- The Washington Times - Monday, November 7, 2016

More than 100,000 registered voters in the District, almost 540,000 in Virginia and about 870,000 in Maryland, already have cast ballots in Tuesday’s general elections, according to elections officials.

D.C. officials said nearly twice as many residents took advantage of early voting this year than in the 2012 presidential election. About 57,000 voted early in 2012, and 101,077 participated in early voting from Oct. 22 to Nov. 4. Nearly 19,000 Washingtonians waited in lines for more than two hours at some polling places to pull the lever on the last day of early voting, officials said.

“Voting ran smoothly, and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive, even during peak times,” Tamara L. Robinson, voter outreach specialist for the D.C. Board of Elections, told The Washington Times. “The Q — our online tool — helped voters plan their visit to our early voting centers by providing wait times and key travel information for each center. As expected, our voting machines worked very well.”

Ms. Robinson said the BOE expects high turnout on Election Day.

“We anticipate lines, so patience is appreciated while election workers make every effort to assist voters as quickly as possible,” she said.

In addition to electing D.C. Council members, voters in the District will approve or reject a referendum for statehood. They will decide whether to endorse a draft constitution that would create a 21-seat state legislature and change the District’s executive from a mayor to a governor.

The constitution measure includes new borders for what would become the State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth.

The White House, the U.S. Capitol and the National Mall would be carved out as a separate federal enclave.

The statehood measure is expected to pass despite what some supporters have called a rushed process that hasn’t engaged residents. If approved, there’s a long and challenging road ahead for statehood in the District — a road that takes it through Congress.

Early voting in Virginia ended Saturday afternoon, and about 100,000 more votes were cast this year than in the same period in 2012, officials said.

Fairfax County accounted for about 116,000 of Virginia’s 540,000 early votes. Arlington County registered 37,000 early votes, and Prince William County 48,000.

Virginia Democrats historically have come out in larger numbers during early voting. In 2012, about 244,000 Democrats voted early compared to 188,000 Republicans. In 2008, 307,000 Democrats voted early compared to about 183,000 Republicans.

The major contest in Virginia is in the 10th Congressional District, where Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock is in a pitched battle with Democratic challenger LuAnn Bennett.

In Maryland, early voting was extended by three days — from Oct. 27 to Nov. 3 — and 870,000 registered voters (about 22 percent) took advantage of it, more than twice the number (430,000) who voted early in 2012, officials said.

About one-third of eligible voters in Montgomery County and about 27 percent in Prince George’s County cast ballots before Election Day.

Like in Virginia, Democrats cast the lion’s share of early votes in Maryland, where they outnumber Republicans 2-to-1. Nearly 65 percent of early votes were cast by Democrats.

In the top contest, Marylanders will decide who will replace U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski — Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen or Republican state Delegate Kathy Szeliga. Miss Mikulski, a Democrat, is retiring after having served 30 years in the Senate — the longest-serving woman in that chamber.

 


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