POLITICS

D.C.-region voters greeted with lines, equipment problems at the polls

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Politics,Local,DC,Liz Farmer,Abby Hamblin

Voters in the District battled long lines and faulty election equipment Tuesday morning as D.C. braced for what some are predicting could be a record turnout for the city.

Many poll workers arrived before 7 a.m. to find dozens -- and in some cases more than 100 -- residents already queued up to cast their vote. Voters reported waiting up to two hours in some places, many noting that their polling location having just one electronic voting machine did not help the process move along. Polling places also had just one ballot scanner for the paper ballots, which also caused a second backup inside the polls for those waiting to cast their ballot.

Equipment breakdowns were also a theme throughout the day. At Precinct 38 in Northwest, the long waits were made worse when election workers discovered that the electronic voting machines they had did not work.

Precinct captain Jeanette Carroll said that workers did what they could in the morning to keep the line moving. Still, the line wound around inside the room in which the polls were located at Cesar Chavez Prep Charter School, and then stretched outside the building and down the block, Carroll said.

At the Metropolitan AME Church on M Street NW, the machine scanning the paper ballots had jammed by early afternoon, and election workers said they had been keeping ballots in an auxiliary bin until it got fixed.

"It's actually almost full," said Adam Lukoskie, captain for Precinct 17. "I'm hoping before that happens a technician arrives to fix the machine or that the lines slow down so we can fiddle around with it a little bit more without causing a significant bottleneck."

Adding to the delays is the high voter turnout. As of 1 p.m. Tuesday, nearly 900 people had voted at Precinct 38, the highest number Carroll said she has ever seen. By noon, her precinct had already run out of English "I voted" stickers, sample ballots and voter registration forms. Other precincts around the city reported similar numbers, which steadily climbed throughout the day. Precinct captains said the numbers were at least comparable to the 2008 turnout -- a record-setting 62 percent of registerec voters -- or even higher.

"This is a super election," Carroll said. "We've had more people this morning then the entire election day [in 2008]... I've been voting in this city for 48 years and have never seen anything like this. It's a wonderful thing."

At Precinct 17, the lines were just dying down around 2 p.m. and nearly 1,500 voters had cast their ballot, according to Lukoskie.

Voter interest has been so high that at Precinct 109 in Southeast, a D.C. teen who was turning 18 in December showed up to the Randle-Highlands Elementary School trying to find a way to vote, that precinct's captain said.

lfarmer@washingtonexaminer.com

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