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Plan for the worst, hope for the best – that’s JCC General Registrar Dianna Moorman’s mantra leading up to Tuesday’s presidential primary.
General registrars in James City County, York County and the City of Williamsburg say they are gearing up for high turnout at the polls, but the precise number of voters remains uncertain.
Moorman said the county has ordered enough ballots for a 65 percent turnout, which she expects will be evenly distributed between the Republican primary and the Democratic primary.
Unlike the primaries in South Carolina, both Virginia primaries will be held on the same day.
Moorman said the registrar’s office considers turnout from previous presidential primaries as well as the number of registered voters in each precinct when ordering ballots.
Absentee turnout has been good so far, Moorman said – as of Friday afternoon, 609 people had voted absentee in-person, with 375 voting in the Republican primary and 234 voting in the Democratic primary in James City County. More than half of the absentee ballots mailed for both primaries had been returned, Moorman said.
While absentee turnout can be a good indicator for primary day, Moorman said turnout this year is still “up in the air.”
“This one seems to be an anomaly,” Moorman said of the election. “The trend seems like people will show up to the polls much more than absentee voting.”
She said the registrar’s office “rounds up” when it orders ballots, but if a precinct runs out, the registrar’s office can print extras using a special ballot printer.
“Plan for the worst, hope for the best and that generally keeps us out of trouble,” Moorman said.
Walt Latham, York County general registrar, said the county expects a high turnout and has ordered “a lot of ballots” for each primary.
“We ordered plenty of ballots for people to come and vote,” Latham said. “I suspect [turnout] is going to be very large.”
Williamsburg Voter Registrar Win Sowder said she does not know what turnout could look like but was surprised by how low absentee voting has been in the city. Students at the College of William & Mary cannot vote in the city unless it is their permanent residence, Sowder said.
“I think we will have a lot of voters but you couldn’t tell it by looking at the absentees,” Sowder said.
As of Friday afternoon, Democratic absentee ballots statewide were on track with 2008 primary numbers, while Republican absentee ballots exceeded 2012 primary numbers by nearly 1,000 votes, according to an email from the Virginia Department of Elections.
The polls open Tuesday at 6 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. Voters must bring a valid photo ID, which could be a Virginia driver’s license or another government ID.