Election-night nightmares

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VirginiaArizona Sen. John McCain

\ Voter turnout was high, despite winds and freezing rain that made driving harder later in the day.\

\ Former Gov. Jim Gilmore, for example, was stuck for more than seven hours on the icy Route 1 off-ramp on Route 95, causing him to miss a speaking gig with former House Majority Leader Dick Armey at American University in The District and then Arizona\0x2019s Sen. John McCain’s victory rally last night in Alexandria.\

\ “Him and about 40 other cars were stuck there from about 3:30 p.m until almost 11 p.m. when VDOT finally showed up to rescue them and salt the off-ramp,” said Ana M. Gamonal, spokesperson for Gilmore’s U.S. 2008 Senate campaign. “This new off ramp is almost 2 miles long and goes up and loops around, and with the ice storm, cars could not make there way up and were skidding backwards — forcing everyone to wait it out.”\

\ While Gilmore was able to vote, others were not, thanks to Mother Nature.\

\ Minutes before the polls closed at 7 p.m. last night, I asked Gov. Time Kaine about reports of major problems in the so-called “Mixing Bowl” in Springfield.\

\ He said, “I have just heard the classic end-of-day, slow traffic situation may be a little exacerbated by the weather. It is creating some challenges, but that it kind of a norm on these election nights toward the end.”\

\ Gordon Hickey, the governor’s spokesperson, just responded to an e-mail I sent him today, saying: \

\ “There is no statutory authority that would have allowed the Governor or the State Board of Elections to extend the hours of last night’s election,” he said. “The statute is 24.2-603, and it establishes that the polls shall be open at 6 a.m. and closed at 7 p.m. The only exception is that voters in line at 7 p.m. are to be allowed to vote.”\

\ Asked whether Virginia could have followed Maryland’s lead, Mr. Hickey said “a judge could probably do it, but it is unknown territory.”\

\ We’d like to hear some of your horror stories from last night, including whether the storm stopped you from making it to the polls.\

\ — Seth McLaughlin, Virginia politics reporter, The Washington Times

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