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Rural Voters Go To The Polls

Provisional ballot screens
Voters across Central Virginia have had to cast provisional ballots after they requested but did not return absentee ballots. (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM News)

Voting lines in Goochland and Powhatan were long at sunrise but petered out through the afternoon. 

Voter Sylvia Diersen set up a Trump sign-covered tent outside the St. Mary’s Episcopal Church precinct in Goochland. She said she voted a straight Republican ticket. 

“There’s so much about our ticket to be proud of, and I can’t imagine not winning. I just can’t,” Dierson said. She made note of how important voting in person was to her. 

“I would never vote mail-in. No way,” she said. “I was right there this morning to cast my vote. I want to be in person and hand my ballot to the person so they can see that that’s me and that’s the ballot.”

Larry Eggleston, another Republican voter outside the Sandy Hook Precinct in Goochland said he voted in person, the very first day he could. 

“I did not want to come up here today and they tell me you can’t vote here, you’ve already voted because somebody fraudulently votes in my name. I would not be a happy camper,” he said.

Kiesha Carol, who did not identify her party, voted in person on Tuesday as well, but not because she was worried about the security of her ballot. She said the new Virginia laws that expand registration and voting options helped get her mom to vote for the first time in a decade. 

“I know people [were] a little leery about voter fraud. I do not believe that that is taking place,” Carol said. “I believe that is actually increasing the options for people to vote, especially for people who may be disabled or because of work schedules, now virtual schooling, with children being at home.”

In Powhatan, Republican John Hagerty said he didn’t feel strongly about mail-in ballots. He just went to the polls in person because that’s what he usually does. He has never, however, voted for a Democratic presidential candidate. 

“Except for today,” Hagerty said. “I just couldn’t pull the plug on him. I voted Republican on everyone else. That says a lot to go 40 years, not even a dog catcher would I vote Democrat. And I couldn’t do it for Trump.”

Goochland General Registrar Ryan Mulligan said many people showed up to vote in person who had requested an absentee ballot. That meant a lot of provisional ballots had been cast in some of the precincts. 

“It’s new to a lot of people,” he said. “I’m not sure if they just didn’t think they had enough time to get it in, so they just decided to go vote in person.”

Voters who requested mail-in ballots, have not returned them and want to vote in person can use a provisional ballot, which will be counted after officials confirm that those voters did not return mail-in ballots.

Whittney Evans is VPM News’ features editor.
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