- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 8, 2000

A neck-and-neck presidential race, key congressional contests and some sunny weather attracted long lines of voters to area polls yesterday, forcing some to wait hours to cast a ballot.

Voters who turned out at the Annie B. Rose House, a high rise for senior citizens in Alexandria, Va.,found themselves waiting two hours in the morning. The City Hall precinct was crowded, too, as many sought to cast their ballot and get to work.

"We have a heavy turnout. We had a heavy turnout on absentee ballots," said Linda Green of the Alexandria registrar's office. "It's not surprising considering how tight the [presidential] race is."

Officials in Arlington, Va., said they were on track for a new turnout record of more than 80 percent.

Not all of the wait time was attributed to turnout. Registration problems and a new Virginia law requiring voters to show identification contributed to delays.

D.C. congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat, said she ran into a crowd of voters when she cast her ballot on Capitol Hill. She reported a heavy turnout at polling locations she visited throughout the city.

In Maryland, election judges at Rock View Elementary School in Kensington said voters were waiting in line when polls opened at 7 a.m., and continued to vote through the morning at the rate of "10 a minute."

"This is the biggest turnout I have seen in 25 years," said George Sloan, chief elections judge at the Shaare Tefila Congregation Center in Silver Spring.

By about 2 p.m., there had been at least 650 ballots cast there, he said.

When Stuart Harvey, an administrator of the Montgomery County Elections Board, went to pick up midday boxes, he said he thought he "was going to have a hernia."

Some voters ran into a peculiar problem at the George Meany Center in Silver Spring. Those left off the voter rolls were instructed to call a series of numbers to clear up the matter.

But chief election judge Paul Rydell said none of the phone numbers was working. When he called the numbers, he got a recording saying he reached a nonworking number at Lockheed-Martin.

"We've got people very mad at us," Mr. Rydell said. "We've had eight or nine people who have been turned down and can't vote. So far, this has been a total disaster."

As expected, the choice between Vice President Al Gore, the Democrat, and Texas Gov. George W. Bush, the Republican, elicited the most reaction at local polling places.

"I dressed in black because I think Mr. Gore is going to lose," said Patricia Chiriboga-Roby, who voted for the vice president anyway. "People are swayed by Bush's personality. People identify with Bush, but we're not electing someone to have breakfast with."

Cherie Angle, a nurse and registered Democrat from Hagerstown, voted for Mr. Gore "just to keep things going the way they are."

D.C. resident Angela Casey, a consultant who describes herself as against big government and the increased limits on states' rights, said she was voting for Mr. Bush.

"His record in Texas is strong. Texas is like a small country in itself. I don't know what Gore has done in eight years at the White House," said Ms. Casey, 30, who lives in Northwest D.C.

In Silver Spring, Dolly Benoff said she had split tickets in the past "I voted for Eisenhower" but went Democratic this time "because several important issues are at stake."

"Social Security, health care reform, the Supreme Court justices, gun control I support the Democratic stand on these issues, and definitely on [reproductive] choice," she said.

Coming to vote at Alexandria's City Hall like he has since he was 18, 34-year-old Craig Miller said the issues are a driving force for many younger voters coming to the polls.

"Social Security is not going to be around," Mr. Miller said, noting that in casting his vote for a straight Republican ticket, he's sending a message.

Friends Trudy Doliante and Ruth Eller, both elderly residents of Falls Church, Va., wouldn't say what presidential candidate they voted for, but they hinted it was Mr. Bush.

When asked what issues were important, Mrs. Eller said, "Just getting Clinton out of the White House."

Sam Jordan, retired director of the D.C. Emergency Management Agency, predicted Mr. Gore would prevail.

"The race for president is going to be close, but I think Gore will hit it with between 3 and 5 percent. I think we need this win for the sake of the country continuing in a positive manner … bringing all races together and continuation of economic development.

Local races for seats in the Senate and House of Representatives enticed others.

Nancy McClellan, 50, voted for Mr. Bush and Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, the Republican congressman for the Northern Virginia district.

But she cast her Senate ballot for Charles S. Robb, the Democratic senator defending his Virginia seat against former Gov. George F. Allen, the Republican.

Mrs. McClellan, who owns an antique store in the District, planned to vote for Mr. Allen, but Mr. Robb's demeanor at the end of the campaign swayed her.

"Robb's a nice guy. He doesn't grandstand," she said. "He put himself above the backbiting. His maturity attracted me during all the fights. He stayed above it. George Allen talks a lot."

Carine Newberry, with her 2-year-old son, Grant, in tow, voted straight Democrat in Falls Church because she supports abortion rights, education and gun control.

"I'd like to help get back seats in Congress for Democrats," Mrs. Newberry said.

While Rep. Constance A. Morella, Maryland Republican, is "great for Montgomery County," Ronald Schlesinger of Silver Spring said he voted against her "just because she is a Republican."

The lure of presidential and congressional politics didn't attract every voter.

"What draws me to the polls is that I'm a Christian, and it's a Christian duty to vote," said John Cooper, 63, of Midwood Lane in Bowie.

Clayton Jackson, 26, an American University student and a product of D.C. public schools, said he supports the idea of a hybrid school board.

"I think it's a good thing that it's part elected and part appointed," he said, but he added the most important issue for him is "taxation without representation."

Northeast resident Inez Dillard, 71, voted for Democrat Harold Brazil to be at-large D.C. Council member.

But, she said, "I also wrote Marion Barry's name in that space on the ballot for at-large because Marion Barry stood up for the people. He wasn't a yes man. He was a man that stood on his own."

For one Democratic voter in Pasadena, Md., cynicism was in the autumn air.

"I think [all politicians] lie. They all cheat. They all say whatever they have to to get into office, then do what they want after they get elected," said the 56-year-old school bus driver, who identified herself only as "Lewis."

"I'm just here to support my party and hope and pray they do the right thing."

• Carleton Bryant, Vaishali Honawar, Arlo Wagner, Jim Keary, Margie Hyslop, Daniel F. Drummond, Marlene L. Johnson, Carol Johnson, Ellen Sorokin and John Drake contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire service reports.

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