Alexandria Registrar Tom Parkins will head off into retirement at the end of the month, but not before he helps oversee the conclusion of the closest statewide election in Virginia history.
Early Monday, Parkins and his staff began tabulating a hand recount of the city’s ballots for attorney general as the state moves toward a conclusion to the race between state Sens. Mark Herring and Mark Obenshain.
Luckily for Parkins, he’ll have an official garment to keep order between representatives from both campaigns.
The Alexandria Democratic Committee and the Alexandria Republican City Committee came together at Port City Brewing Co. last week to honor Parkins’ 13 years of overseeing elections in the city.
ADC Chair Dak Hardwick , who called Parkins “the premier election official in the state of Virginia,” handed him a referee shirt to commemorate his work in the city.
“Once I started working in politics and elections, I never felt like I was working a day in my life,” said Parkins, an Iowa native who worked as an election official in Des Moines for many years before becoming an elections consultant.
In his consultancy role, Parkins traveled to former Soviet countries as they began to implement their first democratic elections.
Parkins came to Alexandria in 2000, a year he said brought much upheaval in elections administration as the process moved with technical advancements.
He said a big issue facing his office after he leaves would be Virginia’s new voter ID law, which will be rolled out next year.
“It’s going to take a lot of outreach, but I think it’s doable,” Parkins said.
Next year, voters will not be allowed to use their voter cards as the lone form of identification. They will also need a valid driver’s ID or passport. That could be a deterrent to seniors who no longer drive or travel.
Parkins’ office will be allowed to issue ID cards for voting purposes. It’s something he knows his staff is up for.
“They will not miss a beat when I walk out the door,” Parkins said.