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Arlington Democrats School Board Vote-by-Mail Caucus Set to Shatter Participation Record

Voters Requested Nearly 8,000 Endorsement Ballots, 32% More than Cast in Record-Breaking 2017 Caucus and Nearly 4x 2019’s Count

Thursday, May 14, 2020, ARLINGTON, Va.—A whopping 7,855 Democratic voters requested ballots for the Arlington County Democratic Committee's School Board endorsement caucus—which is being conducted entirely by mail for the first time because of the coronavirus—setting the stage to surpass the county’s previous caucus participation record.

With hundreds of ballots already returned, caucus participation likely will far exceed the 1,994 ballots cast in the 2019 in-person School Board caucus, and could comfortably surpass the county’s caucus voting record of 5,972 votes, set in the 2017 School Board caucus. Although ballots will not be counted or opened until after the mail-in caucus closes May 30, the Committee is validating voters’ registration on a rolling basis as voters request ballots and before sending them. The deadline for requesting mail-in ballots was May 7.

“Against the backdrop of the deadly coronavirus, Arlington voters are letting the county, the commonwealth and the country know that it will take more than a global pandemic to prevent us from exercising our constitutionally protected right to participate in the electoral process,” Arlington Democrats Chair Jill Caiazzo said. “Arlington Democrats pulled out all of the stops to enable Arlingtonians to cast ballots inclusively, responsibly and safely during an unprecedented public health crisis, and we’re proud that Democratic voters have responded so forcefully.”

Five candidates are seeking the Democratic endorsement for two School Board seats that will be on the Nov. 3 general election ballot. While the deadline has passed to request mail-in School Board caucus ballots, voters who already have them, or receive them from earlier requests, have until May 30 to complete and return them. Ballots must be received, not postmarked, by May 30. Arlington Democrats expect to announce its endorsed candidate no later than June 9, Virginia’s candidate filing deadline for the Nov. 3 ballot.

A week after Gov. Ralph Northam issued a stay-at-home order for the entire commonwealth on March 30, Arlington Democrats devised and launched the mail-in caucus to safeguard public health and ensure that as many voters as possible could participate.

Voters Urged to Continue Vote-by-Mail Momentum by Requesting Absentee Ballots for July 7 Special Election

To minimize virus-related health risks during what is likely to be a chaotic election year, Arlington Democrats encourage voters to apply to vote absentee-by-mail in upcoming elections. Virginia law allows voters to cast ballots absentee by mail to minimize their risk of contracting the virus at busy polling places. The next Arlington election is July 7, to fill the County Board seat previously held by Erik Gutshall, who died April 16.

The deadline to request a mail-in ballot for the County Board special election is 5 p.m. on June 30. Arlington Democrats last week selected economist, urban planner and nonprofit leader Takis Karantonis as the party’s nominee.

“Because of the pandemic, election officials across the country are receiving hundreds or thousands more requests for absentee ballots than they normally do, and Arlington will be no different,” Caiazzo said. “For this reason, we urge voters to request their mail-in ballots now, to ensure they have enough time to receive and return them before the election.”

A recent survey conducted by the Virginia Public Access Project found an eye-popping surge in the number of mail-in ballots cast in cities and towns across the commonwealth holding May elections, as voters stayed at home during the pandemic.

Instructions on how to request absentee ballots online, and to register to vote for residents not yet registered, are on the Arlington Democrats website. “Don’t wait,” Caiazzo said. “Request your absentee ballot NOW!” County Board special election ballots must be received—not postmarked—by 7 p.m. on Election Day, July 7.

“Arlington Democrats have worked incredibly hard to keep the electoral process safe, fair, accessible and transparent during these difficult times, and we’re inspired that Arlington’s voters are rising to the challenge and making participation a priority,” Caiazzo said. “We’re gearing up for November, when we’ll restore competence, integrity and compassion to the White House by electing Joe Biden president, and returning capable and caring Democrats to represent Arlington in Congress, and on the County and School boards.”

Arlington Democrats’ website has comprehensive information about the School Board caucus, the special County election and mail-in voting information.

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