Throughout Nelson County, election officials and residents reported high voter turnout and positive attitudes throughout Election Day on Tuesday, as voters made their choices for county commonwealth’s attorney, circuit court clerk, 5th Congressional District representative and president of the United States.
At several of the county’s largest polling places, precinct captains and campaigners reported a steady stream of voters throughout the morning and a rush of voters as polls opened at 6 a.m.
By noon, 47 percent of voters in Nelson County had cast their ballots, according to Registrar Jackie Britt. A total of 5,260 votes had been cast across the county out of 11,237 total registered voters by that time, according to Britt. At the Rockfish Valley Volunteer Fire Department, the only polling place in the county's North District and the largest precinct in the county, just more than 1,000 ballots had been cast for a turnout of 50 percent by noon. According to Britt, while there were some glitches early Tuesday morning, there were no major problems to report by noon. There were a few equipment issues, including a couple of jammed ballot machines, but all precincts opened on time and there were no pauses in voting.
“So far, so good,” Britt said, adding halfway through the day everything seemed to resemble a “typical Election Day.”
Nelson County Electoral Board Secretary Karen Catron said after visiting several precincts, the only issues she encountered were temporary traffic jams and some locations.
She added at each of her stops, she was happy with how “pleasant” voters and campaigners were, adding everyone she talked with was excited to campaign or vote.
“Everyone has good attitudes,” she said.
Jesse Rutherford, the brother of Daniel Rutherford, one of three candidates for Nelson County Commonwealth’s Attorney in Tuesday’s special election for the seat, said Republican and Democratic representatives at one precinct even took a selfie together.
“You can see Democrats and Republicans on each side and guess what? They don’t have fangs and you can have a nice conversation about things and we can be a community,” said Nicole Cober-Lake, a Nelson resident who said she voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton and Daniel Rutherford, a Republican.
At precincts in Lovingston, Shipman and Roseland, three of the largest precincts in the county, representatives from the Nelson County Republican and Democratic committees were well rep-resented.
Gail Troy, a member of the Nelson County Democratic Committee, aimed to get people to vote for commonwealth’s attorney candidate Jerry Gress, running as a Democrat; 5th Congressional District candidate Jane Dittmar and Clinton, though she was most adamant about the importance of casting a vote for president.
“I like seeing women run,” Troy said. “I don’t think men have done such a good job. I think we should let a woman have a shot. I’m looking forward to saying ‘madam president.’”
Pointing to a felt button she made to resemble Clinton’s logo, she said she was going to stop making pins at a certain point but ended up deciding “I’m going to keep making pins for the re-election.”
On the other side of the political aisle, the Locklear family made its annual trip to the Roseland precinct, where they stayed all day to volunteer for the Republican committee.
Kelly Locklear, a mom of four boys, decided four or five years ago to take her kids’ home-school curriculum outdoors, teaching them about civics and the election process by having them volunteer and pass out Republican literature each of the last few Election Days.
“I [want them to] have an actual experience of understanding of people that regularly show up, not just the people that vote but also the people that are working, … [and] for them to actually see that this really matters and to watch the process,” she said. “It’s just one more way for them to see what’s going on.”
Though 14-year-old Jeffrey Locklear is still years away from being able to vote, he said he’s enjoyed the hands-on learning experience over the past years.
“The earlier you start learning the more you know,” he said.
In addition to those campaigning for political parties, commonwealth’s attorney candidates Heather Goodwin and Daniel Rutherford each sent representatives to campaign for them at the polls. Goodwin had at least a couple people at polls while Rutherford had dozens across all the precincts, including his son, Lee, who was wearing a blue “vote for Daddy” T-shirt.
Daniel Rutherford representatives at the Carriage House said they believe the majority of people knew going into the polls about the contested race for county commonwealth’s attorney. But Jesse Rutherford added they had to ensure voters flipped the ballot over to see the choices in the commonwealth’s attorney and uncontested circuit court clerk races.
Inside the precincts, some election officials, like Shipman precinct captain Robert Campbell, returned to a job that is very familiar.
Campbell said he’s been working as an election official for 15 years, saying he enjoys the job and “seeing all my friends,” referring to the voters he sees year after year. He guessed he proba-bly knows 70 percent of people who vote at the precinct.
For Samantha Tibbs, a senior at Nelson County High School, Tuesday not only marked the first election she was able to vote in but also the first one she worked.
At the Lovingston precinct, Tibbs, who turned 18 last week, checked in voters all day. She said she first began to learn the details of the election process, including what happens at polling places on Election Day and what’s required of election officials, in her government class this year.
As part of that class, she and students in three other classes hosted a mock election about two weeks ago, which Tibbs said prepared her well for her duties on Election Day.
“I thought it was going to be hard [and] I kind of got nervous [at first],” Tibbs said, “… but it has been really easy. … It’s been fun. It’s long, but it’s really interesting and fun to actually get to know and understand [the process].”