Voter registration up in area localities
Posted: October 25, 2012
The Winchester Star
WINCHESTER — The 2008 presidential election brought a record number of registered voters, and even more area residents are registered to vote in the 2012 race, according to local election officials.
The biggest increase locally is in Frederick County, which has 14.4 percent more registered voters in its poll books than it did in 2008.
Oct. 15 was the last day to register to vote in the Nov. 6 election, headlined by the presidential race pitting President Barack Obama against GOP nominee Mitt Romney.
With the deadline passed, registrars in Winchester and Frederick and Clarke counties have spent recent days checking forms that were filed directly with the state or through state agencies to make sure they are correct and eligible to be added to the registered voter list.
As of Wednesday morning, Winchester had 15,511 registered voters — a 5 percent increase from the 14,769 who registered by Oct. 22, 2008 — with the Virginia Board of Elections. The city’s population, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, is 26,203.
Clarke County has 10,250 people registered to vote, a 7.4 percent increase over the 9,542 in 2008. Clarke has a population of 18,808.
Frederick County’s total of 51,942 compares to the 45,423 reported on Oct. 22, 2008. Frederick’s population is 81,391.
Virginia is one of the nine “most-contested” states in the nation in the battle for the presidency.
Winchester, which went for George W. Bush in 2004 and Obama in 2008, is considered one of 106 swing counties and cities across the country that could decide the election, according to the Associated Press.
The city, which has more registered voters than in any year dating to at least 2000, has added a few more poll workers — bringing its total to 99 — to assist residents on Election Day.
Winchester Voter Registrar Joyce Braithwaite said the race for the White House brings out more voters compared to other election years, when only U.S. congressional or state and local candidates are on the ballot.
“Some people only vote every four years,” Braithwaite said.
In 2008, some city polling places had long lines, she said, and some would-be voters told her they didn’t cast a ballot because of waits of up to an hour.
Since 2008, Winchester has split its First and Fourth wards into two precincts to make the procedure quicker.
The First Ward now has the Merrimans Precinct, voting at the First Christian Church at 75 Merrimans Lane, and the Old Town Precinct, voting at Christ Episcopal Church at 132 W. Boscawen St.
The Fourth Ward has the Frederick Douglass Precinct, voting at Frederick Douglass Elementary School at 100 W. Cedarmeade Drive, and the Rolling Hills Precinct, voting at Victory Church at 2870 Middle Road.
In Frederick County, Voter Registrar Rick Miller has increased the number of poll workers from 208 in 2008 to 215 for the upcoming election.
Frederick voters can find all the information they need about precincts and locations on the county’s website, www.co.frederick.va.us/voter_registrar/, Miller said.
Clarke County Voter Registrar Barbara Bosserman says she will split the poll books in the precincts with the most population — Russell, Berryville, Millwood, Buckmarsh and White Post — to try to get voters in and out as quickly as possible.
Having poll workers divide the alphabet in two parts when checking voters in keeps the lines moving, she said.
Clarke has 60 poll workers, about the same as 2008, Bosserman said. But this is the first year it will have election pages working at the polls. Local students have been invited to help by greeting voters, explaining the voter identification procedure, passing out sample ballots and offering other assistance as needed.
Though voter turnout is expected to be high, Frederick County’s Miller said he never makes predicitions.
But his peers in Winchester and Clarke were willing to take a stab at it.
Braithwaite, who described herself as an “eternal optimist,” is expecting a 68 or 69 percent turnout in Winchester.
In Clarke, Bosserman went even further.
“I expect between 78 and 80 percent,” she said.
To Clarke’s registered voters, she added, “Don’t disappoint me.”
— Contact Val Van Meter at email@example.com