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November 5, 2013

Turnout hits 45 percent among Fauquier voters

Election Results
Terry R. McAuliffe (D) — 7,375
Ken. T. Cuccinelli II (R) — 12,562
Robert C. Sarvis (L) — 991

Lt. Governor
Ralph S. Northam (D) — 8,466
E.W. Jackson (R) — 12,264

Attorney General
Mark R. Herring (D) — 7,872
Mark D. Obenshain (R) — 12,939

Va. House (18th District)
Colin S. Harris (D) — 5,003
Michael J. Webert (R) — 8,233

Va. House (31st District)
Jeremy S. McPike (D) — 1,520
L. Scott Lingamfelter (R) — 3,621

Va. House (88th)
Kathleen T. O’Halloran (D) — 709
Mark L. Cole (R) — 1,727

Fauquier Treasurer
Tanya Remson Wilcox (R) 17,819
Across Fauquier County on Tuesday, 20,928 citizens took part in a fundamental civic exercise.

They voted in the election for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, Virginia House of Delegates and county treasurer.

That represents 44.9 percent of Fauquier’s 46,565 registered voters.

By comparison, turnout hit 80 percent here in last November’s presidential election.

Fauquier’s 20 polling places opened at 6 a.m. and closed at 7 p.m.

Throughout Election Day, visted precincts around the county to talk with voters and poll workers.

5:56 p.m. — Courthouse Precinct
Warrenton Presbyterian Church

Skipping and holding her dad George’s hand, Sofia Minera, 8, crosses the brick pedestrian path on Main Street.

As they walk by the volunteer tables outside, she says, “Yay, voting!”

A dedicated voter, Mr. Minera participates in every election. He brings his daughter along to teach her “leadership by example.”

“I could have come earlier to vote, but I waited so she could come with me. She is at an impressionable age and it’s important to exercise our rights,” he says.

“I think it’s pretty exciting that he votes for the people who run this country and he gets to be a part of it and I get to be a part of it,” Sofia says.

Although the federal government shutdown did not affect Mr. Minera’s voting, he believes people are passionate and want their voices to be heard in this election.

Similarly, Gaynita Sharp from Warrenton says she votes in every election “because every election is important and otherwise, we are not heard. It’s my responsibility.”

She voted on her way home from Leesburg where she works as a nurse.

At 5:58 p.m., 1,244 votes had been cast at the church out of 3,439 registered voters. That is 36.14 percent of voters registered at this precinct.

3:59 – Airlie precinct
C.M. Bradley Elementary School

Dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt, Rodrigo Ponce made it to the polls just before the evening rush.

The 45-year-old Hispanic man votes in every election.

“It is to improve our living,” Mr. Ponce said. “Voting for a better life for my county and community.”

At age 12, he entered the country illegally from Michoacán, Mexico, before becoming a U.S. citizen.

After seven years in Los Angeles, Mr. Ponce came to Virginia, where he’s lived since.

He lists funding education for his four children as his top concern. His eldest, Karen Ponce studies at George Mason University.

With three other offspring between the ages of 12 and 18, Mr. Ponce knows he must send them to college.

“It’s hard to pay,” he admitted.

A self-proclaimed Democrat, Mr. Ponce works as a mason in the construction business. He takes pride in his work and independence.

“I have a house and can afford to live,” he said. “I work hard. I don’t ask anyone for nothing. I pay my taxes. My daughter applied for a scholarship and she didn’t get it because I make money.”

He understands the issues confronting the U.S. and its immigrants.

“We come over here and work hard, we don’t ask for anything,” Mr. Ponce explained. “Many people go back to their country because they don’t receive enough benefit to stay here anymore. The government doesn’t do much for Latinos.”

He looks around and sees a place much different than the nation he sought as a child.

In some ways, things have improved, he said. Other issues – notably gun control – worry Mr. Ponce.

