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Arlington Special Election Today Turns On Streetcar Proposal

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Controversy over a streetcar initiative in Arlington could prompt higher-than-normal turnout at a special election Tuesday.
Controversy over a streetcar initiative in Arlington could prompt higher-than-normal turnout at a special election Tuesday.

In Virginia, voters are headed to the polls Tuesday for a special election for Arlington County Board, and the controversy surrounding a proposed streetcar on Columbia Pike is at the center of the campaign.

Two candidates support the streetcar, Democratic candidate Alan Howze and Independent Green candidate Janet Murphy. Two independent candidates are critical of the streetcar, John Vihstadt and Stephen Holbrook.

Arlington registrar Linda Lindberg says she expects a 20 percent turnout for the special election, much lower than the 85 percent who participated in the presidential election but much higher than the 12 percent of voters who showed up for the last special election for the Arlington County Board. She says she's already seen very strong absentee balloting in advance of Election Day.

"We've never had this kind of absentee turnout for a special election, but you have to keep in mind that absentees have been growing and growing and growing steadily," Lindberg says.

Lindberg say the unofficial results will be posted shortly after polls close, although that doesn't necessarily mean a winner will emerge.

"If it's as close as some people think it might be, I don't know and I can't predict, but if it's razor thin attorney general type close, we could end up with a recount," Lindberg says.

The seat opened when longtime County Board member Chris Zimmerman stepped down to take a position with an advocacy group. He was one of the strongest supporters of the streetcar initiative.

The polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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