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New voting machines about to be tested

The first election of the year in Prince William County has already begun and election officials are hoping against hope for a decent turnout.

Dumfries Town Council member Bill Murphy is running unopposed in the special election set to conclude on April 14.

While running unopposed is a boon for Murphy locally in Dumfries, it's not exactly what the Prince William Office of Elections prefers this year, even though it'll make the workload lighter for staffers tabulating the results.

The reason is that this election is the first one in the county to feature optical scan machines. County officials are hoping a decent turnout in the Dumfries election will allow for a decent test-drive of the new equipment.

According to Dutton, the county will still proceed with using the optical scan machines in the upcoming June 9 primaries and in the Nov. 3 general election, regardless of the turnout numbers in Dumfries on April 14.

While county staffers will still count the results by hand even after the machines tabulate their numbers in the Dumfries special election, a large turnout can help with training election officials about using and reviewing the machines before the June primary.

Democrats running for their party's nomination in at least two races will compete in state-run primaries that month.

They include the 29th State Senate District, which pits state Del. Michael Futrell (D-2nd) against 2013 state House challengers Jeremy McPike (D) and Atif Qarni (D), and the Potomac seat for the Board of County Supervisors.

In the latter race, Dumfries Town Council member Derrick Wood (D) is competing against Andrea Bailey (D) for the Democratic nomination to take on long-time Potomac Supervisor Maureen Caddigan (R).

Republicans might have up to three state-run primaries while the local GOP chooses closed nomination methods for other contests.

However, a paperwork issue that was supposed to be resolved by the state last Friday still wasn't cleared up with the Office of Elections by Monday morning.

The Board of County Supervisors chairman race featuring incumbent Corey Stewart (R) and challenger Chris Crawford (R); the Coles Supervisor race between incumbent Marty Nohe (R) and Paul O'Meara (R); and the sheriff's race between incumbent Glen Hill (R) and 2007 challenger Michael Messier (R) are all supposed to be decided in a primary.

Contested Republican nominations for clerk of the Circuit Court, Woodbridge supervisor and Occoquan supervisor are due to be settled April 25 at an event hosted by the Prince William County Republican Committee.

The clerk's race features incumbent Michèle McQuigg (R) against planning commissioner Austin Haynes (R). As of March 2, no Democrat had filed for the race.

In Woodbridge, the supervisor's race pits 2005 House of Delegates candidate Steve Chapman (R) against Lee Price (R) for the right to take on incumbent Supervisor Frank Principi (D).

Occoquan has Ruth Anderson (R) and Donald Scoggins (R) competing for the GOP nomination in that supervisor's seat. Former Occoquan Mayor Earnie Porta (D) is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination.

Meanwhile, Dutton offered a clue about Commonwealth's Attorney Paul Ebert's (D) re-election plans, mentioning that his campaign has picked up the paperwork needed for him to file. If he does, in fact, run again, he is set to face outgoing Occoquan Supervisor Mike May (R).

The candidates in that race must file between March 9-26. If May is contested, the local Republicans will host a party canvass for that nomination.

Before all of that though, Dumfries citizens must first cast their ballots over the next 41 days in the town council's special election.

Dutton encouraged "all Dumfries voters, registered voters, to come out and vote and to see our equipment ... and to try our equipment.

"We would like as many hands on as possible. And this would help the voters in Dumfries,” she said. “They're going to be the first ones to use the new equipment.”
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