Voter turnout, in spite of Tuesday’s sunny skies and mild temperatures, proved dismal for Tuesday’s Dual Primary Election in Culpeper County, though not the absolute worst in recent years.
By day’s end, with all 15 voting sites open 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., an estimated 10.5 percent of registered voters turned out to cast ballots selecting state office party nominees for the November election—3,387 of 32,815 people who could have voted.
Primary elections generally attract low voter turnout, but not always. For example, in the 2016 dual presidential primary, 32 percent of registered voters in Culpeper County came out to pick Hillary Clinton for the Democratic ticket and Donald Trump to represent the GOP.
The lowest primary turnout in Culpeper in the last five years was 7 percent in 2015’s state senate contest. The 2017 dual primary for governor attracted about 15 percent of registered voters in Culpeper while the turnout was almost 17 percent locally in the 2018 congressional dual primary.
The fact that Tuesday’s primary selected nominees for both Democrats and Republicans in three of Culpeper’s five General Assembly districts, including one that splits up the town, resulted in very low vote counts at some precincts as voters could only cast ballots for one party or the other.
In Lignum, for example, just seven votes were cast in the Democratic Primary for State Senate District 17, and at Brown’s Store, only nine. Former Charlottesville School Board Member Amy Laufer won her party’s nomination easily districtwide.
Meanwhile, at the town’s West Fairfax District, in the State Senate District 17 Republican Primary, incumbent Sen. Bryce Reeves got the most votes of any other precinct with 187, and he easily won his party’s nomination districtwide.
Town voters Jim and Paula Woehr, husband and wife, voted Democrat on Tuesday, and lamented the low turnout.
“Every time I run into people, whether it’s at a restaurant, or a neighbor’s, especially the young people, I will say, ‘I’m hoping you registered to vote’ and they will say, ‘yes,’ or maybe I scared them,” said Paula Woehr. “It’s so important to get the young people out to vote. This is very important, this is your state.”
Her husband concurred, acknowledging primary election interest is less.
“Because fewer people turn out, your vote has bigger impact,” said Jim Woehr.
June 11, in addition to being primary election day, was the deadline for local candidates to fill the necessary paperwork through the registrar’s office to run in the November election.
According to Culpeper County Registrar James Clements, the 2019 local candidates include the following individuals:
For sheriff: Scott Jenkins and C.J. Johnson; for commonwealth’s attorney: Paul Walther and Megan Frederick; for treasurer: Missy White, Alexa Fritz, Denise Whetzel and Aaron Mitchell; for commissioner of the revenue: Terry Yowell; and for Soil & Water Conservation District (two seats): Tom O’Halloran. The second seat is open and will be a write-in race;
Board of Supervisors: East Fairfax — Kathy Campbell and Ben Phillips; West Fairfax — Gary Deal; Catalpa — Paul Bates and Nate Clancy and Salem — Tami Coughlin and Tom Underwood.
School Board: Crissy Burnett and Ed Dunphy—West Fairfax; Pat Baker and Page Durham—East Fairfax; Janice Bates and Barbee Brown—Catalpa; and Anne Luckinbill—Salem.
Four at-large seats on Culpeper Town Council will be up for grabs in November. The candidates are: Keith Brown, Jamie Clancey, Hank Milans, Frank Reaves Jr., Bobby Ryan and Meaghan Taylor.