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By Tom Wilmoth and John Barnhart
By 9 p.m. Tuesday, some local races had been decided while others were still up in the air as votes continued to be turned into the local registrars.
For complete results visit the Bedford Bulletin Web site at www.bedfordbulletin.com.
It appeared Bedford City Council would add a new member—to go with three incumbents winning reelection—while the Bedford County School Board appeared to be gaining one new member while also returning one incumbent.
Both city and county voters favored Republicans in the congressional, senate and presidential races with the county electorate strongly supporting the Republican candidates.
Statewide the presidential voting was close at 9 p.m. and it appeared final results wouldn't be known until late in the night for the Commonwealth, an important swing state in the overall presidential election. As of 9 p.m Republican Mitt Romney held a slight 52 percent to 46 percent edge, but that was with less than 60 percent of Virginia precincts reporting.
The US Senate race also appeared to be close between the two former governors with Republican George Allen holding a slight edge 51 percent to 48 percent over Tim Kaine. Final results on that also appeared to be headed to a late night call.
The congressional races, however, didn't appear to be so close.
With 80 percent of the precincts reporting in, Republican incumbent Robert Hurt held a 55 percent to 43 percent lead over Democrat challenger John Douglass in the 5th District Congressional race. Virginia Independent Green candidate Kenneth J. Hildebrandt had garnered only 2 percent of the vote.
In the 6th District race, incumbent Republican Robert W. “Bob” Goodlatte easily won reelection, holding a 67 percent to 32 percent lead over Democratic challenger Andy B. Schmookler with 63 percent of the precincts reporting at 9 p.m.
Bedford City Council will apparently have one new member, with three of four incumbents winning reelection.
Six candidates were vying for the four council seats up for election.
Unofficial results Tuesday night had incumbents Steve C. Rush (1,455 votes), W.D. “Skip” Tharp (1,311 votes) and Robert T. “Bob” Wandrei (1,228 votes) winning reelection with newcomer Stacey L. Hailey claiming the fourth seat with 1,143 votes. Current incumbent Guy E. Murray Jr. fell just 11 votes short (1,132) in the unofficial results with Michael D. Schneider garnering 771 votes. There were 64 write-in votes cast in the council race.
But all the council members will have to run again soon if they want to remain on council. Assuming the reversion of the city to town status is approved, a Town Council election will have to held in May to set up the new governing body for Bedford when it reverts to a town July 1 of next year.
City Registrar Randi Herrick said turnout in the city was about 70 percent, below the 75 percent turnout in the 2008 presidential election. The city election results won't be official until after Wednesday's canvass. One provisional vote was also cast in the city and that voter has until Friday at noon to bring in proper identification.
Herrick said voting was steady all day at the two city precincts. Absentee voting was also down in the city.
Herrick said there were some minor machine issues, because of the volume of voting. “They get backed up and can't keep up with the volume,” she said, adding that all votes cast were counted.
“No votes were lost,” she said.
“To my knowledge we had no complaints about wait time,” she added.
City voters favored Republican Mitt Romney on the presidential ticket 54 percent to 43 percent over Democrat Barack Obama (1,527 to 1,225 votes). Virgil Goode, the Constitution Party candidate garnered 23 votes.
In the US Senate race, city voters also leaned in favor of Republican George Allen over Democrat Tim Kaine, 56 percent to 43 percent (1,520 to 1,180).
In the 5th District Congressional race, city voters also favored Robert Hurt 59 percent to 38 percent over Democrat John Douglass (1,584 to 1,023).
"It has been a non-stop day," was County Registrar Barbara Gunter's description of election day.
"The precincts had the largest lines they have ever had," Gunter said. She won't have actual turnout figures until they canvass the votes the day after the election, coming up with an official vote count, but Gunter expects the largest voter turnout the county has ever seen.
One issue that keep Gunter and her staff busy were the number of people who rarely vote and had changed addresses since the last time they cast a ballot. Gunter said they had to spend time with each one to verify whether the would-be voter was eligible. She said hardly 15 seconds went by without her or a member of her staff on the phone with a voter.
"My ear is numb," she said Tuesday evening.
Then, there was the precinct at New London Academy. Some people from Campbell County turned up there to vote and stood in a long line only to find out at the end that they were not eligible to vote there.
"It has been a challenging day for precinct workers as well as staff," she said.
Gunter said that they had very few provisional ballots cast. These were cast by people who showed up without a valid ID. They have until noon on Friday to produce an ID in order for the ballot to count. The ID can be faxed in, scanned and e-mailed in or the voter can bring the ID to her office in person.
Mitt Romney soundly led Barack Obama in Bedford County, a Republican stronghold, with 72 percent of county voters casting ballots for him. Only 26 percent voted for Obama. Virgil Goode, running under the Constitution Party banner, drew less than 1 percent, with only 149 people voting for him.
George Allen was also overwhelmingly popular in Bedford County with 72 percent of local voters casting ballots for him. Tim Kaine only got 28 percent of the Bedford County vote.
Bedford County treated incumbent Congressmen Bob Goodlatte and Robert Hurt well. Goodlatte got 80 percent of the 6th Congressional District's Bedford County vote, while Dr. Andy Schmookler got only 20 percent. Hurt got 71 percent of the vote in the 5th Congressional District portion of the county while John Douglass got 27 percent. Kenneth Hildebrandt, a Virginia Independent Green, got 2 percent,
Local voters also voted in favor of two amendments to the Virginia Constitution. The first, dealing with eminent domain, got 84 percent of the local vote and the second, dealing with General Assembly veto sessions, got 83 percent.
Two of six precincts in District 3 had not reported in by press time, but it appeared clear that Dr. John Hicks would return to the Bedford County School Board. He was leading Eric Thompson by 63 percent to Thompson's 36 percent.
The situation was unclear in District 2 as of 9 p.m., where there was a three-way race. The only issue that was clear, at that point, was that Jennifer Merritt would not likely retain the District 2 school board seat. She only had 24 percent of the vote by press time.
The winner, however, was still in doubt. Charlotte Maxey was ahead with 40 percent of the vote with Jason Johnson close behind at 36 percent, making the race too close to call. Two of the district's five precincts had yet to report their results by 9 p.m.