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Votes

Residents Head to the Polls

A steady stream of residents arrived at Stone Bridge High School Tuesday morning to cast their vote in the Senate and House of Representativesâ 10th District races. Also on the ballot were several county and school bond questions as well as three constitutional amendments.

Many of the people who voted at the Ashburn precinct said they were motivated by how tight many of the races and amendments were.

"[The races] are so close that we need to make sure every vote is counted, on both sides," Alison Simon-Kissel said.

"I wanted to see if one vote really could make a difference," resident Amy Papadopoulos said.

Echoing sentiment that has been repeated often during this campaign, some Ashburn residents said they were simply ready for a change in the country's government.

"I think it is just time to vote the Democrats in and the Republicans out," resident Andy Smith said.

Papadopoulos, who said she always comes out to vote when there is an election, said she was motivated this election by the opportunity to usher in a new government.

"I think there is a chance for some change," she said.

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 turn out 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."

INDEED, MANY precincts saw a higher turnout than they originally anticipated.

"We have had a steady stream of people since 6 o'clock," Ray Ehrenbeck, Stone Bridge's chief election officer, said. "A lot of people have been coming out to vote."

Volunteers on both sides of the issues, many of whom had been outside of the Stone Bridge precinct since before the polls opened at 6 o'clock, said they were pleasantly surprised at the number of people they had seen.

"It is a lot bigger than I thought it would be," Brian Taylor, a volunteer from the county's Republican Party, said.

Jonathan Weintraub, who handed out leaflets urging people vote against the marriage amendment, said he thought there was going to be a huge turn out by the time the polls closed.

"It's been packed," he said. "I've never seen anything like it. I have gotten a great positive response."

While Ehrenbeck did not want to speculate on how many people the Stone Bridge precinct would see throughout the day, he said he was encouraged.

"The real test will be after the polls close and everything is counted," he said.

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 predominately paper ballot county.

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

WHEN IT CAME to the county's bond issues, schools and roads seemed to hold the first priority for some residents, even if it meant using tax revenue to build them.

"We don't have kids so we don't tend to vote for the schools," Simon-Kissel said, "but I think anyone who drives these roads votes for anything that could improve them."

Smith said he is more often than not in favor of county bonds, but that this year two issues took a priority for him.

"With the population explosion we have got to have road improvements and schools as a part of the growth of the county," he said.

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.