Low Voter Turnout May Doom Governing Documents Vote

Low Voter Turnout May Doom Governing Documents Vote

RA puts get-out-the-vote machinery into high gear.

The Reston Association Board of Directors would like to see members vote yes on the governing documents referendum, but for the last few weeks that hope has been an afterthought.

There’s only one thing the nine board members are focused on now: getting enough votes to make the referendum valid.

According to the current set of governing documents, changes to the deed require at least 40 percent of eligible voters, the equivalent of 6,828 votes.

By the end of five weeks of voting, the governing documents referendum has received 4,086 votes. To be valid, the referendum still needs an additional 2,742 votes. Ballots were mailed out Feb. 13 and are due back by March 31.

In past referendums, the majority of voting occurred within the first two weeks of the voting period with a small boost in the final weeks, according to RA. Board members say that voters are holding onto their ballots longer in this referendum to thoroughly review the myriad changes that were made.

WITH LESS THAN two weeks left for members to vote, RA has organized an unprecedented get-out-the-vote effort.

“And we’re going to try to intensify our efforts,” said Milton Matthews, executive vice president and CEO of RA.

For the past five weeks, RA has been honing a get-out-the-vote strategy. “We’re pulling out all the stops,” Director Robin Smyers said. But she also said they have no clue how people voted or who voted or didn’t vote, so their efforts have blanketed the community.

Since the ballots were mailed, RA staff and volunteers have hung 13,000 door hangers. RA has placed advertisements in the local newspapers. Automatic telephone calls with prerecorded messages by Jennifer Blackwell, RA president, and Douglas Bushée, RA vice president, have begun going out each Thursday to remind members to vote. RA officials taped public service announcements aired on Comcast.

On March 10, RA sent out a postcard to remind members to vote. Another reminder will be sent out today, March 22.

Last week, the four district board members sent out letters to their constituents, urging them to vote on the referendum.

Local pizza joints have also pledged to help out. Domino’s Pizza and Vocelli Pizza have added flyers to their pizza boxes.

Then, there are the phone calls. Board members have spent countless hours on the phone reaching out to voters, asking them to vote and asking them to call their friends to vote.

BECAUSE OF ALL these efforts, RA board members and staff continue to be confident that voters will turnout. “I remain optimistic that the quorum requirement will be met,” said Blackwell, who spent 16 hours last weekend to get people to vote. That doesn’t mean that RA isn’t concerned, Blackwell said.

“We’re not panicking, but we want to make sure that we’re doing everything we can and working as hard as we can,” said Blackwell.

RA spent four and a half years revising the governing documents, which were last revised in 1984.

While no one on the board wants to even think about the possibility that the referendum will fail, they agree that the association’s financial future is on the line.

“If it fails, future boards will have to make some tough decisions,” said Smyers. “It will be inevitable that the effort would have to be picked up again.”