- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 7, 2001

Virginia voters yesterday turned out in fewer numbers than in past elections, but those who did vote said they were driven by an increased sense of civic duty and responsibility.
Sue Caddingan, 38, a multimedia designer, said voting yesterday was especially important.
"Because we are at war," she said outside the Potomac View School in Woodbridge.
Voting demonstrates unity, pride and support in the American way, she added. "I guess it's a civil obligation, a civil duty, especially in these times."
In more than six decades, 86-year-old John Wentz said he has missed voting "only a couple times" because he was overseas.
"I always vote. I always vote Republican," said Mr. Wentz outside Weems Elementary School in Manassas. He said he expects to vote in many more elections.
"I voted a straight Republican ticket because I'm a self-avowed right-wing extremist," said James D. Lassiter, 34, a laboratory technician, of Woodbridge.
Of the 4.1 million registered voters in the state an estimated 40 percent to 50 percent voted, according to Cameron Quinn, secretary of the State Board of Elections. Both parties feared the September 11 terrorist attacks might distract voters from coming to the polls. In 1997, the last gubernatorial election, 49.5 percent of registered voters turned out.
But along with the voters, volunteers were in the precincts yesterday handing out sample ballots, tracking turnout, giving rides to polling places and calling to remind people to get to the polls.
"They're out there because they believe in the process, they believe in the party and they believe in the candidate," said Joe Underwood, chairman of the Fairfax Republican Party. "I believe that will reap us benefits at the end of the day."
Emma Niemiec was one of the party's foot soldiers. For two hours yesterday at Woodley Hills Elementary School in Alexandria, she handed out the yellow sample ballots that highlighted the names of Republican candidates.
"I think it's my civic duty," Mrs. Niemiec said. Afterward, she planned to drive people to the polls who didn't have a ride and otherwise might not have voted.
"You can't use an excuse, because that one vote could make a difference," she said.
Andrew Painter volunteered a few miles away at Mount Vernon Woods Elementary School. He distributed the blue sample ballots with Democratic candidates highlighted. Mr. Painter, 21, said he's volunteered at polling places for the last five years.
"The ability to come out here is one thing, but when you have a promising candidate, it really does motivate you," he said.
But there was some disappointment among volunteers that more people didn't take advantage of their right to vote, especially after the terrorist attacks.
"Even after September 11, we still take for granted some of those liberties," Mr. Painter said.
"Our right to vote was paid for pretty heavily," said retired Army Col. George S. Webb, who spent two hours serving as a poll watcher at Woodley Hills. Mr. Webb called turnout yesterday afternoon "pretty moderate."
In Alexandria, at the Lee Recreation Center, Democratic precinct director Deb Tompary said turnout through yesterday afternoon was light. Miss Tompary arrived at the polling place at 6:30 a.m. and planned to stay until the polls closed at 7 p.m.
"Voting is not a duty, it's a privilege," she said.
Most voters seemed to like modern computerized voting machines in use yesterday at two Arlington polls. After brief instructions, they simply touched the screen over the names of the candidates they chose at Glebe School on North Glebe Road, and Claremont Early Childhood Center on South Chesterfield Road.
"I liked it. I'm surprised. I was a little afraid. I'm not a computer person," said Sadie Salisbury, 78, after voting at the Claremont school in the community where she has lived about 40 years.
Howard Berkowitz, 53, said he liked the new machines "very much" for their speed and clear-visibility screens.
"I've built a lot of touch screens, and this is one of the best I've ever seen," said Mr. Berkowitz, pointing out that the voting machines had write-in capabilities for voters who chose candidates not listed on the ballot.


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