Shenandoah County sees strong absentee voter turnout amid pandemic

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SHENANDOAH COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — Tuesday, May 19, is Election Day for May local elections across Virginia this year.

While man voted absentee some voters still came out to the polls.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, many local and state officials have been encouraging people for weeks to cast their ballots through absentee voting by mail, as a socially distant form of voting – and it may turn out to boost the turnout for local elections this year.

Lisa Mcdonald, with the voter registrar's office in Shenandoah County, said in local elections, they normally see pretty low voter turnout – but this year, they saw a strong number of absentee votes before Election Day even came.

Each of the six towns in the county has someone on their ballot for Town Council, but four of those towns are electing or reelecting a mayor too.

The town of Strasburg is the only contested mayoral election, with incumbent mayor Richard Orndorff Jr., Brandy Hawkins Boies, Donald M. Le Vine, and Ray N. Lough all on the ballot.

We first told you about Ordnorff's reelection campaign when he announced it back in March. He faced criticism from the community after being charged with a DUI almost a year ago when he crashed an off-road vehicle into the town's library and has since been charged with several counts of food stamp fraud and obtaining money under false pretenses too.

The allegations are connected to Orndorff's use of town funds and a state-issued debit card. He's said it's something that will be cleared up in court later this year.

With an interesting town election, Mcdonald said they still saw a lower in-person voter turnout throughout the day on Tuesday, but received more than 1,000 absentee votes.

"We have had a lot more absentee voters than we usually do because we had done the vote from home campaign," Mcdonald said. "We had requested voters if they wished to vote from at home and stay safe by voting absentee."

Mcdonald attributes part of the increased absentee voting to the rescheduling of the election from May 5 to May 19 because of the pandemic.

Polls will stay open until 7 p.m. and precincts like the one located at Strasburg High School are allowing curbside voting if you do not wish to go inside.