Before Day Breaks, Virginians Turn Out for Big Vote

Tuesday, 02 Nov 2010 03:54 PM

By John Royall

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A fingernail moon shined in the black sky as the Waynewood Precinct opened at 6 a.m. today in the Mount Vernon District of Fairfax County, Va. In darkness, a dozen voters entered the 50-year-old Waynewood Elementary School, first to cast their votes for either Democratic freshman U.S. Rep. Gerald Connolly or first-time Republican candidate Keith Fimian, as well as lesser-known candidates from the Independent, the Independent Green Party, and the Libertarian parties.

Voting, Virginia, Washington, CongressThe near-freezing temperature propelled voters to move quickly from cars to the polling booths. The other issues on the ballot are three amendments to the Virginia constitution and one transportation bond for $120 million. The General Assembly has voted overwhelming twice in favor of the three constitutional amendments.

The Waynewood Precinct is on the original River Farm of George Washington’s estate in a middle-class neighborhood of 770 homes, 12 miles South of Washington, D.C. The houses were built on tenth-acre lots between 1958 and 1962.

A dozen or so original homeowners, now in their late 80s and early 90s, share the community with a broad demographic of second-generation owners and young families. Waynewood has been chosen 20 years in a row as one of the 10 most desirable neighborhoods in the greater D. C. metropolitan area — because of its proximity to schools, Alexandria, Arlington, a county hospital, and community amenities.

By 7:10 a.m., 70 voters had cast ballots. Fewer voters required sample ballots from either political party than in the election of two years ago — because all the candidates are running for just a single congressional seat.

Although midterm elections generally bring out fewer voters than in general election years, this one is drawing a greater number in the Mount Vernon District than usual. The nearby Fort Hunt Precinct had four times the voters at 6 o’clock as the Waynewood Precinct.

Although Waynewood traditionally has been a close race between Democrats and Republicans, the yard signs for the Republican candidate outnumbered signs for the Democrat candidate by 3-to-1 this year. All Republican voters interviewed expressed their confidence in recapture of the House. One independent voter expressed regret for voting what he called “the Marxist ballot” in the last election and stated he never would do so again.

A former Dick Gephardt congressional staffer who was working at the Democratic sample ballot booth stated his regret that the political parties have become so polarized.

When he came to Capitol Hill 20 years ago, freshman Democratic and Republican congressmen would often rent houses together. That, and cooperation between parties in proposed legislation, are things of the past. He also believes that Gephardt, the former Democratic majority leader, never would have abused taxpayers by having a 90-passenger personal airplane, as has current Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

If the voters in Waynewood are typical of the American voter in 2010, he says, Nancy Pelosi won’t have that 90-passenger personal airplane much longer.

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