It’s Election Day in Virginia and voters are taking to the polls.
Follow along as The Daily Progress newsroom reports live from polling places across the Charlottesville area, as well as from the viewing — and victory — parties as tallies are counted and winners are announced.
As a Democratic stronghold, the Charlottesville area is not likely to have many surprises, but a closely watched school board race in Albemarle County, pitting Allison Spillman against Meg Bryce, has garnered national attention. Bryce is the daughter of late conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia who took her four children out of public schools in response to leadership decisions during the pandemic. Spillman, who identifies as a Democrat in a race where candidates do not run with party affiliations, is the mother of five Albemarle public schools students. Their race has raised more money than all other races in the county combined.
In what was supposed to be the race to watch tonight, one candidate has consistently been ahead: Allison Spillman is set to defeat Meg Bryce for the at-large seat on the Albemarle County School Board.
Throughout the course of the evening, Spillman remained well ahead of her opponent, the daughter of late conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
At present, Spillman has nearly 62% of the vote, Bryce just short of 38%.
After running neck and neck earlier tonight, Ann Mallek and Rebecca Berlin are primed to defeat their challengers in Albemarle County’s White Hall District.
A little more than 96% of the votes are in.
Mallek, a Democrat who has served on the county Board of Supervisors since 2008, was trailing behind independent challenger Brad Rykal by just a few points for most of the night. She left the Democratic watch party, telling a Daily Progress reporter it was "hard to wait." Mallek now has 52% of the vote, ahead of Rykal’s 47%.
Berlin too has pulled ahead of her opponent Joann McDermid. The pair is running for a seat on the county school board. Earlier in the evening they were neck and neck, each with 49% of the vote. Now, Berlin has pulled ahead with nearly 54% of the vote compared to McDermid’s nearly 46%.
All but one precinct in Albemarle County has reported.
What was one of the more heated races has fizzled as Allison Spillman has maintained a consistent lead over Meg Bryce in the race for the at-large seat on the county school board. Spillman has a little more than 56% of the vote, compared to Bryce’s 43%.
Meanwhile, races in the White Hall District are incredibly close. Joann McDermid and Rebecca Berlin are practically tied with 49.6% and 49.9% of the vote, respectively. Democrat Ann Mallek looks as though she could lose her the seat she has held for 15 years in a narrow loss to independent challenger Brad Rykal.
The Daily Progress is calling the race in Virginia’s 11th Senate District for Democrat Creigh Deeds. Deeds, who has represented the Charlottesville area for decades, has defeated Republican challenger Philip Hamilton.
With 77% of the votes in, Albemarle County is closer to knowing who will represent it on the Board of Supervisors and School Board.
The races to watch are all in White Hall, where Joann McDermid is giving incumbent Rebecca Berlin a run for her money for the school board seat and Brad Rykal may end Ann Mallek’s long career on the board of supervisors.
Both Rykal and McDermid have narrow leads with 51% of the vote.
In the Rivanna District, Democrat Bea LaPisto-Kirtley has maintained her lead over independent T.J. Fadeley. LaPisto-Kirtley has secured roughly 60% of the vote.
Other candidate running unopposed and therefore guaranteed their seats include School Board incumbents Judy Le in the Rivanna District and Ellen Osborne in the Scottsville District. Mike Pruitt will be joining the Board of Supervisors and representing the Scottsville District after running unopposed.
Down in the polls against newcomer Brad Rykal, longtime White District Supervisor Ann Mallek has left the Democratic watch party at Vivace.
With 45% of the votes in, Rykal leads Mallek by a narrow but impressive 2.72-point advantage. A veteran, stay-at-home dad and podcaster, Rykal has never held office.
Ann Mallek said she is waiting for two precincts and early voting numbers to determine if she will keep her seat on the Albemarle Board of Supervisors.
"There’s no way of knowing," the incumbent White Hall representative said at the Democratic watch party at Vivace. "It’s hard to wait."
Mallek has served on the Albemarle Board of Supervisors since 2008. She asked voters to send her back to the board one last time before retiring, but independent candidate Brad Rykal has put up a fight.
"There’s a lot at stake, that’s for sure," Mallek said.
Bea LaPisto-Kirtley, the incumbent candidate for the Rivanna District seat on the Albemarle Board of Supervisors, continues to command a lead over her independent "fiscal conservative" opponent T.J. Fadeley.
LaPisto-Kirtley has 61% of the vote with her, Fadeley 38%.
