By Gus Cross
For Election Day on Tuesday, some local election officials are expecting a larger turnout than usual for this gubernatorial race.
In Rockbridge County, the number of registered voters has increased. In 2009, 13,512 residents were registered to vote. That number increased to 13,755 in 2013 and currently there are 14,345 registered voters in Rockbridge County.
Voter turnout did decrease from 55 percent in 2009 to 52 percent in 2013. Because of this, Rockbridge County Registrar Marilyn Earhart was not sure whether this year’s election would see a greater turnout of Rockbridge County voters.
According to Jan Yowell, Lexington voter registrar, the number of Lexington residents registered to vote has significantly increased over the years.
In 2009 the number of registered voters was 3,288 and increased to 3,923 in 2013. The number of registered voters in Lexington is currently 3,879. While the number of registered voters has slightly decreased, the past non-gubernatorial elections have seen higher turnout and Yowell expects a larger voter turnout than for previous gubernatorial elections.
In Buena Vista, the number of registered voters has also decreased since the last gubernatorial election. However, the Buena Vista Voting Registration Office has received a 40 percent increase in absentee voter ballot requests, a sign of significantly higher turnout on Election Day, according to Buena Vista Voting Registrar Emilie Staton.
In light of claims of voter fraud and worries about poll hacking during the election last November, the entire state of Virginia is turning to scannable paper ballots for elections. Voters will “bubble in” their choice for each office and then scan their ballot on an electronic device that will collect the digital votes for a final tally.
The physical ballots will be collected and stored in case a recount of votes is needed because of poll hacking or other fraudulent voting practices. Earhart said that voters should make sure they completely fill in the bubble on the ballot, especially if a voter is writing in a candidate.
The registrar offices for Buena Vista, Lexington and Rockbridge have all seen an increasing number of visitors as voters seek to find the information they need for election day and find their voting precincts.
There are four offices on the ballots for Buena Vista, Lexington, and Rockbridge County – Governor of Virginia, Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, Attorney General of Virginia, and Virginia’s 24th District House of Delegates seat. Running for Governor are Edward (Ed) W. Gillespie (R), Ralph S. Northam (D), and Clifford D. Hyra (L). Running for the Lieutenant Governor seat are Justin E. Fairfax (D) and Jill H. Vogel (R). The two candidates running for Attorney General are John D. Adams (R) and Mark R. Herring (D). Running for the 24th District House of Delegates seat are incumbent Ben L. Cline (R) and John C. Winfrey (I).
Lexington and Buena Vista have multiple offices on the ballot in addition to these larger offices, and depending on the district, Rockbridge County has a few offices on the ballot as well. Here is everything voters in Buena Vista, Lexington, and Rockbridge County that voters need to know when they go to vote:
There are seven offices on the ballot, other than the gubernatorial and House of Delegates offices, registered voters will be able to vote on – Buena Vista’s commonwealth’s attorney, sheriff, commissioner of revenue, treasurer, mayor, three city council seats, and four school board seats.
Running for mayor are William H. Fitzgerald and incumbent Larry F. Tolley. Running for commonwealth’s attorney are Jared L. Moon (R), currently an assistant commonwealth’s attorney in Lexington, and incumbent Christopher B. Russell (I). There are only two people on the ballot for the three city council seats, incumbent Melvin Henson and Daniel (Danny) Staton. Because there are only two people running for the three seats, the third seat will be selected based on write-ins. Running for the school board are John S. Butler, Lisa B. Kerr, Roy E. Mohler, John H. Rice and John S. Roberts. All candidates except for Butler are already serving on the school board and Rice is currently serving as the chairman of the board.
The offices of commissioner of sheriff, revenue and treasurer each have only one candidate running. They are incumbents W. R. (Randy) Hamilton, Mar Vita L. Flint and Mary Lee Huffman, respectively.
Registered voters in Buena Vista not submitting an absentee ballot will be able to vote at the municipal building from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m.. The municipal building is located at 2038 Sycamore Ave. According to Staton, the least busy times to vote are from 10:00-11:30 a.m. and from 1-3 p.m., times when most people are at work and are not on their lunch break.
