Voter turnout low countywide but heavier in Varina District

UPDATED: Nov. 8, 4:07 P.M. – Voter turnout in Henrico County was sluggish as of 2 p.m., but voters in the Varina District were turning out in slightly higher numbers than their counterparts elsewhere in the county.

Turnout varied between 12 percent and 22 percent in the county's five magisterial districts as of mid-afternoon, Henrico Registrar Mark Coakley told the Citizen.

"It's been heavier in Varina, which we figured it would be," Coakley said. Varina District voters are choosing a supervisor from a three-candidate field – Republican incumbent Jim Donati, Democrat Tyrone Nelson and independent Reese Haller. Independent Gerald Baker also is running a write-in campaign.

In addition, voters in the Ninth Virginia Senate District, which includes Eastern Henrico, arrived at the polls to find a surprise name on signs – Eastern Henrico insurance agent Floyd Mays, who quietly launched a write-in campaign this week in an attempt to unseat Democrat Donald McEachin.

Countywide, most precincts witnessed steady traffic in the morning and a drop off in the afternoon, Coakley said.

"We expect it will pick up again at night once people go home and see coverage on the news," he said.

During the last local elections in 2007, about one quarter (24.75 percent) of the county's 175,000 registered voters cast ballots. This year, Henrico has almost 200,000 registered voters, Coakley said.

Aside from a morning glitch that affected 954 voters at 19 county precincts, Coakley said that the day had gone smoothly. That glitch resulted in the affected voters being told – incorrectly – that their precinct had changed, when in fact they had reported to the correct location.

County officials identified the errors immediately, Coakley said, and had the voters cast provisional ballots, which will count.

Some voters contacted the Citizen, confused about why the party affiliations of some candidates were listed while those of others were not. Coakley said that Virginia law forbids ballots from listing the party affiliation of any candidate for local office but requires the affiliation of candidates for state office to be listed.

So, while candidates for the General Assembly appeared on this year's ballot with their affiliations noted, candidates for the Board of Supervisors and Commonwealth's Attorney did not. (Candidates for School Board are not permitted to run with party affiliations.)
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