The Wash
Two election officials stand waiting to receive voters at the Walter Reed Community Center voting station. As of Monday, 63% of active voters either voted early or by mail. (Alex Lucas, The Wash)

Early voting ends in Arlington with record turnout.

Almost two-thirds of active voters in Arlington have voted before Election Day, a record compared to the number of votes before the 2016 general election. The county has historically voted for Democrats and as votes are counted, Biden and Democrats on the ballot have a huge lead in the race.

Over 2.8 million Virginians have cast ballots since early voting began on Sept. 18, either by early voting or by mail in ballot.

Although early voting ended on Oct. 31 after 45 days, five times the number of people voted early in 2020 compared to the 2016 general election.

Arlington was no exception as 105,048 voted early compared to 38,399 in 2016, according to data from the Virginia Public Access Project.

Voters who came out early were motivated because of fears over crowded polls and the coronavirus pandemic on election day.

Francisco Samayoa is a construction worker who was scheduled to work a 10 hour shift on election day.

He brought his niece and sister out to the Langston-Brown Community Center in Halls Hill, Arlington, to make sure they all cast their vote early.

The experience of coming to vote early was “easy, quick and painless and I wish more people would vote this way before election day,” Samayoa said.

Virginia voters are only required to show a form of identification like a passport, Virginia driver’s license or voter ID card to vote.

Those who are disabled were given the opportunity to vote curbside at any of the locations without getting out of the vehicle.

Some living near the five early voting stations showed up early because they wanted to make sure their vote was counted by voting in person.

Brian Hill, a father of two girls and a local resident, came to the Walter Reed Community Center in Columbia Heights, Arlington, to cast his ballot early.

“I originally planned to mail in my absentee ballot but I heard about the lack of efficiency with mail delivered by the post office and decided to bring the absentee ballot here and vote early,” Hill said.

The Arlington Office of Elections staffed 50 polling stations throughout the County on Election Day from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Cynthia Picard, a local election official, has been preparing for this election for over a year. She has hired many temporary hires, some volunteers, to process the mail in ballots and support voters at the polling stations. “The operations at the polling stations have gone incredibly smooth,” Picard said.

Beside the U.S. presidential contest on the ballot, the Senate race between Democrat-incumbent Mark Warner and Republican Daniel Gade, the Congressional race between Democrat-incumbent Donald Beyer and Republican Jeff Jordan and an Arlington Board of Supervisor and Arlington School Board member race are all on the ballot.

There are also two ballot initiatives on amending the Virginia constitution, one to include a redistricting commission consisting of citizens and law makers and the other to exempt disabled veteran vehicle tax.

Arlington voters will also have the opportunity to vote on five construction bonds related to the improvement of the community transportation, public school, community infrastructure and parks.

Jocelyn Flores, a 29-year-old Arlington resident, was eager to vote on Election Day at the polling station. Drew Community Center was one of 50 polling stations open on Election Day.(Alex Lucas / The Wash)
Jocelyn Flores, a 29-year-old Arlington resident, was eager to vote on Election Day at the polling station. Drew Community Center was one of 50 polling stations open on Election Day.(Alex Lucas / The Wash)

Jocelyn Flores is no exception. She lives in Columbia Park, a neighborhood in Arlington, and she walked to Polling Precinct 030 at the Drew Community Center. “I traditionally have taken the day off during Election Day to vote and I always vote Democrat,” Flores said.

“This election was no exception.”

Alex Lucas

Alex Lucas is a candidate on the broadcast journalism track in the American University School of Communication Journalism and Public Affairs Masters Degree program. He has a passion for news beat reporting in Arlington, Virginia. He is a native of Washington DC, currently residing in Gainesville Virginia.

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