Northern Virginia voter turnout could swing elections

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ARLINGTON, VA (Gray DC) - Races for Virginia’s highest offices could turn on whether voters in heavily-populated and politically blue Northern Virginia turnout.

A slow trickle of voters through polling places just before noon may mask strong turnout here in Arlington. The county operates 54 polling places and absentee voting broke the previous record high.

The rain didn’t stop 92-year-old Helen Gray from casting her ballot. “Oh man, that’s just a part of living,” she said, “to have the privilege of being able to make decisions and get out and vote.”

Over the last few gubernatorial elections – when turnout is high in Northern Virginia, Democrats tend to have an advantage. By noon, 31 percent of registered voters already received their sticker. Nearly 13,000 more voted early, either in-person or through the mail.

Arlington County Director of Elections Linda Lindberg said she expects more than half of registered voters here to cast a ballot. “Weather permitting, we should have a really good turnout,” she said, “certainly better than we had four years ago.”

Lindberg said rain could washout afternoon attendance but notes that most in Arlington County vote in the morning.

With tight races up and down the ballot, she knows her area will be heavily scrutinized if a recount is necessary. “It just means we have to be better prepared, because there is such a focus on us here in Northern Virginia,” she said.

Election officials in other Northern Virginia counties – like Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William – also told us they anticipate strong turnout election day. Most estimated it would be about 50 percent.