Every vote counts in two Northern Virginia campaigns

In two Northern Virginia elections Tuesday night — in Clifton in Fairfax County and Haymarket in Prince William County — there were more town council seats open than there were candidates on the ballot, which resulted in some competitive write-in campaigns.

In the Haymarket election, one incumbent decided not to run for re-election, but later changed her mind, forcing her to run as a write-in candidate.

Several other residents had also declared write-in campaigns.

In Clifton, an incumbent missing the filing deadline left an opening on the ballot.

With only 209 registered voters, residents in Clifton are greeted by applause just for showing up to the town's polling place.

"This is not exactly a high turnout race," said Fairfax County General Registrar Cameron Quinn with a laugh.

That there are more open seats on the town council than there are candidates on the ballot means at least one write-in candidate will become a council member.

"Somebody could win with just a couple of car loads of people willing to do a write-in for the same person," said Monica Horan, chief election officer for the polling place.

In Haymarket, where Mary Lou Scarbrough decided not to run for re-election before changing her mind, five residents were motivated to put their names in the running as write-in candidates.

"I've lived here for 11 years, and it's so easy to sit back and let soemone else do it, but I thought, let's do it, take a swing, and see what happens," said Jim Smith, one of those running in Haymarket.

Results are available in Clifton, where the mayor and all five incumbments were re-elected to the town council. Winners include Deborah Dillard, who inadvertently missed the filing deadline, but still collected 23 write-in votes.

Official winners in Haymarket are still unknown, but 733 total write-in votes have been reported, according to election officials.