“Before, you could walk around with no worries. Today, you’ve got to watch everyone,” he said. “You don’t know who’s going to go crazy. Back then, no one was scared. Now, everybody’s watching you; I feel unsafe.”

Airlie precinct election chief Frank Payne reported 860 of the precinct’s 2,518 registered voters – around 34 percent – cast ballots by 3:59 p.m.

“It’s real good,” Mr. Payne said. “At 6 this morning, we had a line of 18 or 19 people. It’s been steady.”

The substitute teacher brought three cups of coffee for his 4:30 a.m. arrival. He’d since run out of java, but plenty of donuts remained.

— Mark Trible

1:38 p.m. — Warrenton Precinct
Warrenton Community Center

Interview questions ready, Kelsey Gastley, a 12-year-old Marshall Middle School student, approaches the Democratic and Republican poll work tables.

Her mother and younger sister, Regan, 8, follow.

The seventh-grader conducts poll worker interviews as an extra credit project for a civics course.

Kelsey questions volunteers, clad in patriotic garb, in front of the polling place and observes the activity inside.

“I have learned that you should do research and then go vote. You should vote instead of waiting for things to happen because people have served the country for me to be able to vote,” she says.

She asks:

• What are the limitations on campaigning at polling places?

• Has voter participation been good?

• What do you feel about citizens responsibility to vote?

Kris Gastley, Kelsey’s mother and a teacher at Marshall Middle School, always brings her two girls with her to the polls.

“They hear us, as parents, talk about the issues and the candidates. I want them to see the whole process through to the end,” Ms. Gastley says.

Voters file into the community center.

Susie Kaesshaefer, 84, from Warrenton votes in every election.

“I’m exercising my constitutional right. I’ve been voting ever since I could,” Mrs. Kaesshaefer explains.

Her daughter Linda Reid says they prefer to use the paper ballots.

“This is an important election for Virginia. The government shutdown encouraged me to come vote today. We want to make the state red again,” Ms. Reid says.

Election officials say voter turnout has been steady since 9 a.m. A total of 780 citizens — a third of those eligible — had cast ballots as of 2:15 p.m.

— Cassandra Brown

1:35 p.m. — Baldwin Ridge Precinct
P.B. Smith Elementary School

Fauquier County Electoral Board member Jane Hurst breezes into the school gymnasium on her rounds among polling places.

Voter turnout varies widely around the county, Ms. Hurst reports.

About 20 percent of the 1,560 registered in Baldwin Ridge have voted so far.

But, next door, at Our Savior Lutheran Church — the Broad Run precinct — about 25 percent have cast ballots.

And, “they’re on fire” in the Catlett precinct, where turnout already has hit 30 percent, Ms. Hurst says.

She thinks the county could exceed the anticipated 40 percent turnout.

James Cowley and Suzanne Sloane want to do their part to ensure participation — at least among those identified as Republican voters.

Listening to each voter’s name, Ms. Cowley and Ms. Sloane sit behind election officials at the check-in tables.

Ms. Sloane taps away on an iPad, keeping track of who has voted at Baldwin Ridge. A web application will produce lists for a phone bank at the county GOP headquarters in Warrenton. Starting at 2 p.m., Republican volunteers will call those identified as favoring their candidates but who have yet to vote.

Democrats in Fauquier haven’t matched the Republican poll watching effort in this election.

— Lawrence Emerson

11:46 a.m. – Marshall precinct
Marshall Ruritan Building

Belden Bell’s 9-week-old golden retriever puppy caught everyone’s eye. The small dog named “Hope” wore a collar covered in campaign stickers.

One for Republican Del. Michael Webert and another for Ken Cuccinelli, the party’s candidate for governor.

“Freedom today is what we’re hopeful for,” the 78-year-old Mr. Bell said. “Keep the state on the right track; it’s Virginians versus the outsiders.”

His wife Rae and their two daughters, Heather and Lee, joined him outside the polling place.

