The Observer’s blog from throughout the 2011 Virginia vote featuring updates on election results and highlights from Virginia Votes, the Observer’s live election day broadcast.
8:51 p.m. EST
Reporter Michael Harris just joined anchor Erica Morrison on set to talk about voter identification laws across the nation. Virginia is one of 34 states that considered expanding or implementing voter ID laws this year.
Michael said the people that would be hurt most by voter ID legislation are the poor and minorities.
Updates from Jimm:
The election edition of the American Observer doesn’t stop after tonight! What to expect tomorrow:
Don’t forget to check @AUObserver for election results!
8:40 p.m. EST
Reporter Brittney Hood just joined David Schultz on set to talk about her experience at a polling place in Alexandria.
Updates from Jimm:
Last segment coming up next. Stay tuned!
8:25 p.m. EST
Reporter Maria Hallas was just on camera talking about House District 34, which is an open seat. Aside from not having an incumbent running, the District is also interesting because a majority of voters voted for Obama in 2008 and then voted for Republican candidate (and now governor) Bob McDonnell in the Virginia governor’s race in 2009.
Highlights from Maria:
Results update from Jimm: 30% of precincts are reporting for Senate District 31 . Jimm Phillips classified this as a swing district.
Barbara Favola (D)– 72.72%
Caren Merrick (R)–26.99%
Additional information about District 31
8:10 p.m. EST
Reporter Alex Murray just came on the show. Highlights of what she said:
Updates from Jimm:
Election results are slowly coming in. No races to be called yet.
7:45 p.m. EST
Polls closed about 45 minutes ago. Our live broadcast starts in 15 minutes! Get ready!
Hosted by David Schultz and Erica Morrison, we will have four segments with different reporters who went out this week to talk to voters and candidates. The show will also have updates on election results from Jimm Phillips, polling analyst.
The first segment features reporter Alex Murray, who shadowed Virginia state Senate candidate Tom Gordy to see how he campaigned for votes in District 29.Gordy has a tough challenge, facing incumbent Charles Colgan, who has been in the state Senate for 35 years.
Additional coverage: “Colgan faces unexpectedly strong challenge in Prince William Senate race” via The Washington Post
6:40 p.m. EST
Reporter Vanessa Haces-Gonzatti talks about what it was like reporting from Arlington County this morning. For more, check out her and Arushi Sharma’s article on voters’ views.
It was a beautiful sunny and chilly morning in Ashton Heights, part of Arlington County in Virginia. Voters at Clarendon United Methodist Church, a suburban polling place, were rushing in and out before heading to work.
As many predicted, there was low voter turnout this morning. Little or no lines were the norm throughout rush hour.
Richard Mufley, the election chief for this voting center, said everything was running smoothly and that they weren’t expecting a lot of people.
“Jobs” and “economy” were the most thrown-around words as voters talked about the primary issues that concern them.
Transportation and other public services were also floating around the fall air, but with less emphasis.
What the Democratic and Republican party seem to be concerned about, though –the two-seat difference in the state Senate that could pair things up or give the upper hand to the latter– doesn’t appear to be on voters’ minds as much.
Apparently, partisan politics are not as essential in this race as the creation of jobs is.
5:30 p.m. EST
As Rachael noted earlier, the Twitter buzz about the Virginia elections has been minimal so far, but coverage by both local and major news outlets has been steady and informative. A recent Post article reported that turnout is expected to be low, but the stakes are high.
Read related articles from the Post about:
Also, read an article from the Huffington Post about Virginia’s Republican governor, Bob McDonnell, and what he stands to gain from the election.
And finally, an article from hyperlocal site Manassas Patch about how voter turnout has been steady.
Stay tuned for election results! With just an hour left until the polls close, excitement is running high in the newsroom.
4:11 p.m. EST
I’m serving as the Observer’s wire editor and will be the Senior Elections Analyst for tonight’s live broadcast. I’ll be hard at work all night calling races as results come in – and I’ll try to put them into context with the election as a whole.
Along with the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate races, I’m also monitoring other elections that may tell us something about voters’ moods going into 2012. A ballot initiative in Ohio would overturn the state’s controversial law limiting unions’ collective bargaining rights, while a constitutional amendment in Mississippi would define a fertilized human egg as a person – a de facto ban on all abortions in the state.
The Ohio measure will give us a clue about whether voters in a crucial 2012 swing state are willing to go along with the Republican-led government’s policies – and it will serve as an indicator of whether Democrats will be able to gain traction on the issue going into next year. If Mississippi’s measure passes, it may give Republicans an incentive to introduce similar legislation in other states – especially the swing ones – to turn out their base in 2012.
Our analysis team is taking great care as we decide when to call races – we will wait until at least 50 percent of precincts report in and two reliable media sources have also project a winner.
In the meantime, I am doing extensive reading on the races Observer reporters covered today so I can give you the best possible analysis this evening. I look forward to our conversation!