- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 2, 2004

Scenes and observations from around the metropolitan area on Election Day:

Maryland

Christina Courtright, a student at the University of Maryland at College Park, said that after two hours, she gave up waiting for a promised-but-never-delivered provisional ballot.

When Miss Courtright arrived at the polls, she was not listed as registered, because, she said, her information was mistakenly deleted from the rolls when she moved from Montgomery to Prince George’s County.

When she asked to be given a provisional ballot, an elections official said some were on the way. Two hours later Miss Courtright, and about 10 others who were also told they were not registered, still had not been allowed to vote.

“We waited for two hours for them to get there,” Miss. Courtright said, “but I was by the judge that because I was a provisional voter it wouldn’t count anyway, so I gave up.”

***

Voters turned out in droves during the morning rush, but some precincts looked like ghost towns by closing time.

“We almost never close at 8 p.m. sharp,” said Vernon Behanna, polling chief at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville. He was holding a three-by-five card in his hand that said, “This card is given to last voter in line at 8 p.m.”

He said the card is usually given to the last person in line when the poles close so that everyone there on time will be able to cast their ballot.

Last night, however, At 7:55 p.m. Mr. Behanna stood holding the card with nobody to hand it too.

“There is no one left. The whole darn precinct voted this morning,” he said. “It was amazing.”

Mr. Behanna said he has been working at that precinct for 20 years and had never seen such a wonderful turnout.

“This was a record for us,” he said.

Virginia

Eric Lundberg stood sipping coffee in the pre-dawn darkness at 5:45 a.m. on the front steps of the Fairfax County Republican Committee Headquarters yesterday.

“I’m having a ball, as much of a ball as I can have on three hours of sleep,” said Mr. Lundberg, the committee chairman.

He and election consultant Carol Ann Coryell, the former secretary and chairman of the county’s board of elections, were the first ones to arrive at the modified townhome, in preparation for the 6 a.m. poll opening.

At 5:57, Mr. Lundberg received the first report of a problem. Republican observers were not being allowed into the Shrevewood and Providence polling precincts early so they could make sure voting machines’ counters were set to zero.

“Let’s start the paperwork,” Mr. Lundberg announced.

Mrs. Coryell said those precincts were heavily Democrat.

“They know better,” she said.

Other volunteers poured in at 6.

“Why do you guys start this so early?” said the county party’s general counsel Chris Craig, who was overseeing their legal effort to monitor voting problems.

Mr. Craig, wearing a polo shirt, jeans and sneakers, wiped sleep from his eyes and noted the lack of coffee in the office. The only stirrers available for the coffee were lollipops left over from Halloween.

For the next thirty minutes, Mr. Craig, Mrs. Coryell and fellow Republican attorney Chris Barnakov sat around a conference table in the townhome basement, reviewing their plans for the day in between interruptions from Mr. Lundberg and other staffers, who came downstairs with questions from voters calling in.

Volunteer Mike Thompson excitedly handed Mr. Craig his Blackberry mobile phone and said a volunteer had spotted Democrats handing out literature to voters standing inside the precinct. The volunteer had resolved the situation, but Mr. Craig told him to document it anyway, then ran upstairs to hand Mr. Thompson his phone and tell him he had no idea how to turn it off.

“I’m trying to push everything through this building, so before we do anything crazy somebody here makes a decision,” he said.

Mr. Barnakov leaned back in his chair.

“I think I’m in a John Kerry chair,” he said. “It’s got no backbone.”

***

In Springfield precinct 110, voter turnout was good, said Daniel Walsch, the precinct’s chief election officer. As of 3:30 p.m., Tuesday over 2,000 people had already voted.

“It’s been non-stop all day, but it’s gone really smoothly,” Mr. Walsch said.

At North Springfield Elementary school where the polling was held, Kerry/Edwards signs could be seen covering a brick wall on the drive in, with a lonely Bush/Cheney sign to break up the trend.

***

District

Voting was smooth at John Burroughs Elementary in Northeast, despite heavy turnout and one early morning glitch.

At least two voters were mistakenly given provisional ballots for areas outside their precint when officials could not find their names on voter registries.

“They gave us the wrong ballot,” said Shawn Stringfield, a 31-year-old audiovisual technician. “So they told us to write his [ANC-candidate Rudolph Knott] name in.”

The precint captain acknowledged the mistake but said the issue was resolved quickly and that Mr. Stringfield’s vote for Knott was recorded accurately.

But Mr. Knott, 41, said he was concerned that other voters may have received the wrong ballot without realizing the error.

“I’m hoping it doesn’t affect the outcome, but if it gets close, then we’ll have to see about contesting the results.” he said.

Jon Ward, Arlo Wagner, Denise Barnes, Tarron Lively, Gary Emerling, Judith Person, Subodh Mishra, Joseph Bacchus, Rachael Jackson, Amy Doolittle and Sarah Hoffman contributed to these articles.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide