Director of Elections: ‘Tons of people are voting’ absentee
While Election Day — Tuesday, Nov. 6 — is right around the bend, a good number of the 5,847 registered voters in Rappahannock won’t step foot in the county’s six polling stations. For once, that’s not such a bad thing.
“Tons of people are voting,” Rappahannock County Director of Elections Kimberly McKiernan tells this newspaper, referring to absentee and in-person absentee voting that began on Sept. 21.
In other words, if there’s as much enthusiasm among the voting public on Election Day, as McKiernan has witnessed in her office with absentee voting, it could well be a banner year for voter turnout.
Also consider that since this date last year, Rappahannock County has 166 newly registered voters — an impressive number given the county’s small and stagnant population.
And voters continue to show up to cast ballots at the county election office on Courthouse Row (one of the tiny red brick buildings). The last opportunity to vote in-person absentee is Saturday, Nov. 3, and the office will also be open Saturday, Oct. 27. Monday through Saturday hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. An acceptable photo ID is required to vote.
That said, not everybody is eligible to vote in-person absentee. And those who think they are eligible had better supply supporting information, required by the county and state.
Eligible absentee voters include students attending college; residents working outside the county on Election Day; people leaving the county on personal business or vacation; first responders including law enforcement and firefighters; those suffering from disabilities and illness; criminal suspects confined and awaiting trial or else serving time for misdemeanors; those with religious obligations; members of the armed forces on active duty; county citizens living outside the U.S.; and finally pregnant women (supporting information “not required”).
From a Rappahannock trivia standpoint, right now there are 30 county residents residing overseas who are eligible to vote absentee, with another 12 citizens off serving in the U.S. military.
Otherwise, of the 5,847 registered voters in the county, 1,247 of them poll in the Washington precinct; the Amissville precinct finds 1,175 voters; there are 1,092 voters in the Sperryville precinct; the Scrabble precinct has 1,129 voters; Chester Gap’s precinct has 528 voters; and the Flint Hill precinct 681 voters.
The town of Washington, meanwhile, is home to 117 registered voters who will vote separately this year for a new mayor, town council, and treasurer.
Both town and county voters, at the same time, will select a U.S. senator, a first-time member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and vote up or down on two proposed Constitutional Amendments.
The U.S. Senate candidates are incumbent Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine, Republican Corey Stewart, and Libertarian Matt Waters. As for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 5th district of Virginia including Rappahannock County, candidates are Democrat Leslie Cockburn and Republican Denver Riggleman.
Fred Catlin is running unopposed for the mayoral seat in Washington, as the current Mayor John Fox Sullivan opted not to seek a third term in office. Similarly, Gail Swift is running unopposed for town treasurer.
For Washington Town Council, a slate of seven candidates for five open seats includes: Bradley Schneider, Jerry Goebel, Mary Ann Kuhn, Patrick O’Connell, Henry Gorfein, Joseph Whited, and Katharine Weld Leggett. (The Rappahannock News will carry bios and positions of all the town’s candidates in the Nov. 1 edition).
In addition, there are two proposed Constitutional Amendments for county residents to vote yea or nay this election year:
Question 1: Should a county, city, or town be authorized to provide a partial tax exemption for real property that is subject to recurrent flooding, if flooding resiliency improvements have been made on the property?
Question 2: Shall the real property tax exemption for a primary residence that is currently provided to the surviving spouses of veterans who had a one-hundred percent service-connected, permanent, and total disability be amended to allow the surviving spouse to move to a different primary residence and still claim the exemption?
Finally, requests for absentee ballots to be mailed domestically or overseas must be received in Rappahannock County by Tuesday, Oct. 30. The deadline, at the same time, has passed — last Monday — to register to vote, or update an existing registration.
Remember that polling hours on Election Day are 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.