Loudoun Enters Final Days of Voting

Loudouners are voting now for the next governor, lieutenant governor, Attorney General, seats in the Virginia House of Delegates, along the mayor and town council in Middleburg and Round Hill and a town council seat in Purcellville.

Read about the candidates for House of Delegates and in town elections.

And voters are now entering their last week to cast their ballots in a new Virginia where voting is something that happens over a period of weeks, rather than in one bonanza on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

People in Loudoun have taken advantages of changes in Virginia that made voting easier, with no-excuse absentee and early voting. As of Tuesday morning, Loudoun County Registrar Judy Brown said 22,160 people had voted early in person. And that count doesn’t include the people who are voting by mail.

She said there was even a short line that the morning, with space limited in the registrar’s office in Leesburg but plans to move into a larger space in the future.

The early voting numbers don’t compare to early voting during the pandemic year presidential election in 2020—but are far beyond anything before 2020.

“The thing to keep in mind there is the fact that prior to 2020, we didn’t have no-excuse absentee voting by mail and in person, so that has really I think played a big role in having more people coming out ahead of Election Day to participate,” Brown said. Early voting, it appears, is here to stay, now just part of the way Virginians vote.

Reporting, too, will be slightly different this year. Elections officers expect to be able to release early voting results soon after polls close at 7 p.m. on Nov. 2, and to display results broken up by in-person and mail-in voting.

Ideologies on the Ballot

Candidates for state offices have traded barbs and published ideas about a range of issues, ranging from unions, the minimum wage and attracting businesses, to gun violence, affordable housing and public safety. But as is often the case, the most heated debates have not just been about policy differences.

During a break from canvassing Monday night, Del. Wendy Gooditis (D-10), whose district covers much of southwestern Loudoun, repeated a common frustration especially among Democrats when asked about the biggest issues in this election.

“My question back would be, would you mean the real issues, or the pretend issues?” Gooditis said, pointing to polarizing campaign subjects such as Critical Race Theory, which administrators say is not taught in public schools.

“Is it a referendum on policy if lots of people are being told the wrong things about that policy? So how can it be a referendum on the policy if people are hearing so many lies about it that they don’t know what the actual policy is?” she said.

Democrats have sought to build on the work they’ve done since taking control of both chambers of the General Assembly along with the governor’s mansion as they campaign to hold onto power. They have pointed to Virginia’s lower death rate during the COVID-19 pandemic, expanding healthcare access to more people, expanding voting access, winning acclaim as one of the best states for business, and investments such as putting tens of millions toward expanding broadband, and affordable housing.

“For me, Trump’s name isn’t on the ballot, but his ideas are on the ballot, and what he stands for is on the ballot,” said southeastern Loudoun Del. Suhas Subramanyam (D-87). “And Glenn Youngkin said that himself.”

And he warned about flipping the General Assembly red while the COVID-19 pandemic is still going.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen next, but we do know we’ll be ready for it in a Democratic majority. I can’t say the same in a Republican majority,” he said.

Meanwhile Republicans have sought to cast Democratic leadership as both an economic and moral failure, and Loudoun has been at the center of that fight.

“Right now, what’s happening in the schools—and what’s happening statewide in all the schools—they’ve removed mandatory reporting in the schools, they’ve allowed boys to walk into girls’ bathrooms,” Republican candidate Scott Pio told Loudoun Chamber of Commerce members during a delegate forum Oct. 19. He referred to an incident that has kept Loudoun schools in national headlines and School Board meetings a battleground, in which a student sexually assaulted a girl in a girls’ bathroom, was transferred to another school, and assaulted another girl in a classroom. In addition to the failure to protect students, some critics have cited the incident to argue against state-mandated protections for transgender students, although it is not currently clear whether the student identified as transgender.

“I will be pulling my daughter out of the public school system in the next year if this isn’t fixed,” Pio said.

Republican Bob Frizzelle told the same event that the schools are creating new divides among people with their curriculum, and pointed to learning losses during pandemic-era school closures.

“Instead of focusing on that, I think the school districts have tended to focus on the new curriculum that we’ve rolled out, and I just wish that they’d spend more of the discretionary money on fixing a crisis than creating a new society,” Frizzelle said.

And whichever message sways Loudouners in the House of Delegates races, this will be the last chance to run in the districts as they are now—next time around, Loudoun will have new elections districts, and with a growing population, likely more power in Richmond.

State Campaigns Hit Loudoun

With exurban communities like Loudoun key to swinging statewide races, every candidate for statewide office has stopped by Loudoun—including, of course, the one who lives here.

Former governor Terry McAuliffe, who preceded Gov. Ralph Northam in the office is now seeking an unusual second term. The Constitution of Virginia does not permit its chief executive to serve consecutive terms, and it is unusual for a governor in modern history to serve twice—the last to do it was Miles Godwin, whose second term ended in 1978.

