Katie Hugo, daughter of Del. Tim Hugo (R-40), turned 18 at the beginning of February and insisted she cast her first official vote with dad, who she said is the reason she’s involved and interested in politics.
The two of them arrived at the Clifton precinct polling station around 7 a.m. on Super Tuesday.
“It’s important that everyone has the chance to have a say in how government is involved in their life,” Katie Hugo said, “how much it’s involved.”
Tim and Katie Hugo both said they voted for Republican candidate Marco Rubio.
“Abortion was a very big issue for me,” Katie said, “eliminating abortion. I believe everyone has a right to life.”
Delegate Hugo has chaired Rubio’s Virginia campaign, and said he’s encouraged by the increased Republican turnout in other states’ primaries. “With all the excitement, the different candidates’ visits to Virginia, I’m expecting a bigger turnout,” he said.
When final results were announced, Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton each carried Virginia decisively. According to the Virginia Public Access Project’s unofficial results, Trump’s 352,833 (34.78 percent ) votes from across the Commonwealth bested closest competitors Marco Rubio’s 323,445 (31.88 percent ) and Ted Cruz’s 171,527 (16.91 percent ).
In Fairfax County, however, Rubio edged Trump with 51,211 votes (40.07 percent ) versus the flashy businessman’s 32,051 (25.08 percent ). John Kasich also moved ahead of Cruz in the County totals, with 22,480 votes (17.59 percent ).
On the Democratic side, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 497,581 total votes (64.34 percent ) dominated Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ 271,839 (35.15 percent ).
Numbers at the Fairfax County level were consistent with the rest of the Commonwealth, as Clinton’s 84,855 votes (63.15 percent ) handily defeated Sanders’ 48,798 (36.32 percent ). Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley was still on the ballot as they were printed before he exited the race -- he received 713 votes (.53 percent ).
ANTICIPATING HIGHER VOTER TURNOUT, Fairfax County Public Schools closed for the day, which election officers said helped prevent parking lot jams and kept hallways clear for voter foot traffic.
Bill Patterson of Springfield, assistant chief election officer at the West Springfield High School polling precinct, said 771 ballots had been cast as of about noon. “We didn’t know what to expect, but it’s been steady with little lines,” Patterson said. “But sixteen people were in line when we opened at 6.”
No school also meant students had the opportunity to participate in the major political event in other ways. For members of the West Springfield High School Junior class, that included setting up a large bake sale in front of the school to raise money for expenses when they become seniors.
Junior Michael Montoya is 17 now but will be 18 and eligible to vote in the November election.
“The economy is more important to me than ethical issues,” Montoya said. “If I had to choose, it would be between Rubio and Sanders. I prefer Rubio to other Republicans because he’s not as strict on immigration policy. Bernie is focused on climate change, which is something we need to address in the United States right now. But I bounce back and forth, I can’t affiliate with one party, and I don’t think that’s a horrible thing.”
South County High School senior Megan Clark is 18 already, and used part of her day off to vote at Silverbrook Elementary School.
“People make fun of younger people for not voting,” she said. “It felt important to represent the young population.”
Chief election officer at West Potomac High School Doris McBryde of Mount Vernon observed many parents bringing their children with them to the polls.
“They’re seeing their parents voting,” McBryde said, “and seeing the importance of it.”
IN PREPARATION FOR NOVEMBER, Fairfax County piloted a new voter sign-in procedure using Apple iPads to scan the voter’s driver’s license.
Former Board of Supervisors Chairman and current member of the Fairfax County electoral board Kate Hanley said 21 precincts tried the iPads Tuesday, with the hope of getting them in each precinct by the fall. And though the speedier technology should help keep waiting lines to a minimum, Hanley stressed there’s no replacement for a warm-blooded election officer.
“This is a big year,” Hanley said, referencing the November decision as the “Super Bowl” of elections. “We always need election officers. Voting is really the bedrock of American democracy. Facilitating it is an important part of civic duties.”
At the Clifton Presbyterian Church polling site, the iPads were working like a charm.
Election officer Steven Birk, a Clifton resident since 1988, appointed himself a greeter, asking voters to have their driver’s license out and ready to make the tablet scanning check in go even faster.
“It’s worked very well, very consistently,” Birk said of the pilot system. In addition to his regular election officer training, Birk said the new iPad-based program required another three-hour education session.
“They’re iPads, so they’re pretty intuitive,” said Chief Election officer Kerry Wilson of West Springfield.
For more information about working at a polling site, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/elections/working.htm.