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‘Presence at the Polls:’ UpVote Virginia launches 2022 voter outreach program

Rebecca Barnabi
Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol, Carlos De Castro Pretelt (Veterans for Political Innovation volunteer), Michael Cantwell (Veterans for Political Innovation, FairVote Virginia VP), UpVote Virginia Executive Director Liz White and Janet Martin (UpVote Virginia volunteer) launch Presence at the Polls. Courtesy of UpVote Virginia.

Several days of advocacy began last weekend with the launch of Presence at the Polls.

A newly-formed nonpartisan democracy reform collective, Presence at the Polls is a flagship voter outreach program by UpVote Virginia.

According to a press release, nearly 100 volunteers in 18 Virginia localities will speak directly with early voters about Ranked Choice Voting (RCV), which is UpVote’s primary focus ahead of the 2023 General Assembly session. Before polls close on Election Day, advocates will meet with voters in Alexandria, Albemarle, Arlington, Charlottesville, Chesterfield, Fairfax, Fredericksburg, Hampton, Henrico, Lynchburg, Montgomery, Norfolk, Prince William, Richmond, Roanoke, Salem, Staunton and Virginia Beach.

UpVote Executive Director Liz White spoke with voters on Sunday, October 30 at the Walter Reed Community Center and the Ellen M. Bozman Government Center in Arlington. She was joined by advocates from FairVote Virginia, Veterans for Political Innovation, and Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol, who is the chief patron of a resolution to adopt RCV in Arlington County Board primaries in 2023.

“The more people learn about Ranked Choice Voting, the more they like it,” White said in the press release. “I was thrilled to meet so many engaged voters over the weekend in Arlington, where UpVote Virginia is partnering with several other nonpartisan democracy reform groups to make sure RCV gets adopted later this year.”

Previously known as OneVirginia2021, UpVote’s Presence at the Polls was its most successful program. COVID-19 prevented the program in the last two years.

“I’ve advocated for Ranked Choice Voting as a way to make our voting process more representative and participatory while also incentivizing candidates who build consensus,” Cristol said in the press release. “I’m grateful for the leadership of UpVote Virginia in building momentum for Arlington’s RCV resolution, and for the hundreds of Arlingtonians who have shared their thoughts with my colleagues and me.”

 

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.

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