Rain Doesn't Dampen Plans for Virginia Voters

Rain Doesn’t Dampen Plans for Virginia Voters

obamamanassasBarack Obama held his final campaign appearance at the “Change We Need” rally in Manassas, Virginia Monday night, a gathering cited as one of the largest in Prince William County history. (Source: Obama campaign)

Voting had slowed down to a steady trickle by 10:40 a.m., when I conducted an exit poll at Precinct 307 in Richmond, Virginia. According to an election official, however, voters had been queued up in a line stretching around the block at 6 a.m. Polling was located at Ginter Park Presbyterian Church, in a mostly white, upper-middle-class neighborhood with beautiful, large old houses standing proudly on well-kept lawns.

At mid-morning, the weather was still wet with occasional periods of rain. Voters coming from the church were about 95% white and a good mix of young and old. Perhaps two-thirds of them were women. I stayed exactly 30 minutes. During that time, 15 people I questioned said they voted for Obama, zero said they voted for McCain, and nine refused to answer.

Next, I visited Richmond’s Precinct 306, located at the Police Training Academy on the campus of Virginia Union University. This historically black university is in a middle- to upper-middle class black neighborhood. A campaign worker for one of the city elections said about 150 people had been lined up there at 6:00 a.m. when voting started, and that more than 50% of the precinct’s registered voters had cast their ballots by 11 a.m.

Bryonna Jones, a Virginia Union University freshman who is a first-time voter, says she is very excited about participating in this election. “I voted for Barack Obama not only because I’m from Chicago like him, but because I really think this country needs a change. It’s time for a change, and I believe in everything that he is trying to do for this country. This is such a big mark in history. It is so big, and I’m really excited about it … My friend has a Barack Obama song out right now. So I’m really excited,” Jones says.

Jamie Powell, a 26-year-old Iraq War veteran who graduated in May from Virginia Union as a religion and philosophy major, voted earlier at Precinct 202 in Henrico County. He says he was on campus at the polls, “enjoying himself on this momentous occasion.” Powell says a good 300 people had been in line at 6:30 a.m. when he voted at Henrico High School, which is located in a predominately black area.

“I’ve been voting since I was 18. This is by far the most people I’ve ever seen out at the polls, especially the African Americans I’ve seen at the polls. I voted for Barack Obama not only because he is the best candidate, but I believe he has the best plan as far as getting our economy out of the situation that it’s in, and it’s time for a change,” says Powell, who is currently a youth pastor and attends graduate school in Atlanta.