In 1976, Mr. Bell ran for Congress in Indiana. He lost to Democrat David Cornwell by four-tenths of a percent.

“I won a three-way primary before that,” the staunch Republican said. “I really know how much one vote can mean.”

He worked closely with the party after the defeat. In 1980, Mr. Bell served as a coordinator to Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy and defense committee.

Transportation tops his list of issues for his adopted home commonwealth. The Bells moved to Virginia in 1977 and have stayed since.

“It’s a whole new world out there,” Mr. Bell said. “Things were pretty balanced in ’76 and now it seems to be a welfare society.”

Mrs. Bell chimed in.

“Back then, you knew what the issues were. Now, a lot of our freedoms are on the line,” she said.

Inside the precinct, another Midwest transplant enjoyed the morning.

Chief election official Verle Wright, an Iowa native, worked his 18th year at Fauquier polls. Mr. Wright never voted in the famous Iowa caucuses, as he started his 22-year naval career when he hit the voting age.

The 62-year-old volunteered in Prince William County before he moved to Fauquier in 2003.

“It needs to be done, and I enjoy it,” Mr. Wright said. “I get to see a lot of people. It’s a good way to learn a lot about the community.”

He works in Rockville, Md., in the computer security field.

Even the electronic ballots impress him.

“This system is about as secure as you’re going to get,” he said. “If anything happens in this system, it’s an inside job.”

As of 11:46, the Marshall precinct reported 572 out of 2,645 registered voters had cast their ballots.

— Mark Trible

10:55 a.m. – Leeds precinct
Emmanuel Episcopal Church

For a few minutes, Democratic Party representatives Irv Woods and Lynn Coleman stood and talked to one another.

Voters walked by their pamphlet-filled table on the way to the old church’s parish hall. Some took the sample ballot; others declined.

“This occasion should warm anybody up,” Mr. Coleman said.

It got cold quickly for the duo. Kay Callahan – a Southern California resident – came with her sister to the polls.

“Poison, poison,” she said as she passed the Democrats’ table. “There’s a good side and there’s the devil’s side.”

Mr. Woods bantered with Ms. Callahan for a few minutes as his colleague watched the show.

“I’d like to see the state not taken over by Democrats,” Ms. Callahan said. “I came to shoot pictures of the church, but if I can save a few McAuliffe people, then that’s fine.”

Despite the argument, Mr. Coleman reiterated his top rule of conduct on Election Day.

“The first thing you do is shake hands with the Republican electioneer,” he said.

The 74-year-old Hume resident became a Democrat in 1960 when he served as county chairman of “Youth for Kennedy and Johnson” in Abilene, Texas.

“It was Nixon territory, I assure you,” he remembered with a chuckle. “Of course, Lyndon was from Texas. One way or another, I’ve been involved in every election since then.”

Mr. Coleman spent the last 30 years helping his party in Delaplane.

A semi-retired energy lawyer, the Lone Star State native has spent the last 40 years in and around Washington.

“Maybe it’s just my advanced age, but I do believe it was better in times past,” he said of the political climate. “There certainly weren’t as many lobbyists then.”

Ms. Callahan admitted things have changed since the days when her parents wouldn’t reveal their votes.

“We’re like this with everything. Facebook and everything are about people saying what’s going on in their lives,” she said.

Susan Douglass shared perspective on the big day. Her husband John lost to Republican Robert Hurt in the 5th Congressional District race last year.

“You see it very differently,” Mrs. Douglass said of an Election Day after a campaign year. “You understand the things that decide the election . . . like the amount of money you raise.”

Leeds precinct officials reported as of 10:55 a.m. reported 459 ballots cast. That represents 18.6 percent of 2,469 registered voters.

— Mark Trible

9:20 a.m. — Opal Precinct
Liberty High School

Citizens flow steadily into the Opal precinct polling place ready to cast their votes. The cold morning brings 155 voters to Liberty High School as of 9:48 a.m.