But Leesburg resident and incumbent Attorney General Mark Herring is going for an even more unusual third term, and if elected would be the first to do it since Abram Penn Staples, who left office in 1947 after the General Assembly elected him to the state Supreme Court.

They are joined on the Democratic ticket by cybersecurity specialist, candidate for lieutenant governor and Woodbridge Del. Hala S. Ayala (D-51), who previously helped Democrats flip the House of Delegates by defeating a Republican incumbent in 2017, the same year she helped organize the first Women’s March in Washington.

They face off against a Republican ticket hoping to break up an all-Democratic-majority government. Former private equity firm co-CEO and first-time candidate Glenn Youngkin; businesswoman, veteran and former homeless shelter director Winsome Sears; and attorney and Virginia Beach Del. Jason Miyares (R-82) are running for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general, repectively.

The Democrats have sought to turn the work of the past two years and successive governorships into another term in control of state government. McAuliffe’s campaign has touted the state’s repeated listing by CNBC as the best state to do business in America, the sinking unemployment and 200,000 new jobs brought to Virginia during his previous tenure, and restoring voting rights to more than 200,000 people. McAuliffe has said there’s more work to do on expanding education, prescription drug prices, expanding healthcare, and cracking down on gun violence, among other priorities.

Meanwhile the Republicans have cast McAuliffe as a career politician, and Youngkin as a political outsider and a fresh alternative with successful business experience. They point to Virginia’s slower recovery from the pandemic compared to other states, and Youngkin has promised to eliminate the grocery tax, provide a one-time tax rebate, requiring voter approval for property tax increases, and cutting income taxes.

The top of the ticket has pitted two immensely wealthy men against each other—though one holds riches on completely different scale. While financial disclosures indicate McAuliffe could be worth more than $10 million, Youngkin’s wealth is in the hundreds of millions, with real estate scattered across the country including, through he and his wife’s private charitable foundation, the 358-acre Delta Farm near Middleburg. Youngkin has poured millions of his own money into the race.

And former president Donald Trump has loomed over the race. McAuliffe has sought to tie Youngkin to Trump, likely helped by Trump’s endorsement of Youngkin; while Youngkin has sought to tread a line short of outwardly embracing Trump but not angering his supporters in the Republican base.

The race has been tight, with polls giving McAuliffe the slimmest of leads or calling it a tie in the closing weeks of the campaign—well within the margins of error.

Election Day Approaches

The last day to vote early in person will be Saturday, Oct. 30. There are now in-person voting sites at four locations across the county—the Government Center in Leesburg, the government offices on Ridgetop Circle in Sterling, the Dulles South Recreation Center in Chantilly, and the Carver Senior Center in Purcellville—and drop-off boxed for absentee ballots at those buildings and Loudoun County Public Libraries. The deadline to request an absentee ballot by mail has now passed, but they may be dropped off at those boxes through Oct. 30, and at the Office of Elections until polls close on Election Day. If mailed, they must be postmarked no later than Election Day.

The locations and hours for early voting are online at loudoun.gov/voteearly. Absentee ballots can be dropped off at more than a dozen locations in Loudoun listed at loudoun.gov/voteathome. Voters can check where to vote on Tuesday on their voter registration cards or online at vote.elections.virginia.gov. A list of polling places in Loudoun is available at loudoun.gov/polls. In-person voters will be asked to show a photo identification such as a Virginia DMV-issued driver’s license. They should also wear a face covering as COVID-19 precaution.

On Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 2, polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

3 thoughts on “Loudoun Enters Final Days of Voting

  • 2021-10-28 at 3:23 pm

    This election is so important. I hope all eligible voters participate. In my estimation, Glenn Youngkin is simply awful. He shoots from the hip, with little or no regard for the truth. Just look at his publicity stunt, urging the entire school board to resign. Forty-two of his minions repeated that ridiculous exhortation at Tuesday’s board meeting. Apparently, they didn’t care that Andrew Hoyler wasn’t even on the school board when the rape scandal occurred. (Fortunately, Mr. Hoyler has assured folks on his Facebook page that he most definitely will not be resigning.) Please vote Loudoun!

    • 2021-10-30 at 10:43 am

      So you don’t consider McAuliffe supporters posing as white supremacists a publicity stunt? And you believe Terry had nothing to do with that just because he said so? It’s pretty clear which candidate is resorting to desperate measures based on poll numbers. And those parents you refer to as “minions” have been voicing legitimate concerns long before this election was a part of it. Just because you don’t believe it doesn’t mean it’s not true. There can be no denying the single issue on the ballot is education, and Covid did nothing but reveal what we as parents weren’t seeing until virtual learning exposed it for us. It’s the new “woke.”

  • 2021-10-30 at 11:07 am

    I sincerely hope that yesterday’s attempted racist smear of Glenn Younkin (R) in Charlottesville by allies of Terry Mcauliffe (D) won’t have any real impact on the governor’s race.

    That was a disgusting move.

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