party. “In my view, this was not a victory for any one person or any one party, it was a victory for a new way of doing things, a fresh perspective and a new paradigm in Arlington County where partisanship doesn’t mean much but citizenship means everything.”
Howze called Vihstadt to concede the race at 9:15 tonight. He said he was disappointed with the result, which came despite hard work on the campaign trail by his supporters.
“There was a message of dissatisfaction with the electorate,” Howze said. “I worked hard to bring new ideas and a new perspective to the County Board. They chose John and the alternative path he put forward. He ran a very good campaign, ultimately the voters rewarded him for that.”
Now off the campaign trail, Howze said he looks forward to spending more time with his wife and three young children.
At the Vihstadt victory party, the mood was jubilant, with campaign manager Eric Brescia jumping for joy as more and more precincts reported wider and wider margins for Vihstadt. County Board member Libby Garvey was by Vihstadt’s side during his victory speech, and was giddy after the victory. A Democrat, Garvey resigned from the Arlington County Democratic Committee’s executive board in April after backing Vihstadt.
“This wasn’t just a squeaker, we won it big,” Garvey said. “It’s a validation of what I’ve been saying, what John’s been saying. We serve the people of Arlington and we presented them with what we think needs to happen, and they said ‘yes, that’s what we want.’ It’s democracy at its best. I’m thrilled.”
Barbara Kanninen defeated Audrey Clement in one of two School Board races tonight. Kanninen has 66 percent of the vote to 34 for Clement. Nancy Van Doren, running for School Board unopposed, has 97 percent of the vote.
Across Virginia’s Eighth Congressional District, which includes Arlington, Democrat Don Beyer has emerged victorious over his four opponents. Beyer captured 63 percent of the vote to 32 percent for Republican Micah Edmond, 2 percent for Libertarian Jeffrey Carson, 0.5 percent for Independent Green candidate Gerard Blais, and 3 percent for independent Gwendolyn Beck.
“My whole life has been leading up to this moment and this mission,” Beyer said in a statement tonight. “Together, we will move Congress and this nation forward.”
In the statewide race for U.S. Senate, with 98 percent of precincts reporting, Democratic incumbent Mark Warner has 49.18 percent of the vote, Republican Ed Gillespie has 48.27 percent and Libertarian Robert Sarvis has 2.48 percent.
Though news outlets like CNN have yet to project a winner in the race, an “energized” Warner took the stage at his election night party at the DoubleTree Crystal City hotel to declare victory. A centrist, Warner promised to work across the aisle in the newly-Republican controlled Senate.
“Whether it’s here in Virginia or anywhere around the country, the people of America want to move past sound bites, they want us to move past political bickering… to make sure that we get the job done for you and actually govern,” he said. “I’ll go back to Washington and recognize that we have to find that common ground. I know that most of us here are Democrats but neither political party has a monopoly on truth or virtue or patriotism. In this new Senate I’ll work with anyone — Democrat, Republican, independent, you name it — if we’re going to make sure we get our country’s problems fixed.”
Among other things, Warner pledged to a work to pass a budget “so we don’t go back to the stupidity of sequestration.”
Locally, voters on Tuesday approved the all four Arlington County bond questions on the ballot, including:
- Schools ($105.7 million)
- Metro and Transportation ($59.7 million)
- Community Infrastructure ($40.2 million)
- Parks and Recreation ($13 million)
Democrat Carla de la Pava, running unopposed for county treasurer, captured 97 percent of the vote. (more…)
(Updated at 4:05 p.m.) The two candidates for Arlington County Board both say they’re feeling optimistic about their chances in today’s general election, but they also admitted that it’s anyone’s guess who will emerge victorious in the race.
Incumbent John Vihstadt, who’s running as an independent, said his campaign has “the message, the momentum and the means to win,” but said he’s “concerned” about the number of Democratic voters who came out specifically to vote on the congressional races, and are voting a straight party line by default.
“We would like to think most people who come out to vote, if they’re going to cast a vote for an office, that they will be informed and they’ll study the candidates in advance,” Vihstadt said while greeting voters outside the Walter Reed Recreation Center, near Columbia Pike. “There’s bound to be some people who just vote party line and don’t really look at the issues. But we feel confident that if voters judge the candidates, look at the issues, look at our background, that they’ll vote Vihstadt for County Board.”
A majority of the voters who talked to ARLnow.com outside the Walter Reed center around lunchtime said they opposed the Columbia Pike streetcar project, the election’s most talked-about issue. Vihstadt opposes the streetcar, while Democratic challenger Alan Howze generally supports it.
Howze acknowledged the “power of the sample ballot” helping his cause, but said he expects his progressive message to resonate with Arlington residents.
“A healthy democracy is always a good thing,” Howze said, while talking to voters outside the Wilson School voting center in Rosslyn. “Having a lot of people out participating in the process will give us a clear signal as to the direction the community wants to go.”
Howze, a father of three young children, said his campaign has been “a family and a community effort,” with a big assist from his wife, Pam.
“We’ve been working hard, we’ve done everything we can do, and now it’s up to the voters to decide,” Howze said. “We’re confident that the voters will choose to move Arlington forward.”
Vihstadt said his campaign has been fighting an uphill battle to reach voters who aren’t as engaged in local issues as those who voted for him over Howze in the County Board special election earlier this year. He’s hoping the Washington Post’s endorsement will help, as well as his television commercials, which have run during primetime football games and other cable TV programming.