Raymond Payette, a federal government employee who works near Dulles, almost chose not to vote today because of political mudslinging between candidates.

“There have been so many ad hominem attacks and our nation seems to be polarized. I think there were important issues lost because of all the mud slinging,” Mr. Payatte explains.

Regardless, the Bealeton resident chooses to vote because: “This race is important. The outcome of this election could sway the country.”
In the future, he believes candidates needs to be more civil.

“The candidates need to be prepared to build bridges and compromise,” he says. “People don’t read as much and they get most of their information from the television these days in five minute sound bites. We need to be more profound than that.”

Inside, voters find the gym hallway lined with polling booths.

Carol Early has worked at the polls for eight years.

As chief election officer, she regards the job — which pays precinct chiefs $200 a day, assistants $150 and other workers $125 — as service to her community.

“We are here to represent the voters and encourage them to come out and vote,” Ms. Early says.

This election, she brought granddaughter Samantha Holmes, 23, to help.

“It’s important because so many people don’t do it. You need to put an effort into your voice,” says Miss Holmes, a first time election official. “There are not many young people working the polls and who is going to fill in when older community members are gone?”

6:15 a.m. — Casanova Precinct

H.M. Pearson Elementary School

Long before the sun rose, Michelle Kuhn started the day with hot chocolate and as trip to the Casanova polling place to help set up chairs and tables.

The work started at 5 a.m.

A Liberty High School senior, Michelle volunteers as an election page.

At age 17, she can’t vote yet but deems it important.

“I’ve learned the voter turnout is low and that’s sad,” the Midland resident says. “If you don’t vote, you can’t complain. It’s not that difficult because people are in and out in two minutes. If more people knew how easy it was, they would do it.”

Her work today will earn 19 community service hours, which her National Honor Society membership requires.

Although a page cannot handle official election duties or materials, she guides voters to the check-in table and informs them of the necessary identification as they walk through the door.

Already, the turnout of older citizens voting inspires her.

“I think the best way would be to convince people it doesn’t take a lot of time and talk to more people without being obnoxious about it,” she says.

Willie H. Washington, the Casanova precinct’s assistant chief officer of elections agrees.

“Welcome! Come right on in! We aim to please you!” says Mr. Washington, opening the door and greeting voters.

“You have to encourage people to come,” the 11-year veteran poll worker says.

Six citizens waited for the door to open at 6 a.m.

By 6:15 a.m., 17 citizens voted. Thirty-four cast ballots in the first hour at H.M. Pearson.

— Cassandra Brown

6:02 a.m. — Remington precinct
Margaret M. Pierce Elementary School

Election Day changes the daily routine for thousands of citizens.

Ty Thompson normally leaves southern Fauquier at 4:15 a.m. weekdays for the drive to his job at an engineering firm in Northern Virginia.

This morning, Mr. Thompson casts the first ballot in Remington before hitting the road. Civic duty delays his morning drive about two hours.

He and 11 others lined up behind the school as the thermometer nudged 31 and a hint of blue appeared in the eastern sky.

Liberty High School senior Emmaline Peck normally gets up at 6 a.m. This morning, she rose two hours earlier to prepare for her shift as a student page at the Remington precinct.

For the first time, two dozen students will help out at the polls in a program to encourage young people to get involved.

Emmaline, 17, learned of the program in government class.

“They needed volunteers, and I went for it,” she says of the activity, which will count toward her National Honor Society community service requirement.

“It wasn’t so bad,” Emmaline says of the early alarm.

Thirty-seven voters — many wearing government or corporate IDs around their necks — cast ballots at Remington by 6:20 a.m.

The precinct has 2,855 registered.

— Lawrence Emerson
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Ziggy · November 5, 2013 at 10:01 pm
Great coverage by Fauquier Now and we appreciate the effort made to hit all the various polling places and get the photos on here so early. Keep up the great work.
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