Allison Spillman remains the front-runner over Meg Bryce for Albemarle County’s at-large seat. With a little more than 41% of the votes in, Spillman has a 58% lead over Bryce’s 41%.
A little more than 41% of votes have been counted in Albemarle County.
The biggest takeaway tonight is that White Hall is a wild card.
Ann Mallek, who has represented the district since 2008 and was running for one last term on the board, is neck and neck with independent candidate Brad Rykal, a military veteran, podcaster and stay-at-home dad. Mallek has 48% of the vote compared to Rykal’s 51%.
Rebecca Berlin, an incumbent who represents the district on the school board, is also facing stiff competition from Joann McDermid. McDermid has a 51% lead over Berlin’s 48%.
After a hotly contested primary where she defeated two opponents, one Democratic candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates likely had a less stressful Election Day.
Katrina Callsen is running unopposed this general election. Yet she was still out at polls meeting voters and preparing to represent the 54th District.
“I spent my whole day at the polls. I was with Allison [Spillman] in the morning. I tried to visit every precinct,” she said at the Democratic watch party at Vivace. “It’s a really good chance to talk to and encourage voters.”
Is she ready to join the House?
“Is anybody ready?” she asked. “I’m trying to be as prepared as I can be.”
She said that preparation entails meeting people in Charlottesville and keeping a binder of issues, ideas and problems people in the district are having.
“It’s a really quick turnaround. Once tomorrow hits I’m going to start getting trained to be a delegate,” she said.
Callsen, just like the other Democrats at Vivace, are feeling quite confident about their prospects this evening and beyond.
“I think it’s going to be a great night for Democrats,” she said. “Whether we win tonight or not, we’re going to win in the future. Virginia is turning blue.”
The newest member of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors is at Vivace celebrating the second-most exciting part of his week.
Running unopposed, Mike Pruitt is a virtual lock to join the board as the Scottsville District representative. And while he’s eager to get to work, election night was overshadowed a few days earlier by his partner’s engagement proposal.
“As soon as the tears began to dry and my face was still wet, I said, ‘This weekend? This is the weekend you picked?” And he’s like, ‘Well, it had to be a surprise,’” Pruitt recounted.
A surprise indeed.
But Pruitt does not expect to be surprised by tonight’s final results. He expects himself, Bea LaPisto-Kirtley, Ann Mallek and Allison Spillman to cruise to victory.
“I think we have it in the bag,” he said. “I think we truly had deep grassroots support, and that’s what really makes the difference at the end of the day.”
The Democrats put out a strong cast of candidates, he said, adding that the other side had quality candidates too. He pointed to Meg Bryce as an example.
“I was strongly opposed to her as a candidate. I did everything I could to keep her from getting elected,” he said. “But that was a strong candidate. Meg is really talented and ran a really good campaign.”
Still, he expects Spillman to win by a good margin.
“I think the fact that [Bryce] is going to lose should speak to the fact that it’s just not the community we are anymore. I don’t think there’s any appetite left in Albemarle County anymore for regressive, reactionary politics.”
Albemarle County is still awaiting election results, but a Democratic election party at Vivace is already buzzing.
Among those in attendance are incumbent Albemarle Supervisor Bea LaPisto-Kirtley and shoe-in Mike Pruitt who faced no opponent in his race, both of whom are feeling quite confident about Democrats’ chances tonight.
“The Democrats have run a good positive campaign that I think resonated with voters. You can get more done when you’re not just complaining,” LaPisto-Kirtley told The Daily Progress, seemingly a shot at her opponent T.J. Fadeley.
She visited all six precincts in the Rivanna District today and says she convinced at least one Republican to give her his vote.
“I thought the people that came out to vote for the most part were very positive. They were enthusiastic about voting, which makes me happy because that’s what we should be doing,” she said.
As for the Vivace party? It’s off to a good start.
“It’s very exciting to experience this level of enthusiasm from so many people that want good government for our county,” she said, just before returning to her table to enjoy a cheese pizza and a beer. “I earned the pizza and I earned the Bud Light and I’m proud of it."
There’s only one remaining precinct that has not reported in the city of Charlottesville.
With 90% of the votes in, it is safe to say the city will be voting to send Democratic state Sen. Creigh Deeds back to Richmond along with fellow Democrat and House candidate Katrina Callsen.
All candidates for City Council and School Board were unopposed this year.
Mayor Lloyd Snook and city councilor Michael Payne will remain on City Council and will be joined by newcomer Natalie Oschrin.
