Republicans in Alexandria may have played role in electing the Democratic candidate for mayor. That’s because Virginia voters do not register as Democrats or Republicans. So when they show up to the polls, they either ask for a Republican ballot or a Democratic ballot. It’s a system that has its roots in the conservative political organization that ran the state’s politics for half a century.
“This is a legacy of the Byrd machine. In the days of the Byrd machine, the most conservative Democrat would win the primary if the primary was open to all voters,” says Stephen Farnsworth, political science professor at the University of Mary Washington.
“Sometimes the Democrats feel sabotaged. Sometimes the Republicans feel sabotaged. But I really think that concern is misplaced. There isn’t enough participation from people who belong to the party to convince me that there’s a huge movement to sabotage the other in primaries,” he adds.