- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 8, 2016

On Election Day in 2008, lines were long, enthusiasm was high and voters were excited in the District.

That’s how Jackie Ward, a 62-year-old Southeast resident, recalled the atmosphere at Anacostia Neighborhood Library, where residents patiently waited in a line that covered 20 blocks.

But Tuesday, as people trickled into the polling location, they were greeted with a significantly shorter wait or even no line at all.

“To tell you the truth, I’ve never seen this little excitement,” said Ms. Ward, who has voted in every presidential race since 1972. “This election has been absolutely salacious and I’m glad it’s coming to an end.”

It hasn’t always been this way. Ms. Ward, a Democrat, says previous Republican presidential candidates caught her attention and a few even earned her respect. That wasn’t the case this year.

“We saw the candidates get to such a low level and really appeal to the lowest of human dignity,” she said. “With [Donald] Trump, I just tuned in to hear what crazy things would come out of his mouth and I think a lot of people did the same.”

Across the metropolitan area, voters on both sides of the isle shared her level of enthusiasm for the election’s conclusion.

“This election has been a complete Dumpster fire,” said Kate Gaziano, 22, who waited an hour to cast her ballot Tuesday morning in Arlington. “Both parties literally picked the worst candidate they possibly could.”

In 2012, Ms. Gaziano was a first-time voter and proud Mitt Romney supporter.

“Back then, I was genuinely excited for the people I was voting for,” she said. “This year, it’s totally different. At this point, I’m just glad it’s almost over and that I can turn my focus onto next year’s elections in Virginia, where there are candidates I can be excited to support.”

Despite the lack of enthusiasm, poll workers and activists staked out at several of the District’s precincts said turnout was steady throughout the day.

“This morning, we saw a 43-year-old man who voted for the first time,” said Angela Peoples, a Black Youth Project 100 activist who spoke with voters at Anacostia Neighborhood Library. “Whatever moved him to vote this year for the first time is meaningful and says a lot about this year and this moment.”

Outside Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary, Hazel Batchelor spent the day encouraging voters to support her nephew, Markus Batchelor, who was on the ballot to represent Ward 8 on the D.C. State Board of Education.

“It’s extremely important that everyone exercises their right to vote,” said Ms. Batchelor. “No matter who it’s for — Democrat, Republican or other — it’s important that people make their voice heard.”

And her friend Linda Gibbs agreed.

“My great-grandmother was a slave who lived to be 119 years old,” she said. “I exercise my voting rights every way possible to make her proud because every single vote matters.”

For Rebekah Swieringa, a first-year graduate student at George Washington University, her vote in Calvert County, Maryland, came with a sigh of relief.

“The moment I cast my ballot I felt at peace,” said Ms. Swieringa. “This election has just been ugly, vicious and a misrepresentation of what America stands for.”

“I don’t think the election will really be over until the news coverage calms down, but I’m really happy it’s over,” she said.

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