When voters go to the polls on June 14, they will be asked by elections officials to state a choice for either a Democratic or Republican ballot; no voter will be allowed to vote in both primaries. Unlike other states, the Commonwealth of Virginia does not ask voters to register for a party to vote in its primaries.
"People in Alexandria will have to choose whether they want a Democratic ballot or a Republican ballot," said Alexandria Supervisor of Elections Tom Parkins. "A few people will be miffed about that."
If voters choose a Democratic ballot, they will be able to select a preference for a lieutenant governor candidate and — if they live in the 45th district — a House of Delegates candidate. If they choose a Republican ballot, they will get to vote in a primary for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general. Parkins said that this will be an unusual primary because both parties are participating.
"I've been here five years, and this is the first time I've seen both parties hold a primary," he said. "It's more common for only one party to hold a primary."
ELECTIONS WORKERS are preparing for one of the hottest primary races in the Virginia as six candidates vie to be the choice of the Democrats for the open seat in the 45th district. Seats such as this one are not often vacated, so a relatively large group of contenders are in a tight competition for votes.
The 45th district is spread out over an area that includes parts of Arlington County, City of Alexandria and Fairfax County. The Alexandria part of the district has 13 precincts. Elections officials expect about 4,000 Alexandria voters to cast a ballot in this race. Arlington Supervisor of Elections Linda Lindberg expects about 1,000 Arlington voters in three precincts to participate in primary for the 45th. Gary Scott, acting general registrar of Fairfax County, expects about 1,000 voters in six precincts to participate in this primary.
Elections officials in Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax said that they expected about 10 percent participation in the election, so the winner of the Democratic primary for the 45th district could conceivably win the election with fewer than 1,000 votes. Because a winner could emerge with such a small number of votes, each campaign is now engaged in a fierce get-out-the vote initiative that involves friends, churches, co-workers and family members.
"It's really going to come down to the precinct workers and how many supporters each candidate can get to the polls," said retiring Del. Marian Van Landingham. "Voter turnout is the great imponderable in all this."
VIRGINIA LAW sets the date of primaries as the second Tuesday in June. This year, that date also happens to be a Jewish holiday. According to the Jewish calendar, the holiday known as Shavu'ot is celebrated 50 days after Passover. This is a day when Jews commemorate God giving the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai.
Because of the holiday, one of Alexandria's polling places will be moved. Precinct 1, which normally votes at Agudas Achim Congregation on Valley Drive, will instead vote at the Charles Barrett Center on Martha Custis Drive.
"Of course, religious Jews can still vote by absentee ballot, so it's probably not even that big an impact," wrote Lowell Feld in a blog called "Raising Kaine," a site devoted to gubernatorial candidate Tim Kaine. "Most likely, we're talking about a few dozen voters who would have voted, really wanted to vote, but ended up not voting because of Shavu'ot."
Feld could not pass up the opportunity to have some fun with the situation.
"Still, it's a strange coincidence this year, with Passover — and, hence, Shavu'ot — falling so late on the Gregorian calendar. It's also kind of a pain in the tuchis, a topic to kibitz about, and possibly something to get the political meyvins shvitsing more than ever over their kakameyme prognosticating," he wrote. "In the final analysis, the only thing you can really do in a situation like this is to scratch your head, roll your eyes, shrug your shoulders and loudly exclaim, 'Oy Vey!!'"