McAuliffe: Va. ready for lines at polls

WASHINGTON — Virginia is prepared for a large turnout on Election Day, Gov. Terry McAuliffe said Monday.

“You’re going to be able to vote, there’s going to be no security issues at all … and you should not be intimidated about going to a polling booth to vote for who you want to be your elected representatives,” McAuliffe said.

With more combined in-person and mail-in absentee ballots this year in Virginia than any previous years and record voter registration activity, the governor said that Virginia has prepared for a “very high turnout.”

In Fairfax County, for example, Virginia’s most populous county, about one in six registered voters have already voted absentee.

“We’ve been planning this a long time, and we have known clearly that this was going to be a huge turnout … I mean our system crashed on the last day of voter registration on Oct. 17,” McAuliffe said.

That crash led a federal judge to order an extension of the voter registration period.

McAuliffe and the Department of Elections said there should be no issues on Tuesday.

“Virginia voters should be confident that they will be able to safely cast a ballot on Tuesday and that their votes will be accurately counted,” said a Department of Elections statement.

In 2012, just under 72 percent of active, registered Virginia voters cast ballots in the general election. In 2008, turnout was 74.5 percent in Virginia.

The highest turnout rate in the past 40 years was in 1992, when 84.5 percent of Virginia voters turned out the year Bill Clinton was elected.

“Passions are raised, tensions are high, people are excited, and I hope they all come out and vote … make sure you vote. People fought and died in this nation to get the right to vote,” said McAuliffe.

There are far more registered voters in the state now — 5,605,711 — than in 1992, when there were 3,055,486 registered voters. There are some 176,000 more active Virginia voters today than there were four years ago, which could lead to this becoming the first election with 4 million votes cast.

“This is an important election. Wait in line, we’re going to move you through as fast as you possibly can, but this is one day a year you get out there and tell ‘em why we are the greatest democracy in the world,” McAuliffe said.

In a campaign season that has focused on many things, McAuliffe is looking forward to Wednesday morning.

“I think I speak for a lot of folks, let’s get this thing over. It has been a long presidential campaign,” he said.

McAuliffe said he has not made a decision on who he would appoint to the U.S. Senate seat that would be vacated by Tim Kaine should Clinton win the election.

McAuliffe said if they do win, he expects to make that announcement in early December.

He reiterated that he will finish out his term as governor, which ends in January 2018.

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