“Cable TV ads… were surprisingly affordable, and we decided to give it a go,” Vihstadt said. “We’ve got great feedback, great response from those ads. The other nice thing about that ad is that it broadcasts the fact that as an independent we’re supported by parties across the political spectrum.”
Despite strong turnout this morning, so far few problems have been reported at polling stations. Arlington election officials tweeted that a party worker who had been handing out flyers outside Fire Station No. 10 in Rosslyn collapsed and was treated by emergency responders around 3:00 this afternoon.
Many voters who talked to ARLnow.com today said they were voting out of a sense of civic responsibility.
“I vote in every election because I think it’s our civic duty. I don’t miss a vote,” said Columbia Pike resident Nathan Chaisson.
“I am a huge supporter of Mark Warner, I think he’s done a wonderful job for this state,” Chaisson said of one of the factors that motivated his vote. “[I’m] satisfied with the taxes and the way our local government is run.”
Another voter, Alan Green, said he was voting after just getting back from serving in the Marine Corps in Iraq.
“I just want to come out here and do my part,” said Green. “People who don’t vote, that’s crazy. It’s one way you can express your thoughts and feelings to get the right person in the house.”
“We just need to get somebody… to make better decisions than we’ve got right now,” Green added. “Because right now it’s terrible. Basically we need to get things fixed because a lot of things are broken.”
Many polling places across Arlington had lines out the door as voters streamed in to decide Senate, House of Representatives, County Board and School Board races today.
At Arlington Traditional School (855 N. Edison Street), campaign workers stationed outside the school said lines were surprisingly long considering there is no presidential election this year. Wes Pippert has voted at the school for 20 years, and he said turnout was unusually strong.
Pippert said he hasn’t been following local issues, but that didn’t stop him from voting for all four bond measures — Metro and transportation, parks and recreation, capital projects and schools — on the ballot.
“I voted for County Board and School Board,” Pippert said, “but I can’t say I was very informed.”
Pippert’s son and daughter voted with him, and his son said he voted for Audrey Clement for School Board because he “liked her name” more than Barbara Kanninen’s.
Judy Word and Andrew Smoyer also voted at Arlington Traditional School, but they said they have been paying more attention to local issues — particularly the Columbia Pike streetcar — than in years past.
“I think the bulk of voters in the County Board election are voting their opinion on the streetcar,” Smoyer said. “We both thought more about it, because usually we vote party line. More than in previous years we had to think separately about the issues.”
Martha Deutscher voted at Washington-Lee High School, and she said she votes every year as a “loyal Democrat.”
“Streetcars don’t cross my mind,” she said. “I’m a Democrat, I usually vote Democrat. I’m just here to support the party.”
Arlington General Registrar Linda Lindberg predicts turnout in Arlington will be “about 50 percent” and said turnout is about 10-15 percent so far. The turnout is heavier in North Arlington than in South Arlington so far, Lindberg said, which is typical of most elections, despite the prominence of the streetcar in the race.
There have been complaints about faulty ballot machines in Culpepper Gardens and Arlington Traditional School — one ballot box froze at Washington-Lee but was quickly rebooted, according to the precinct chief — but Lindberg said that could simply be due to voter error.
“Our machines are definitely aging at 11 years old, and seldom does one keep a touchscreen device that long,” she said. “We have had a few issues with voters not properly making selections or complaining the selections they make aren’t registering. At Culpepper there are a lot of elderly voters who don’t always touch carefully. The election officers have been instructed to tell voters having difficulty making selections to either touch directly straight down on the selection or to use a stylus. We haven’t had issues when voters touch their selections properly.”
According to Lindberg, Arlington received 6,800 absentee votes, with “probably several hundred ballots still to be returned,” putting the absentee turnout at less than in the 2010 midterms that didn’t feature a Senate election. This election features the race to replace longtime Rep. Jim Moran, and Independent candidate Gwendolyn Beck was campaigning at Washington-Lee High School this morning.
Beck said it’s her goal to visit every polling place in the 8th Congressional District today, and she started with “packed” polling places Wilson School and Fire Station 10 in Rosslyn. In Rosslyn, she saw several voters she met on Saturday when campaigning during the Clarendon bar crawl.
“That’s the big question: how do you reach millennials?” she said. “You meet them where they go out.”
Party members recommend voters say no to the bonds because they are too broad. They believe approving the bonds would be the equivalent of offering blank checks to the Arlington School Board and the Arlington County Board to spend money on non-specific items.
The four bonds total nearly $219 million and include issues such as funding a new elementary school adjacent to Thomas Jefferson Middle School, as well as continuing funding for the Metro system.
“Arlington parents distrust the school board, and many feel duped by the School Board’s failure to approve a detailed CIP (Capital Improvement Plan),” said Arlington Green Party Chairman John Reeder. “South Arlington parents were promised years ago a new elementary school, now proposed to be built on scarce parkland next to TJ Middle School. Arlington parents should remember that critical on-going school programs were put on the chopping block in the past spring; and now a confused school board and a superintendent propose to rush spending $106 million on plans that are less than educationally optimal for our students.”
Party members point to past bonds approved by voters that apparently were vaguely worded and ended up funding controversial developments around the county.
“This county board built a million dollar bus stop on Columbia Pike, diverted many millions of park bond dollars approved by voters for park land acquisition to remodeling a failed Artisphere, and now proposes to spend over $300 million on a doomed trolley,” said Reeder. “Voters should be wary of allowing the county board to spend over $100 million without detailed engineering and vetted plans because of these past abuses.”
Although it has traditionally has run its own candidates in recent County Board elections, the Arlington Green Party has endorsed independent board member John Vihstadt in the November election.