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Fairfax County voter turnout falls short of 2018 midterms, as House incumbents seal victory

Voting at Cunningham Park Elementary School in Vienna (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

With most incumbents running away to victory, it appears that Fairfax County’s voter turnout for the general election this year will fall short of the 2018 midterms.

About 53% of registered, active county voters took part in this year’s midterm elections, per Fairfax County election officials. That’s about 16 percentage points off from the midterms four years ago. It’s also lower than last year’s gubernatorial election, which had a 60% turnout.

In total, 391,361 ballots have been counted so far in Fairfax County, election officials said.

Turnout numbers remain unofficial. Ballots put into drop boxes will be counted today, while additional mail ballots can continue to arrive until noon Monday (Nov. 14).

Absentee mail and in-person voting rose this election cycle compared to 2018, with 130,350 residents voting early this year — just under 18% of active, registered voters in the county. That’s about 44,000 more people than in 2018, when 12% of voters made their decisions early.

Last year, 174,641 county residents, or about 24% of voters, cast ballots by mail or early in person.

With Fairfax County staying reliably blue, the lack of competitive Congressional races on the ballot may have contributed to the lower turnout compared to other recent elections. Based on the preliminary results, all but one local incumbent — Herndon Town Councilmember Signe Friedrichs — appears to have held their job.

Don Beyer (D) secured victory in Virginia’s 8th Congressional District with 73% of the vote with most precincts reporting. The district includes about 282,000 residents of Fairfax County, where Beyer secured 69% of the vote — about three percentage points lower than what he got in 2018.

The re-elected Congressman tweeted out a statement just before 9 p.m. last night, thanking voters for “again putting their confidence in me.”

In the 11th Congressional District, Gerry Connolly (D) won his eighth term in office with 66% of the vote overall, with all but two precincts reporting.

The 11th District is almost entirely in Fairfax County, covering about 585,000 residents. That includes Lorton, Burke, Fairfax, Chantilly, Vienna, Tysons, Reston, and most of Springfield and Herndon.

Like Beyer, Connolly didn’t fare quite as well this year in Fairfax County as he did in 2018, with 66% of the vote compared to 70% four years ago.

“Representing Virginia’s 11th congressional district is one of the greatest honors of my life,” Connolly wrote in a statement to FFXnow. “I want to thank Northern Virginians for once again putting their trust in me and I will never stop fighting for our shared progressive values.”

The county’s closest Congressional race came in the 10th District, where Jennifer Wexton (D) got re-elected for a second term with 52.9% of the vote compared to Republican challenger Hung Cao’s 46.95%.

Wexton represents about 14,500 Fairfax County residents, mostly around Clifton, which make up only 2.5% of the district. Among that small slice of the electorate, Wexton’s victory was even tighter with her only winning 48 more votes than Cao.

Wexton previously represented more county residents, but redistricting pushed the district further south and changed that.

In a statement to FFXnow, Wexton said she’s “honored” for being re-elected while noting there’s a “fight ahead of us, and it’s a fight we must win.”

I chose public service because I believed I could make a difference in the lives of kids and families in my community, and I’m honored that the people of Virginia-10 have trusted me with another opportunity to continue delivering progress and positive results for our district.

After being stuck in a pandemic, with the burden of rising prices, and in what feels like an increasingly divisive political climate – we’re moving again. I’m proud that we’ve made progress to get the economy back on track and get people back to work, fight inflation and lower prices, and bring our communities together around the issues that matter most. And there’s still work to do.

We have a fight ahead of us, and it’s a fight we must win. From attacks on our fundamental freedoms to undermining our very democracy, there is real fear about the direction of our country. But seeing the passion and determination of Virginians of all backgrounds and walks of life come out during this campaign to fight for the values they believe in — the values that make this country great — I’m more confident than ever that our brightest days are ahead.

An even tighter race came in Herndon, where seven candidates jockeyed for six seats on the town council.  Only 101 votes currently separate the highest vote-getter from the lowest, with incumbents Naila Alam, Cesar del Aguila, and Pradip Dhakal appearing to secure re-election.

Challengers Clark Hedrick, Keven LeBlanc Jr, and Donielle Scherff seem to have pushed out Friedrichs, though the margins are close enough that the results could change as outstanding ballots are counted.

Herndon also gave incumbent Sheila Olem a second term as mayor. She drew 41% of the vote, while challengers Sean Regan and Jasbinder Singh received 38% and 20%, respectively.

The election results won’t be made official and certified until after Monday next week, when all mail-in ballots are counted.

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