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Martinsville, Virginia 24115
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Heavy voter turnout possible Tuesday
Forecasts based on absentee votes

Sunday, November 4, 2012

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer

Area registrars say they expect heavy voter turnout in Tuesday’s election based on large numbers of absentee ballots cast so far.

Voters will go to the polls to elect a president, vice president and some members of Congress, as well as decide if two state constitutional amendments should be enacted. Local races also will be decided in Martinsville and Stuart.

Presidential elections every four years have the highest turnouts, according to registrars. In November 2008, turnout was 71 percent in both Martinsville and Henry County and 72 percent in Patrick County, records show.

In Martinsville, “I feel like it might be a little bit better” this year, maybe 80 percent, said city Registrar Cindy Barbour.

That is because “we’ve had a steady flow of people since the first week of October” casting absentee ballots, Barbour said.

She did not have exact figures. However, she estimated that her office has handled an average of 10 to 15 absentee ballots per day.

Voters with whom she has talked “feel excited,” she said, about possibly re-electing someone they like or ousting someone they do not like.

As of Thursday, the Henry County Registrar’s Office had seen nearly 1,900 absentee ballots cast, according to Registrar Elizabeth Stone. That is not as many as the roughly 3,000 cast for the 2008 election, she said.

Still, this year’s absentee balloting so far “gives you some indication it’s going to be pretty heavy” turnout at the polls on Tuesday, Stone said.

Patrick County Registrar Susan Taylor also predicted high voter turnout on Tuesday. She said her office has received about 800 absentee ballots, which is comparable to the number received in 2008.

Saturday was the last day to vote as an absentee.

In each locality, voters will pick a president and vice president, respectively, from among the following pairs: Democratic incumbents Barack Obama and Joe Biden; Republicans Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan; Virgil Goode and Jim Clymer of the Constitution Party; Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala of the Green Party; and Gary Johnson and James P. Gray of the Libertarian Party.

Goode, of Rocky Mount, is a former longtime member of the U.S. House of Representatives who represented Virginia’s 5th District. He also has been a state senator. He was a Democrat before 2000 when he went independent. Two years later, he became a Republican and remained with that party until 2010 when he became affiliated with the Constitution Party.

Voters will choose either Democrat Tim Kaine or Republican George Allen — both former Virginia governors — to fill a U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Jim Webb, who did not seek a second six-year term.

Fifth District voters in Henry County will choose a U.S. House member from among incumbent Republican Robert Hurt, Democrat John Douglass and independent Kenneth Hildebrandt.

In the House race, 9th District voters in each locality have a choice of either incumbent Republican Morgan Griffith or Democrat Anthony Flaccavento.

Voters throughout Virginia also will consider state constitutional amendments on eminent domain — the process by which the government seizes property for its own use — and when General Assembly veto sessions can be held.

Martinsville voters will fill three Martinsville City Council seats up for grabs from among four candidates, including incumbents Mark Stroud and Danny Turner and political newcomers Sharon Brooks Hodge and Jim Woods.

Jay Engstrom’s name still is listed on the city ballot as a council candidate, although he pulled out of the race. If he gets any votes, they will not count, and the council race will be decided based on numbers of votes received by the remaining contenders, Barbour said.

This is the first council election in the city to be held in November. Council elections had been held in May, but they now are being held alongside state and federal elections to reduce costs and encourage more voter turnout.

Turnout in the May 2008 council election was 23.7 percent.

Now that council elections are being held with federal and state races in November, Barbour thinks the city races will attract more voters.

Yet “you’ll still have some (people) who don’t vote” for council candidates because they just are not interested in city government, she said.

In Stuart, Ray Weiland is running unopposed for mayor. Voters will choose two members for Stuart Town Council from among three candidates: Terry Dalton, Mac Deekens and Leon Puckett.

Voters throughout Patrick County will decide if the county should levy a 4 percent tax on food and drinks sold in restaurants.

Polling places statewide will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday.


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