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Votes

Editorial: Every Vote in Virginia Will Count

Top presidential donor zip codes in this area show Virginia is purple; Romney or Obama to be decided on Election Day.

Some Top Local Zips, Presidential Donors

McLean 22101

Romney $422,770

Obama $232,876

Bethesda 20817

Obama $359,656

Romney $249,399

Potomac 20854

Romney $340,885

Obama $291,402

McLean 22102

Romney $255,444

Obama $193,321

Arlington 22207

Obama $193,543

Romney $178,196

Alexandria 22314

Romney $172,425

Obama $142,467

Great Falls 22066

Romney $166,457

Obama $91,290

Arlington 22202

Obama $79,568

Romney $39, 740

Alexandria 22301

Obama $52,347

Romney $42,095

Source: OpenSecrets.com and VPAP.org

If you wonder if presidential politics really matters in this area, consider that Northern Virginia and suburban Maryland hold some of the top zip codes for contributions to the two major party candidates.

Donors who live in McLean 22101 gave $422,770 to Romney this presidential cycle, and $232,876 to Obama. In McLean 22102, donors gave Romney $255,444, and Obama $193,321. In Arlington, 22207, donors gave $193,543 to Obama and $178,196 to Romney. In Alexandria 22314, donors gave $172,425 to Romney and $142,467 to Obama.

While Maryland consistently votes for Democrats in presidential races, donors who live in Potomac, Md. 20854 gave Romney $340,885, and Obama $291,402.

In order to vote in the presidential election on Tuesday, Nov. 6, residents must be registered to vote at their current address by Monday, Oct. 15.

Virtually everyone in Northern Virginia is eligible to vote absentee, and absentee voting in person begins Sept. 21. Here is the qualification that applies: Any person who, in the regular and orderly course of his business, profession, or occupation, will be at his place of work and commuting to and from his home to his place of work for 11 or more hours of the 13 hours that the polls are open.

Any commute in Northern Virginia could potentially take four hours or more in a crisis situation. This is definitely a case where voting early is an excellent idea. Don't take the risk that the next derecho storm or earthquake will keep you from the polls on Nov. 6.

This area has very high rates of voter registration. Consider that Fairfax County, with a population of just more than 1.1 million people, has 711,817 registered voters. And 24 percent of Fairfax County's population is under 18, so not eligible to vote.

Arlington has a population of 216,000 and 157,236 registered voters. Sixteen percent are under 18.

The City of Alexandria has a population of 144,000 with 101,887 registered voters; 17 percent are under 18.

We're lucky in Virginia to have the Virginia Public Access Project, vpap.org. On the VPAP website, maps of Virginia's zip codes showing shades of red and blue give a quick visual sense of how purple the Commonwealth really is. Take a look.

Compromise on E-ZPass Transponders

While the Virginia Department of Transportation initially proposed that all E-ZPass customers would pay $1 a month for each transponder they have, on July 9 VDOT announced that if one had a transponder before July 9, 2012, no fee will need to be paid until one has to replace the transponder.

New E-ZPass customers will pay a 50-cent monthly fee for a standard transponder and $1 monthly fee for a "Flex" transponder. The Flex transponder allows drivers to switch to a high-occupancy position if they have three or more people in the vehicle so that they can drive in the new Beltway toll lanes for free. Drivers with fewer than three passengers will pay a toll to drive in the express lanes that will vary depending on how much traffic there is.

This is certainly better than charging all E-ZPass users $1 per month per transponder. We still wonder why the cost of transponders is not recovered in the tolls paid rather than as a separate fee whether or not drivers are regularly driving on toll roads.