There are three offices other than the three statewide offices and the House of Delegates seat on the ballot in Lexington – clerk of court, commissioner of revenue and treasurer.
The clerk of court office is a position for both Lexington and Rockbridge County and will be elected from registered voters from both municipalities. The former clerk of court, Bruce Patterson, stepped down from his position two years into his eight-year term. The election for clerk of court is a special election to fill the seat for the next six years until the next regular election in 2023. Running in the officially non-partisan election are Dennis W. Ayers, who identifies himself as a Democrat, Michelle M. Trout (I) and David C. Whitesell.
Incumbent Karen Telling Roundy is running unopposed for commissioner of revenue and incumbent Patricia S. DeLaney is running unopposed for treasurer.
The voting in Lexington will take place at the Piovano Building at 350 Spotswood Drive from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m.. Yowell said the least busy time to vote is in the evening as most people come in the early morning, during their lunchbreaks and in the afternoon when they get off of work. Yowell also said this year her office will be having a volunteer count the number of voters in line every hour on the hour and will send the numbers to the Bipartisan Policy Center to have a better understanding of when most people come to vote.
All five districts in Rockbridge County will be voting for the Rocbkridge County/Lexington Clerk of Court. Running for this position are Dennis W. Ayers, Michelle Moore Trout and David C. Whitesell. This is a special election as the former clerk, Bruce Patterson, stepped own two years into his eight-year term. The elected candidate will be in office for six years before the next election in 2023.
The Buffalo and Natural Bridge districts of Rockbridge county have no elections this year other than the three statewide offices and the election for the 24th District of the House of Delegates. The Buffalo district has four voting precincts –
- Lexington Baptist Church , 75 Old Farm Road
- Ben Salem Community Building, 14 Ben Salem Lane
- the Natural Bridge Fire House, 5705 S. Lee Highway
- the Effinger Fire House, 2824 Collierstown Road.
Natural Bridge voters can vote at
- the Glasgow Library, at 1108 Blue Ridge Road
- at the Natural Bridge Christian Church, 21 Gilmores Mill Road
- Natural Bridge Fire House, 5705 S. Lee Highway.
Kerrs Creek residents will vote for a new member of the Rockbridge County Board of Supervisors and their representative on the Rockbridge County School Board in addition to the three statewide offices and House of Delegates election. Running for the board of supervisor position are Steven D. Hart, Daniel E. Lyons and Susan H. Lawrence. Running for the school board are Heather C. Hostsetter and incumbent Laurie A. Strong. Voters in Kerrs Creek can vote at
- The Effinger Fire House, 2824 Collierstown Road
- The Kerrs Creek Fire house, 2880 W. Midland Trail
- The Life Chapel, 70 Hines Lane.
Residents of the South River district will vote on their representative school board member as well. Running for that position are Corey W. Berkstresser and incumbent Kevin A. Brooks. Voting for South River residents will take place at
- The South River Fire House, 5842 N. Lee Highway
- Neriah Baptist Church, 1891 Old Buena Vista Road
- Vesuvius Community Hall, 53 Tye Pine Ave.
In the Walkers Creek district, voters will select a new representative for the Rockbridge County Board of Supervisors. On the ballot are Richard J. Kopp and Albert “Jay” J. Lewis II. Voters can cast their votes at
- The Goshen Fire House, 9696 Maury River Rd.
- The Faith Mt. Baptist Churchm 270 Valley Pike
- The Rockbridge Baths Fire Dept. 5024 Maury River Road
- The Fairfield Rescue Squad Building, 5885 N. Lee Highway.
Residents of Glasgow will be voting for their mayor. Running for mayor are Ruby Ogden Clark, Ray “Shorty” Berkstresser and Lynda M. Norris Miller. Glasgow residents will also vote for three city council members. Only two candidates are on the ballot, Andrea R. Bradley and Monica J. Dock. The voting Precinct for Glasgow is at the Glasgow Library, 1108 Blue Ridge Road.
Rockbridge County Registrar Marilyn Earhart said that the best times for voting vary depending on the precinct and other factors. Because of that, she said she could not give an accurate guess for when the best voting times would be and is not sure if the voting turnout for this year will be higher than previous elections. The Rockbridge County voting precincts will be open from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m.