The Arlington County Electoral Board issued a reminder Thursday to candidates about proper behavior in polling stations after a resident complained about an encounter with Rep. James Moran (D) last night.
The Arlington resident said she was about to vote absentee at the Barcroft Health and Fitness Center about 5:30 p.m. Oct. 31 when she heard a poll worker introduce Moran to another voter who was one of his supporters. The two chatted a bit, but when Moran turned to her, she said she mumbled that his conversation was inappropriate and likely illegal, and Moran turned away.
Under Virginia law, candidates are allowed to be in a polling place for up to 10 minutes to thank voters and workers but they are prohibited from campaigning there.
County Registrar Linda Lindberg said poll workers who were there told her that Moran was not politicking, but since the incident was “possibly borderline,” she referred it to the board.
Charlene Bickford, chairman of the Electoral Board, said it sounded to her like a conversation initiated by a voter and the discussion was within legal boundaries.
“Conversations in polls can get out of hand,” she said, especially during a heated election campaign. Bickford, a former Arlington Democratic Party chairman, consulted with other board members, who are former Republican Party chairmen, then sent an e-mail to Moran’s campaign and the current Democratic Party chairman reminding them of the law. She said she considers the matter settled.
“I’m not concerned this is any kind of general pattern,” Bickford said.
A spokesman for Moran’s campaign said he was there to thank the volunteer poll workers.
“He was in and out in less than five minutes and abided by all rules governing visits to a polling place,” the spokesman said. “It’s unfortunate someone would try to mischaracterize the situation, but sadly that’s the political environment we live in these days.”