How often do voters show up at the polls on election day, stare at their ballot, sigh and say, “Are these really my only choices?” Then, they pick one and hope for the best.
However, there is a way that you can decide which names you end up staring at in November. In just a few weeks, on June 20, both parties are holding primaries – in fact, early voting is already underway.
Democratic primaries for the Board of County Supervisors will be held in the Neabsco and Potomac districts and countywide for chair. Republicans are also holding a countywide primary for chair of the board. And primaries are also being held in several General Assembly districts.
Virginia has no party registration, so voters can participate in whichever party’s primary they choose. Voters actually make their first choice before they even vote because you can’t vote in both primaries.
Other than that, voting in a primary is just like voting in a general election. Go to your regular polling place, show your identification, pick up a ballot and cast your vote.
Primaries are the most open and inclusive of all the ways in which political parties can nominate candidates. When parties use firehouse primaries, they make all the rules, which are often exclusionary because if voters aren’t free on the day the party picks, at the time the party picks, or are not willing to sign a pledge to vote for who the party tells them to in November, they can’t participate.
There are similar issues with conventions, but those are even worse. Conventions are like a marathon, uphill, without water, in 100% humidity, and without shoes. Not only must voters be available on the day and time and in the location chosen by the party, but conventions can, and often do, last for hours. Voters unable to commit that amount of time can’t participate.
The rules for firehouse primaries and conventions run by political parties can be manipulated to favor one candidate over another. Voting could be scheduled for a Saturday morning when a youth sports league is having its opening day, forcing parents to choose whether to participate in the nominating process or take their child to a significant team event.
Or voting locations can be limited, creating long lines that exclude voters who can’t wait hours. These processes also exclude military voters who are deployed, public safety personnel patrolling our streets, nurses whose shifts overlap the time to vote, the sick and elderly who are homebound, along with their caregivers, and so on.
All this is to say that the county Republican and Democrat parties should be praised for holding primaries this year. The best way to show the parties that voters appreciate their willingness to have a more open and inclusive process is to participate.
While the national media is already talking about the 2024 presidential election, in Prince William County, this year’s election is far more critical. Voters will choose who oversees our schools, county government and courts. We will decide who will represent us in Richmond and who will be our sheriff.
We are electing the people who will control the parts of government that affect us most directly: schools, public safety, social services, land use, textbooks, taxes, management of the landfill, libraries, historic preservation, youth services and much more.
Many people are running from both parties, which isn’t surprising with a Democrat in the White House and a Republican in the governor’s mansion. Both sides feel emboldened. However, the real power still lies with the voters. Use that power. Vote in the primary and send the message that we always want an open, fair nominating process so we can all have a say in whose name we see on the ballot in November.
Kristina Nohe is a political activist, adoption advocate and homeschooling mom who is proud to be from Prince William County.
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.