Slow but steady stream turns out for Va. vote

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Virginia residents went to polling stations across the commonwealth Tuesday to vote in state and local elections, creating a slow but steady turnout amid some voting-machine malfunctions and confusion about new voting districts and where to cast ballots.

Officials at several Fairfax County polling stations said people confused about where to vote were assisted by volunteers in finding the correct site.

“It’s very minor confusion,” said Jeremy Dick, chief election officer at Key Middle School in Springfield. “We’ve had probably two people that came to the wrong area.”

The middle school polling site was otherwise quiet, with mostly retirees walking through the gymnasium doors to cast their vote. Even the new voting directions in Spanish, newly required in Fairfax County under the Voting Rights Act, were greeted with neutrality.

“I haven’t heard comments one way or another,” Mr. Dick said.

But in Montgomery County, some voters were given wrong ballots and likely voted in the wrong races, the AP reported.

Officials were expecting a low voter turnout based on results from 2003 and 2007, the last two elections in which all 140 General Assembly seats were on the ballot.

Preliminary results were not available as of early Tuesday evening.

The state Board of Elections reported typical Election Day issues such as incorrect powering of electronic pollbooks and campaign volunteers violating the 40-ft. perimeter rule. In Henrico County, nearly 1,000 voters were not listed at their correct polling locations, requiring 19 precincts to switch to paper pollbooks and provide provisional ballots to each voter.

On Tuesday morning, Fairfax County Supervisor Jeff McKay greeted voters with handshakes at the Greenspring senior living community in Springfield. Mr. McKay said he had yet to encounter problems with voters confused about recently-redrawn district lines, but that he anticipated some problems by the end of the day.

“If someone gets to their polling place and they’re told it’s the wrong precinct, people will get frustrated,” he said. “I’m telling my people: If you see somebody get turned away, make sure you help them get to the right voting precinct.”

At about 11:30 a.m. in Rosslyn, a trickle of voters made its way to the fire station on Wilson Boulevard, where it was a similarly quiet despite the sunny lunch hour and packs of young professionals making their way down the sidewalk.

“There are a couple races that suffice to say, there’s been a lot of interest with,” said Aaron Webb, precinct chief at the Rosslyn Fire Station 10. “There’s been about 300 voters. We’re feeling pretty excited about that.”

“It’s a shame how little people know about local elections,” said Rosslyn resident Don Leppla as he exited his polling site “Sadly it’s not just here, but everywhere.”

Mr. Leppla, 71, and his friend, Nicky Hughes, 78, said that every November election they make a day of walking to the polling site, then having lunch in Washington where they buy the latest White House Christmas ornament.

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