Voter Turnout Eyed

Published 4:26 pm Thursday, November 3, 2011

PRINCE EDWARD-Area voters will have a plethora of choices to make Tuesday in local contests.

How much interest is there?

With so many contests for boards of supervisors, constitutional offices and seats in the General Assembly up for grabs, one just never knows but it would be difficult to match the turnout of 2008.

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“It's picked up a little bit…,” Prince Edward Voter Registrar Dale Bolt said Wednesday of interest. “Still nothing like a presidential (election).”

Prince Edward voters will select their constitutional officers (excluding circuit court clerk, who is elected for an eight-year term), four of its eight members on the board of supervisors, House of Delegates representative and State Senator.

It hasn't been an overwhelming number of absentee ballots, which often is a directional indicator. Sixty-five had chosen to vote in person at the registrar's office (using the machine) as of that morning, and 66 had been requested by mail and 26 returned.

In Cumberland, voters will fill the slots for constitutional officers, school board and board of supervisors for five districts. What may spark some voter interest this year is the number of local contests that includes a number of announced write-in candidates (see related story page one).

Cumberland Voter Registrar Marlene Watson was aware of five such candidates as of Wednesday-four for the county's school board and one for the board of supervisors.

So far, Ms. Watson sees an “about normal” year for absentee voters. As of Wednesday, there were about 80 absentee voters, but that number may rise. All registrars offices are open on Saturday and offer absentee in-person voting.

If absentee voters are a harbinger for turnout, it will be a busy Tuesday in Buckingham. Voters will select representatives to the seven districts of the board of supervisors and school board, in addition to constitutional officers, State delegate and state senator.

Voter Registrar Margaret Thomas reported Wednesday that they were “extremely heavy” on absentee ballots.

She estimated that they had maybe 250 absentees. In a regular election, she said they “might have 20.”

So far, about half of those voting absentee have chosen to mail their ballots in and about half have come into the office to cast their vote. (The time for the registrar to mail out absentee ballots ended Tuesday. Returned ballots have to be back by election day.)

For those who are voting in person Tuesday, polls across Virginia open at 6 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. While redistricting moved some lines in advance of the election and voter cards were sent out, anyone confused about where they should vote can contact the registrar in their county.