- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 7, 2006

3:53 p.m.

Renee Whitlock of Bowie was hoping to beat the Election Day rush by arriving at her polling station to vote at 6:45 a.m.

Two hours later, Mrs. Whitlock wearily emerged from Maryland’s District 7, Precinct 11 polling station at Evangel Cathedral in Largo after finally casting her ballot.

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“Some people just had to walk away because they had been waiting so long,” said Mrs. Bowie, who works for the federal government in the District. “It’s been frustrating, but [voting] is important, so I just stuck it out.”

Throughout the morning, voters in this largely black, mostly Democratic county waited two hours to vote. By midday, the average wait time had increased to 2 1/2 hours.

Some minor glitches with the precinct’s voter-card reading machines might have contributed to the morning backlog, but the long waits mostly were the result of heavy voter turnout, poll workers said.

“We have 18 voting machines, and they’re all working fine,” said Gloria Moore, the precinct’s Democratic chief judge. “There’s nothing else we could do — we have enough workers, and they’re working hard. We just need more [voting machines].”

Many longtime Prince George’s voters said they never had waited so long to vote, even in presidential elections.

“This is an incredible turnout,” said Rep. Albert R. Wynn, Maryland Democrat, who stopped by the precinct this morning. “We need more voting machines here. That just tells you the voter turnout in Prince George’s County is increasing dramatically.”

Curtis Townsell, 69, of Upper Marlboro, blamed technology for the longer lines.

“The old ballots with the levers, people were familiar with them,” he said. “I think the new technology, and the rush to get the data flow out right away, is kind of slowing down the process.”

“History has shown that the machines are far more accurate than paper, so we’re quite confident in it,” Miss Cobb said. “There is absolutely no reason to believe that there will be any security issues, any hacking going on.”

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