In Virginia, where we have elections every year, you’d think we’d have the operation down pat by now. Voters should know where and when to vote—since the polling stations rarely change and 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. hours never do. Election dates change slightly each year and, of course, elective offices and issues change each year but are public knowledge months in advance, aren’t they? Or are they?
On Tuesday, June 12, there were Republican and Democratic primaries around the Commonwealth. Voters don’t register by party affiliation in Virginia, but Republican and Democratic parties do hold separate primaries. In Fairfax County on June 12, the Republicans held a primary election in both the 10th Congressional District and the 11th Congressional District (CD). In the 10th District, Republicans had a choice between incumbent Representative Barbara Comstock and one opponent for the congressional seat, and a choice among three candidates to be the Party nominee to tackle incumbent US Senator Tim Kaine (D) in November. No Republicans stepped up to run against incumbent Rep. Gerry Connolly (D), so they had no contest in the 11th district to run against Connolly.
The Democrats, on the other hand, had no primary at all in the 11th CD because incumbent Rep. Connolly (D) had no opponent, and incumbent Senator Kaine also was unopposed. Yet, thousands of Democrats were unaware of this.
I served as an Election Officer in the 11th district and, since there was no Democratic Party primary, I was asked to serve as a translator and Election Officer in the Republican Primary—for me a task above and beyond the call of duty! However, since the Office of Elections attempts to staff the polls 50-50 with representatives of the two major parties I figured I’d have kindred spirits at the 11th district precinct in Herndon where I was assigned. That didn’t work out as I had expected. There were five election officers at my assigned precinct, three identified as Republicans and one other guy who was listed as a Democrat, but was a Fox News watcher along with his hardcore R spouse.
A long day indeed. Election officers are required to arrive by 5 a.m. to set up and must remain until the votes are counted and certified at the end of the day—9:30 p.m. (16+ hours as it turned out). It was, however, interesting. To my surprise, fully one-half of those who turned out to vote were Democrats, very anxious to vote and unaware there was no D Primary. I’m thinking they thought it important to vote to assure that the forces of Trump would lose in November. Yet, they were short on information about who was on a nonexistent Democratic ballot. Surely Gerry Connolly or Tim Kaine had competition for their seats? The vast majority of these out of place Democrats left without voting, promising they would vote in November. Some, however, decided to go ahead and vote in the Republican primary for motives of their own--duty or mischief.
It was disappointing to see Democrats with good intentions so ill informed. I kept wondering why Fairfax County did not do a better job of informing voters about the elections, instead of leaving it to the parties and the candidates. Obviously, neither the Democratic Party nor incumbents Connolly and Kaine made much of an effort to inform voters there was no primary. The Republican Party didn’t do much better. Many Republicans who showed up also didn’t seem aware of exactly what/who they had come to vote for.
Seriously folks, why is it that so many eligible voters pay so little attention to electoral processes that they haven’t a clue on Primary day? Is it really any wonder we have the unmitigated disaster we have in Washington—in the White House and both sides of Congress? And in state and local governments as well.
MORE BAD NEWS: The 4-4 tie on the Reston Association Board stalling the election of a new President is about to be broken with the selection by Supervisor Hudgins and Reston apartment owners of a replacement for David Bobzien, who resigned due to illness. Sadly, I understand the likely replacement is already a Hudgins political appointee and a cheerleader for her proposal to increase zoning density limits. He will cast the deciding vote for an RA President who shares his views on zoning at a time when RA has a lead role negotiating with the County the fate of Ms. Hudgins’ very proposal to sharply increase Reston’s zoning intensity.