No choices, few voters

Published 10:57 pm Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Predictably, few choices on the ballot leads to low voter turnout.

With only two contested General Assembly races out of the eight districts that cover parts of Suffolk, the abysmal voter turnout on Tuesday ranged from the 7.4 percent of active Suffolk voters who cast votes for Lionell Spruill Sr. in his uncontested race for the 77th House of Delegates seat to the 24.71 percent of active Suffolk voters who chose between John C. Miller and Mickey P. Chohany for the First District Senate seat.

In 2007, the last time all General Assembly seats were up for re-election, the turnout was hardly better in Suffolk. There were fewer districts covering Suffolk then, and even fewer contested races — only one challenged race happened that year, with 22.5 percent of affected Suffolk voters casting ballots.

Email newsletter signup

Suffolk’s three southwestern precincts — Holland, Holy Neck and Whaleyville — together contributed to a defeat of 20-year Delegate William K. Barlow, a Democrat, by Republican challenger Richard Morris. District-wide, more than 42 percent of the active voters came out. Morris’ handy victory came by nearly 2,500 votes.

The district also includes parts of Franklin and Sussex, Surry, Southampton, Prince George and Isle of Wight counties. Barlow carried only Franklin and Surry, even losing in his home, Isle of Wight.

Morris won Suffolk’s precincts by 141 votes collectively. The Holy Neck precinct went heavily for Barlow, but the Republican newcomer pulled a majority of the votes in Whaleyville and Holland.

The final margin of error between incumbent Democrat Miller and Republican challenger Chohany was less than 3 percent. Miller won by 989 votes across the entire First District, which includes Suffolk’s Harbour View precinct as well as parts of James City and York counties, Hampton, Newport News and Williamsburg. Chohany garnered a majority only in James City and York counties.

A number of other candidates representing the city were unopposed. Senators Thomas K. Norment Jr., Harry B. Blevins and L. Louise Lucas and Delegates S. Chris Jones, Lionell Spruill Sr. and Matthew James all coasted to victory, with write-in percentages between 1 and 6 percent.

Likewise did W.R. “Randy” Carter Jr., longtime Clerk of the Circuit Court. He also was unopposed.