Amanda Burns, Christopher Meyer, Nicole Richardson and Shymora N. Cooper will be joining the school board.
Nearly 10% of precincts are reporting in Albemarle County.
Democratic State Sen. Creigh Deeds is leading Republican Philip Hamilton with 70% of the vote.
Democrat Amy Laufer has a tighter race against Republican Steve Harvey. Harvey has 40% of the vote against Laufer’s 60%.
In the closely watched race for the at-large seat on the county school board, Allison Spillman leads against Meg Bryce with nearly 60% of the vote.
In what could turn into the surprise of the night, Ann Mallek, who has represented the White Hall District on the county’s board of supervisors since 2008, is down considerably in her race against military veteran, stay-at-home dad and podcaster Brad Rykal. Rykal has a little more than 55% of the vote.
Meanwhile in the White Hall District, the school board race between incumbent Rebecca Berlin and Joann McDermid is neck and neck. The votes so far are split almost clean down the middle, with Berlin having only the slightest advantage.
Voters are starting to be counted in the city of Charlottesville, with 30% of precincts reporting.
Democratic State Sen. Creigh Deeds has an unsurprising and commanding lead over his opponent Republican Philip Hamilton, with more than 91% of the total vote.
None of the candidates running for City Council, School Board or House District 54 faced an opponent this cycle.
No precincts are reporting in Albemarle County yet.
Polls have closed. While state legislative races could be critical to the future of the commonwealth, one race and one race alone was on everyone’s mind at the polls today: the battle for the at-large seat on the Albemarle School Board.
Read more to see why:
More than 15,000 voters have cast a ballot in Albemarle County as of 1 p.m., a higher turnout than usual in local races.
That’s according to Lauren Eddy, the county’s director of elections.
More than 9,000 people did in-person early voting, and 4,646 cast an early ballot by mail.
The early voting is down compared to 2022, but Eddy noted that could be because people may have been less willing to vote in-person so soon after COVID.
Polls close at 7 p.m., and results will start to roll in sometime between 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Husband and wife Travis and Lauren Skeen are less interested in the school board race and more focused on abortion.
The pro-abortion rights couple cast ballots for Democrats Creigh Deeds and Amy Laufer, who they both trust will keep abortion protected in Virginia.
Tina Glass said she is doing the same because she consistently votes for Democrats, not unlike much of the county. For her, that also includes Allison Spillman.
Because the Skeens don’t have any children, they’re more focused on reproductive rights and less on the school board race. Not thrilled with what’s happening at the political level nationally, Tuesday offered them an opportunity to be heard.
“It seems like with presidential elections and not having the best choices you just need to start at the local level,” Lauren Skeen said. “I feel more compelled to come out and vote for every election that we can. At least have a voice and a say.”
For the at-large school board race, they both voted for Spillman. How did they make their choice?
“We just picked the lady that has her kids in the school system,” Travis Skeen said.
“Yeah, we figured she probably knows what’s going on in there,” Lauren Skeen added with a laugh.
Sitting on a bench by the playground as voters walked into Woodbrook Elementary, Allison Spillman joked that she is “nauseously optimistic” about her chances today.
The race between her and Meg Bryce has been tiring for both candidates, and by this evening they both expect to learn whether their hard work has paid off.
“I always said from the beginning that on Nov. 8 I want to know that I did everything that I possibly could,” Spillman told The Daily Progress. “Whichever way it goes, I need to know in my heart that I laid it all out there.”
Spillman said she arrived to CATEC at 7 a.m. to meet voters at the polls. There she had conversations with two undecided voters, including a recent immigrant who is voting for the first time.
“She wanted to meet me and learn about the race and make sure we aligned on values,” Spillman recalled. “Then she went in and voted for me, so that was great.”
Another voter was new to the Charlottesville area. “He wasn’t really up to speed so we talked for a while and he wanted to know what was at stake in this race,” Spillman said.
A lot of voters have wanted to put a face to the name and express what they’d like to see Spillman do on the board if she wins.
There were lots of people in her corner at CATEC earlier in the morning. Spillman joked that maybe that was why her campaign manager sent her there. “To keep my morale up,” she said with a laugh.
“But it was great. A lot of teachers that were out, parents that had kids in the queer community and were super thankful that I was running, which made me feel good and encouraged,” Spillman said.
After Woodbrook she plans to visit the Mountain View Precinct and possibly return to CATEC. By 6 p.m. she hopes to head home to see her children, then head to an election party to watch the results come in.
