Courthouse referendum defeated by voters

Published 8:21 pm Tuesday, November 7, 2017

by Stephen H. Cowles and Stephen Faleski

Voters in Southampton County and Franklin let it be known at the polls on Tuesday they did not want a new courthouse. The referendum to relocate the courthouse from its current location in downtown Courtland to property on Camp Parkway was defeated soundly. A total of 6,465 “no” votes (75.24 percent) were cast while only 2,128 voters (24.76 percent) said “yes.” Individually, both Franklin (64.75 percent) and Southampton voters (79.54 percent) turned out in opposition to the referendum.

For the delegates’ race, the region said yes to Emily Brewer, the Republican candidate for the 64th District in the House of Delegates. With all precincts reporting, she won 19,216 (62.42 percent) votes over the 11,564 (37.5 percent) for Democratic challenger Rebecca Colaw, both of Suffolk. Brewer will succeed Del. Rick Morris, also a Suffolk Republican, who announced earlier this year he would not seek a third term.

Windsor voters make their selections. — Stephen Faleski | Tidewater News

Del. Roslyn Tyler (D-75), who ran unopposed in her district, had 16,227 votes (94.34 percent). 974 write-in votes (5.66 percent) were cast for other candidates.

Although the weather had been less than ideal, the ballot choices had apparently been important enough to draw people to the polls.

Lynn Burgess, registrar for Southampton County, said voter turnout late Tuesday morning had reportedly been “really good,” particularly Boykins, but she did not yet have numbers available.

Around 2:20 p.m., Yvonne Rose had counted 456 people who had came to vote so far in the Courtland Volunteer Fire Department. “It’s been a regular flow all day,” said the longtime volunteer, adding that so far no more than 10 minutes would go by without someone driving up to cast their ballot. She was expecting a surge from 5 to 7 p.m., when voting ceases. She noted that in a presidential election year, the turnout is about 1,200 voters, and in other years around 600 to 700 people.

“Of course I’m Democratic and I’m prayerful it all will come out well,” Rose said about her choices. “We need people who are at least familiar with the workings of government. We need a balance between Washington, D.C. and Virginia.”

After voting, Ronald Johnson of Courtland said he felt confident that his decisions on the ballot would succeed. Fannie Faltz likewise felt positive about her votes.

At Capron, Ken Blythe and fellow volunteers had experienced a steady stream of voters all day. So far on Tuesday mid-afternoon, the poll site had had 337 people out of 937 active registered voters show up.

In Isle of Wight County, voter turnout was steady throughout the morning, with few polling places seeing any down time. As of 10:05 a.m., election officials working the Windsor Volunteer Fire Department polling location had recorded 336 votes. By around 10:40 a.m., election officials at the Walters Ruritan Clubhouse had recorded 248 votes, approximately 22.02 percent of the precinct’s registered voters. By 11:10 a.m., 151 votes had been recorded at the Carrsville Volunteer Fire Department polling location, equating to approximately 18 percent of the precinct’s registered voters.

Polling locations throughout the county offered only paper ballots this year to most voters, with one computerized ballot available in each precinct to visually impaired voters, which would allow them to hear each question and choice verbally. The paper ballots, once completed, are fed into a scanning machine, and are counted whether they are fed into the machine face-up or face-down.

“It [the machine] gives you an error message if there’s something wrong with the ballot, like if they don’t vote for everybody,” said Kay Stephenson, assistant chief election official for the Windsor VFD location.

Laura Sullivan, principal of Windsor High School, said that students 18-plus who brought a note to school to excuse their being tardy or leaving early in order to vote would be excused, though the school did not receive any such notes on Tuesday by the end of the school day. She added that the school recently completed the Inspire VA campaign, which encourages students about to turn 18 and those already 18 to register to vote. Teacher Matthew Burgess headed up the campaign with his advanced placement government class, and hopes to achieve 100 percent voter registration among students 18-plus by the end of the school year.