The common wisdom among pundits has been that a heavy turnout in Northern Virginia bodes well for President Obama. Time will soon tell if the pundits are right, as voters have swarmed the polls throughout the day in and around Fairfax.
Lines stretched outside polling places and wound around parking lots since before day today as voters finally got the chance to have their say. Although long lines made many voters late for work and caused a lot of fidgeting, there were few indications that many voters were being driven away by the lengthy waits, which extended to two hours or more in some areas.
Voters have been hearing for months that Virginia was a prime battleground state and that the winner of its 17 electoral votes will have an important leg up as election night tabulations begin.
Besides the presidential contest, Virginia voters are choosing between two former governors to fill a vacancy in the U.S. Senate create by the retirement of Democrat Jim Webb. Republican George Allen lost the seat to Webb six years ago and is trying to take it back but ran into stiff opposition from Democrat Tim Kaine, who left his post as chairman of the Democratic National Committee to seek the Senate seat.
Virginia instituted a new voter ID law this year, requiring voters to show up with identification cards at the polls. The measure generated some controversy when it was enacted but there were few reports of problems today, as poll workers said voters showed up with their cards in hand.
Polls are open until 7 and exit polling results are expected to hit the airwaves minutes after the polls close.