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Local Efforts Contributed to US Presidential Elections

Americans vote in the US Presidential Election 2016, at JEB Stuart High School, Fairfax, Virginia, on Tuesday morning, November 8, 2016. (Men Kimseng/VOA Khmer)

Voter turnout in Fairfax was high at 70 to 80 percent compared to the national level, where fewer than half of the electorate voted.

​The highly charged nature of the recent U.S. presidential election, which saw a surprise victory for the Republican candidate, Donald Trump, led to a surge in local campaigning.

Carol Marek, Democratic Party precinct captain for Lynbrook, arrived at her post at Lynbrook Elementary School, before the polling station had opened.

“I organize volunteers and what we do is we greet the voters as they come in and give them a sample of democratic ballot to let them know who our candidates are and our position on the ballot issues,” Marek said.

As well as trying to convince the electorate to vote for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, Marek sees local issues as important, such as taxes on per-prepared food and beverages, known as the meals tax.

“Well, I think the big one is school funding,” she said. “I think the schools need more money to reduce classroom size and also to increase pay for teachers, so this meals tax we have will raise $70 million that will go to the school budget.”

At another polling station, at JEB Stuart High School, volunteers also tried to convince voters, but were kept at least 12 meters from the polling station due to state law.

Paul Anderson, chief of the Falls Church precinct, said the volunteers were there to “assist” voters.

“We also allow people who are unable to get into the precinct to vote at curbside if they are older or they have physical limitations,” he said, “but we have lots of signs inside on how to fill out the ballots. We have people who can advise you without looking at the ballot in terms of how to fill it out.”

Other than a few minor complaints, Anderson said there had been no irregularities reported, going against claims that the election was “rigged”.

“It’s certainly not happening here,” he said.

“People from both parties have to have participated in that. And they all have to sign that they see that it’s fair. So there are a lot cross-checks, too, so it would be difficult to alter the results without it is being obvious to someone and then it’s checked again when it gets to the county the rest of this week. So there is no doubt that this is a fair election.”

A Cambodian-American voter, Lim Rattana, from Falls Church, was a swing voter.

“I always change the candidate I vote for,” Rattana said. “I don’t vote for one party forever or want anyone to run for life. We have to change to see new leadership or different views to better lead the country.”

In this election, Rattana voted for Clinton.

“I’ve chosen Hillary Clinton because I believe that she is competent in leading our country,” he said. “She has good internal and external relations and she is reasonable. For Donald Trump, he is okay, but he is not a real politician. He is simply a businessman and his talk does not satisfy me.”

Voter turnout in Fairfax was high at 70 to 80 percent compared to the national level, where fewer than half of the electorate voted.