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Votes

Residents Get Out the Vote

It was only 8:30 in the morning on election day and already Jo-Ann Chase needed more sample ballots. The volunteer from the Loudoun County Republican Party Committee had been standing outside of the Briar Wood High School since before the polls opened at 6 a.m.

"It has been wonderful," Chase said of the morning. "I am very positively impressed with the turn out."

Chase, a Puerto Rico native who has been volunteering for the Republican Party since she moved to the United States more than 30 years ago, said she was amazed at the number of people.

"This is a brand new precinct so I wouldn't have expected as many," she said. "They've been coming in droves. They're energized, smiling and excited."

IN THIS CLOSE election year, voter turnout Nov. 7 was expected to be higher than it had been in other recent elections.

"There are a lot of polling places that around lunch time were telling us they had already given out about half of their voter cards," Judy Brown, the county's general registrar, said. "We gave them enough for a 50 percent turn out."

Last year's election, which put Del. David Poisson (D-32) into the General Assembly, saw 41.6 percent voter turnout. In 2002, the last year there was both a Senate and House election, voter turnout was 43 percent.

"It is important to note that since 2002 the number of registered voters has increased by 21 percent," Brown said. "So the same percent means a higher number of people voting."

Brown added that many precincts had been reporting high turn out and long lines.

"We heard there were really long lines at the Little River [Elementary School] precinct," she said. "We just hope people will be patient."

VOTERS ENCOUNTERED two different ways of voting when they went to the polls Tuesday. They had the option to vote on a paper ballot or electronically. The direct recording electronic machine's main purpose is to serve residents with disabilities, Barbara Cockrell, a spokesperson for the Virginia State Board of Elections, said, but anyone can use them.

Some precincts encourage their voters to use the machines if there is a heavy voter turnout, but, Brown said, Loudoun is still a predominantly paper ballot county.

"You can't run out of electronic ballots," Cockrell said. "It's another way to keep the lines moving, too."

MANY OF THE residents who voted at the Brambleton school said they usually voted, but that they felt strongly about supporting their positions in this election.

"It's everyone's right to go and vote," Brambleton resident Daryl Schauss said. "People fought and died for us to have that right."

"I vote every time," Brambleton resident Joshua Flory said. "But I really wanted to see Allen stay in there."

For Loudoun Valley Estates resident Erin Coleman the election was a time to try and help facilitate change she believes the country needs.

"I think it is a critical time in this country," she said. "We need to regain control in Congress so we can turn things around with our foreign policy."

WHEN IT CAME to the county bond issues, residents in Brambleton said they believed an infrastructure is of the utmost important to the county, even if it means using local tax money to fund it.

"We're the fastest-growing area," Schauss said. "I thought we should improve the [roads] out here."

"Every time there is a chance to vote for road improvements, I am going to do it," Flory said.

While Coleman said she supported one of the proposed road projects, her first priority as a soon-to-be mom is the school system.

"There was a lot of money to be given out," she said of the ballot. "I am thinking about the future and having good schools for the county."

The Loudoun Connection went to press Tuesday before the polls closed. Visit www.connectionnewspapers.com for the results of the county and school bond questions, as well as the other election issues.