The Score Special Report: Election Day in Charlottesville and Albemarle
The City of Charlottesville, Virginia, is a deep blue island in a sea of red in the state’s Fifth Congressional District. Hillary Clinton won more than 79 percent of the votes here in 2016, when Donald Trump barely exceeded 13 percent. In 2012, Barack Obama won almost 76 percent to Mitt Romney’s 22 percent.
If Democratic candidate Leslie Cockburn wants to win the Fifth District House seat currently held by Republican Tom Garrett, who is retiring after one term, she must do extremely well in Charlottesville and surrounding Albemarle County.
And, as it turns out, voter turnout is approaching record levels in Charlottesville. I spoke to Jon Bright, vice chairman of the city’s electoral board, who said turnout was exceeding expectations.
Charlottesville’s general registrar, Rosanna Bencoach, told me that the number of registered voters has increased since 2016.
By one o’clock PM today, voter turnout had already exceeded the number that turned out to vote in 2014, the last midterm election.
She also had heard from her colleagues around Virginia that voter turnout numbers had increased from previous elections.
Albemarle County, which completely surrounds the city of Charlottesville (oddly, the independent city of Charlottesville is the county seat of Albemarle County) has quickly transformed from a reliably Republican locality to more strongly Democratic. Twenty years ago, most local elected officials were Republican. Today, no member of the county Board of Supervisors is a Republican and only the sheriff and commonwealth’s attorney had an R next to their names in the last local elections.
In 2012, Albemarle County gave more than 55 percent of its votes to Barack Obama. In 2016, Hillary Clinton took nearly 59 percent while Donald Trump was just shy of 34 percent.
I spoke to Albemarle County’s general registrar, Jake Washburne, who has held that post since 2006. He reported that the number of registered voters has grown since last year.
He said that the pattern of voter turnout by one o’clock pm forecasts a possibility that total turnout will exceed the previous recent record for turnout in a midterm election, which was set in 2010.
By the time you hear this, the total turnout numbers for 2018 will probably be known. The results are another matter. We may be waiting quite a while in some of the highly-contested races, including the one here in Virginia’s Fifth Congressional District.