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Virginia voting: History and registered voters

Let's look at some numbers courtesy of the Virginia State Board of Elections for the 2012 General Election.

Virginia Firsts: The first presidential election was held on Wednesday, January 7, 1789. George Washington was an uncontested candidate and received 69 of the 146 electoral votes. Virginia was one of ten states to participate in the elections; one of only four states to choose presidential electors by popular vote; and the only one to split their electors by district.

Election History:

Winner Take All System- Starting in 1800, Virginia allocated their Presidential electors on a winner take all system. In the nation’s first competitive presidential election (1796), John Adams won by only three electoral votes. The Jeffersonians noted that their candidate had lost one electoral vote in his home state of Virginia and a second one in neighboring North Carolina.

Just before the 1800 election, Thomas Jefferson wrote, "election by districts would be best, if it could be general; but while 10 states choose either by their legislatures or by a general ticket [winner-take-all], it is folly & worse than folly for the other" states to fragment their electoral votes by using a district system.

Thus, Virginia changed from its district system to the winner-take-all rule, thereby ensuring Jefferson 100 percent of his home state’s electoral votes in the 1800 election. Over a period of years, more and more states gravitated to the statewide winner-take-all rule. By 1836, all but one state had adopted the statewide winner-take-all rule. All states used the statewide winner-take-all rule between 1896 and 1972. Maine (since 1972) and Nebraska (since 1992) have used a congressional district system for allocating their electoral votes.

Separate Votes for President and Vice President- In contests prior to 1804, the electors did not vote separately for president and vice-president. Instead, the candidate who garnered the majority of the electoral vote was elected president, and the candidate with the second largest number of votes became the vice president. The election of 1800 showed the weakness of this system. Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr each received the same number of electoral votes, and the election had to be resolved by a state delegation vote in the House of Representatives.

The adoption of the Twelfth Amendment in 1804, which required the electors to cast separate votes for president and vice president, rectified this problem. This constitutional change marked the beginning of political parties, with two persons running on the same ticket for the two different offices.

Number of Precincts Statewide: There are 2418 precincts in the Commonwealth of Virginia, not including central absentee precincts. This represents an increase of 69 precincts from the last presidential election in 2008 in which there were 2,349 precincts. In Culpeper, there are 15 voting precincts.

Registered Voters: As of November 2, 2012 there are 5,428,766 registered voters in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The last day to register to vote in the general election was October 15, 2012. In Culpeper, as of Oct. 15, there are 29,307 registered voters. This number is up 2,033 from Nov. 2008 when registered voters came in at 27,274.

Any person who was 17 years old and would be eighteen years of age on or before November 6, 2012 could register in advance to vote in the November presidential election. This included the intervening primary held in February and June.

What's the breakdown by age of Virginia's voters?

620,809 active registered voters range from ages 18 to 25.

1,178,131 of active voters range from ages 26 to 40 years old.

1,835,836 of active voters range from ages 41 to 60 years old.

676,726 of active voters range from ages to 61 to 70 years old.

535,416 active voters in the state of Virginia are over 70 years old.

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