Arlington election officials expect to need about as many workers for the November 2022 election as they had for November 2021, and based on past levels of interest and results of a new survey, do not expect to have trouble filling the slots.
Ninety-six percent of those who worked the Nov. 2 election said they would come back, according to a post-election survey conducted by the county’s election office, while 88 percent of respondents rated the election chief of their precinct highly.
“That’s encouraging,” Arlington elections chief Gretchen Reinemeyer said at a Nov. 30 Electoral Board meeting.
The elections office used 433 officers of election for the 2021 season, and “it’ll be around the same” for the coming year, although it could rise slightly if Arlington’s 54 precincts expand to 55 next year.
In the 2020 presidential election, a total of 700 officers of election were recruited. And somewhat perversely, during the pandemic era, the elections office has seen an increase in those seeking to serve as election officers at the polls – perhaps out of a sense of civic duty.
“Our retention is pretty high,” Reinemeyer said. “We have more interest than we have spaces available” – so much so that the elections office tries to select first-timers for each new election, so they have a chance.
(A large majority of those responding to the after-election survey said they felt as much was done as possible to provide a safe environment at the polls, Reinemeyer said.)
The Nov. 30 Electoral Board meeting was the first chance for local officials to parse the data after catching their breath. About 95,000 voters cast ballots, a record in Arlington for a gubernatorial election and, at 62 percent, second only to the 1989 governor’s election in terms of percentage of voters who cast ballots.
It was, all things considered, “a very well-run election,” said Electoral Board chair Matt Weinstein.
“The flow was pretty steady all day,” Weinstein said of Nov. 2 voting, which accounted for about half the total number of ballots cast in Arlington. The other half came from those who mailed in their ballots, deposited them in dropboxes or voted early at three sites.
Arlington Democrats ran the table in 2021 races, winning County Board, School Board and House of Delegates campaigns with ease and providing large (albeit not large enough) margins for the party’s statewide ticket.
Republicans, however, found some reason to cheer, too, as the Arlington electorate swung back to the GOP by more than 5 percent after some had abandoned it during the Trump era.
Panic seemed to set in among the Democratic establishment toward the end of the race, as gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe flailed in attempting to find a message that resonated with Virginia’s electorate. As a result, Democrats began beating the bushes for every available voter in the last days, likely contributing to a last-minute surge in early voting.
“It just took off,” Weinstein said of early voting during the last two weeks of the election, following a “really slow start” in the preceding weeks.