Another long day of a hard, long campaign that will soon come to an end.
The retired bus driver vote is going to Meg Bryce.
Or at least she has the support of Frank Checchi, who was a bus driver for 23 years before he retired in June.
“I was interested in the at-large candidate for school board and to ensure that we get a more conservative state government,” he said after speaking with Bryce.
Entering Baker-Butler Elementary School, he told Bryce that “your ads on TV were right on point.”
He said he thinks Bryce can make a difference on the school board and that she understands the plight of bus drivers, although he mistakenly believed that Bryce was once a bus driver herself.
Checchi explained that it’s difficult to maintain a living wage for school bus drivers.
“You work from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., and then you’re off and you don’t come back until 2 p.m. So it’s hard to get a job between that,” he said. “And if you’re trying to support a family, it’s impossible on the salary and the time. You’re only allowed 30 or 35 hours a week.”
That’s why he thinks wages have been increased to $21 an hour. When he started the job two decades ago, the wage was $9 an hour.
“The need for bus drivers is critical, and whatever can be done to enhance the situation for the drivers, I think, would be a very good thing for the state and for the county and for the local schools,” Checchi said.
If the morning turnout at Butler Baker is any indication, the school board race between Allison Spillman and Meg Bryce will be just as close as predicted.
Most voters told The Daily Progress that the at-large seat was the race they were most interested in, and Bryce appears to have strong support.
Nina Flynn is a grandparent, so although her children aren’t attending Albemarle County Public Schools, her neighbors have been strong supporters of Bryce.
“I think she makes a lot of good points, and I agree with her stance on the issues,” Flynn said of her decision to vote Bryce.
She’s heard from her neighbor that Albemarle High School has “had a lot of issues.” That led her neighbor to campaign for Bryce.
Carmine Covais said Bryce has the “right mentality” for the job.
“It’s one of focusing on the student rather than on politics,” he said, arguing that Albemarle spends more money per student but has worse results than neighboring counties. “We don’t even have children in school, but we’re concerned about how kids are being taught.”
He and his wife worry that schools are “emphasizing sexuality,” referring to transgender and LGBTQ issues.
“That’s our opinion, and I hope it’s the opinion of most of the people who are here today,” he said.
Based on an early sample size, the race that voters are most focused on is the at-large seat on the Albemarle County School Board.
“We’re trying to keep crazy out of the school board,” voter Tom David said. He and his 21-year-old son Daniel came to Baker-Butler to support Democratic candidates Amy Laufer and Creigh Deeds because they will protect abortion rights in Virginia.
But they’re also worried about what might happen to the county school system if Meg Bryce wins election.
“Book banning. Just bullying. The anti-LGBTQ stance,” Tom David said. “And she doesn’t have any skin in the game. Her kids aren’t even in public school.”
He’s also concerned that Bryce will take public school funding and divert it to charter schools and homeschooling.
“That’s just not how public education should be,” he said.
Former librarian Cathy Palombi was also focused on the school board race. After leaving the voting booth, she told The Daily Progress she supported Allison Spillman because she’s concerned Bryce would ban books.
“We live in a democracy. We should be able to read what we want, live the way we want to live and not have people tell us what’s right and wrong,” she said. “I feel like we’re taking about 50 steps backwards with people like [Bryce].”
Bryce has previously told The Daily Progress she does not want to remove or ban books from schools.
As voters walked toward Butler-Baker Elementary on Tuesday morning, they were met by school board candidate Meg Bryce.
Bryce has been there since 7:30 a.m., and while she intended to visit other polling locations in the morning, a steady stream of voters has kept her busy at Baker-Butler.
In speaking with voters, she was surprised to hear that many in the Rivanna District were unaware that there are actually two school board races on the ballot today: her at-large race against Allison Spillman and also the district seat currently occupied by Judy Le.
Bryce is encouraging people to replace Le with Michelle de Stefano, but it will be an uphill battle. De Stefano did not meet the filing deadline and is therefore not listed on the ballot; voters will have to elect her via write-in.
Even though Bryce remains at Baker-Butler as of this writing, she has plenty of surrogates across the county. Her team has organized a robust grassroots system of volunteers, which Bryce says includes 70 volunteers at 30 precincts. Her team has designated a precinct captain for each polling location, and some volunteers started their days at 4:30 a.m. to set up tents and tables.
At Baker-Butler, Bryce said her team has been so busy that it’s ran out of sample ballots to hand to voters.
“It’s a good problem to have,” she said.