For many years, Alexandria voters did not use paper ballots at all. They simply walked up to an election judge and announced their vote in public, a process known as “viva voce.” It wasn’t until after the Civil War that election officials began using the “secret ballot.” That ballot was, of course, paper. Until the 21st century.
Modern voters have seen a number of changes in recent years. About a decade ago, the city ditched paper ballots in favor of an electronic voting system that was accessible to voters with a variety of disabilities. Now, everything that’s old is new again — although city voters have yet to return to viva voce voting. This week, Registrar Tom Parkins unveiled the latest in voting technology: paper ballots.
The move was in response to a 2007 bill passed by the Virginia General Assembly, which requires jurisdictions to buy machines that have a paper trail. Localities got to keep their existing machines for the time being. But as soon as the life expectancy of the equipment ran out, the legislation says, election officials have to move to a system with a paper trail. Alexandria Registrar Tom Parkins says voters will always have an option to use the electronic machines, particularly voters with disabilities.
“It went very smoothly,” Parkins said of the maiden voyage. “We had very few problems.”
One small snag prevented two people from participating in the election, though. When voters are finished marking the paper ballots, they are required to insert them into a machine that resembles a printer. But two voters merely placed the ballots on top of the machine rather than insert them into the slot. Parkins says those ballots were dicarded.
“We cannot cast ballots for voters,” he said. “The law is very clear about that.”
17 School Board Candidates
The race for Alexandria School Board is finally taking shape, after weeks of speculation that the race might not even attract enough candidates to run in all the districts. Tuesday was the deadline for potential candidates to file documents, and several new candidates emerged at the last minute. The race is shaping up to be extremely competitive, especially in District A, which has seven candidates seeking three seats. Six candidates will be competing for the three seats in District B. And four candidates are vying for three seats in District C, which has traditionally been the district with the least competition.
Candidates who have filed papers to run in District A are Bill Campbell, Karen Graf, Scott Gordon, Stephanie Kapsis, Helen Morris, Joyce Rawlings and Heath Wells. Candidates who have filed papers to run in District B include Kelly Booz, Michael Brookbank, Chyrell Bucksell, Justin Keating, Marc Williams and Chris Yianilos. Candidates who have filed papers to run in District C are Chris Lewis, Ronnie Campbell, Pat Hennig and Jeff Zack.
That means a number of incumbents are not seeking reelection, Mimi Carter, Sheryl Gorsuch, Yvonne Folkerts, Arthur Peabody, Blanche Maness and Charles Wilson.
Councilwoman Alicia Hughes gathered signatures for a potential run for District C, although she was not able to file them before the deadline at 7 p.m.
Everybody knows Alexandria is a dog town, even the candidates. But one candidate was hoping that his love for man’s best friend might help him at the polls. As it turns out, the strategy did not fetch results for Navy veteran Bruce Shuttleworth, who was unsuccessful in his attempt to unseat longtime U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-8).
“Dogs seem to gravitate toward me,” said Shuttleworth while greeting a Border Collie named Dolly at the Maury School Precinct Tuesday morning. “One of the highlights of this campaign has been meeting all the dogs of the 8th Congressional District.”
For Shuttleworth and all the candidates who were unsuccessful Tuesday, there’s always the next election, which is only 14 dog years away.