High turnout in midterms as Dems retake House

by Quinton Sheppard - Posted on Nov 07, 2018 - 03:07 PM

Photo: Marsha Germek, left, and Debbie Wilson greeted voters as they entered into the Sarah’s Creek Precinct at Gloucester Point Baptist Church. By 10 a.m., the two said they had already seen over 500 voters cast their ballots. Photo by Quinton Sheppard

Marsha Germek, left, and Debbie Wilson greeted voters as they entered into the Sarah’s Creek Precinct at Gloucester Point Baptist Church. By 10 a.m., the two said they had already seen over 500 voters cast their ballots. Photo by Quinton Sheppard

Photo: Cynthia Shackelford, left, chief elector for the Chesapeake District in Mathews County, assists Corey Hall of Susan with his ballot. Hall is also assisted by his sister, Nikki Hall of Susan. Photo by Sherry Hamilton

Cynthia Shackelford, left, chief elector for the Chesapeake District in Mathews County, assists Corey Hall of Susan with his ballot. Hall is also assisted by his sister, Nikki Hall of Susan. Photo by Sherry Hamilton

Photo: Julian Goley said Tuesday was his first time voting. He cast his ballot at the Sarah’s Creek Precinct, which was located at Gloucester Point Baptist Church. Photo by Quinton Sheppard

Julian Goley said Tuesday was his first time voting. He cast his ballot at the Sarah’s Creek Precinct, which was located at Gloucester Point Baptist Church. Photo by Quinton Sheppard

Photo: Sterling Ransone of Cobbs Creek voted bright and early on Tuesday. Photo by Sherry Hamilton

Sterling Ransone of Cobbs Creek voted bright and early on Tuesday. Photo by Sherry Hamilton

Voters in Gloucester, Mathews and throughout the state turned out in large numbers for Tuesday’s midterm election; which ultimately handed over control of the U.S. House of Representatives to the Democrats, while Republicans maintained control of the Senate.

Locally, Republican Rob Wittman retained his seat as Virginia’s 1st Congressional District representative, capturing just over 55 percent of the district’s vote, defeating his Democratic opponent Vangie Williams. Statewide, Democrat Tim Kaine held onto his Senate seat, getting close to 57 percent of the overall vote, handily defeating Republican Corey Stewart and Libertarian candidate Matt Waters. 

In Gloucester, voter registrar Bobbi Morgan reported that voter turnout in the county Tuesday was at 57 percent, compared to around 42 percent in the last midterm election in 2014. “We are very pleased on the amazing turnout and want to say ‘thank you’ to our Gloucester County community for coming out to vote,” she said.

Morgan did report an issue election officials ran into where more voters than usual who had requested absentee ballots also showed up at the polls to vote. “This is a time-consuming process for both our election officers and the voter,” she said. “If the voter changes their mind and wants to vote at the polls on Election Day, they should return the un-voted ballot to our office before Election Day so we can remove the absentee ballot status.” This way, she said, the voter will avoid being pulled out of the line for election officials to research and adjust their status or be forced to use a provisional ballot.

Voter turnout in Mathews was even higher with Carla Faulkner, the voter registrar in that county, reporting that 65.75 percent of registered voters casting ballots at the polls. Tuesday’s turnout was an increase from 2014 when about 50 percent of voters turned out for the midterms.

Faulkner said the polls in Mathews ran “smoothly and efficiently” with no major issues. “Thanks to our election officials, our voters were educated and the lines were minimal,” she said. “We had a very busy day, but great turnout! As always, thank your election officials.”

Although Kaine won the overall vote statewide, his opponent, Stewart, captured an overwhelming majority of the vote in both Gloucester and Mathews. In both counties, Stewart received approximately 63 percent of the vote compared to Kaine’s 35 percent. 

In the House race, Wittman received 69 percent of the vote in both Gloucester and Mathews, while Williams received 31 percent of the vote.

Wittman thanked his supporters saying, “We won because of you.” He added that he is grateful to all who donated their time and money to volunteer with his campaign. “The work to continue to fight for the First District begins now,” Wittman added. “I am glad to have you standing with me.”

In her concession, Williams thanked everyone who voted for her and believed in her vision. “We still achieved something that has never been accomplished in this district before, and I am proud of the work we did,” she said. “We ran an incredible grassroots campaign and laid the groundwork for 2019.” 

She congratulated Wittman for a “hard-fought” campaign adding, “This is not the outcome we wanted or worked hard for, but it’s still important for us to come together as a nation and focus on what’s important.”

Both Constitutional amendments were overwhelmingly approved by a majority of voters. The first authorizes the General Assembly to allow localities to provide a partial tax exemption for real property that is subject to recurrent flooding, if improvements have been made on the property to address flooding.

The second allows the surviving spouse of a veteran who has been determined by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to have a 100 percent service-connected, permanent and total disability to continue to claim the tax exemption currently provided, even if the surviving spouse moves to a new principal place of residence that is owned by the surviving spouse.