Bal­lot short­ages mar polls.

Vot­ers wait hours as turnout mis­judged

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY JU­LIA AIREY

Some vot­ers in the Dis­trict and Prince Ge­orge’s County waited hours to vote Tues­day as of­fi­cials who had un­der­es­ti­mated voter turnout scram­bled to re­place bal­lots and bro­ken equip­ment.

Hun­dreds of vot­ers at Brandy­wine Ele­men­tary School in Prince Ge­orge’s County waited more than three hours for bal­lots Tues­day night af­ter the precinct had run out, and oth­ers at the Up­per Marl­boro Com­mu­nity Cen­ter waited more than two hours for more bal­lots, ac­cord­ing to vot­ers’ so­cial me­dia posts.

The non­profit group Pizza to the Polls told The Wash­ing­ton Times that it do­nated 328 piz­zas to vot­ers wait­ing in line in Mary­land and the Dis­trict. Co­founder Scott Dun­combe said he’s happy to keep vot­ers fed, but is “bummed we have to ex­ist.”

Prince Ge­orge’s County’s elec­tions Ad­min­is­tra­tor Alisha Alexan­der told WUSA-TV that the bal­lot de­liv­ery took so long be­cause “when we re­al­ized it was an is­sue, it was in the mid­dle of rush hour.”

Ms. Alexan­der added that bal­lot sup­plies were based on 2016 voter turnout. But in an in­ter­view with WTOP Ra­dio, she said the county’s voter turnout this year was down about 10 per­cent from the 2016 elec­tion.

The Times could not re­solve the dis­crep­ancy. Nei­ther Ms. Alexan­der nor the Mary­land State Board of Elec­tions re­turned mul­ti­ple phone calls seek­ing com­ment.

D.C. vot­ers at East­ern Mar­ket’s North Hall also faced long waits, with the line zigzag­ging in­side the hall and ex­tend­ing out the doors ap­proach­ing North Carolina Av­enue.

“The only time I can re­mem­ber lines is when Obama got elected,” said Kath­leen Brown, 59, adding that she has cast her bal­lot at East­ern Mar­ket for 30 years.

The cul­prit was the precinct’s one bal­lot box ma­chine, which jammed. D.C. Board of Elec­tions spokes­woman Rachel Coll said the precinct has al­ways had only one ma­chine, but board records show this is the first year that North Hall has served vot­ers in two precincts, 88 and 89.

“We’re work­ing with the re­sources we have,” Ms. Coll said Wed­nes­day. “We don’t have an in­fi­nite num­ber of ma­chines or an in­fi­nite bud­get.”

The board de­liv­ered a sec­ond ma­chine at 1 p.m., but the first jammed again. By 3 p.m., The Times wit­nessed one worker open­ing the ma­chine to sub­mit bal­lots by hand. At around 4 p.m. the board dropped off a third ma­chine.

Fi­nal D.C. vot­ing re­sults weren’t re­ported un­til Wed­nes­day morn­ing due to precinct No. 113 fail­ing to dig­i­tally trans­fer its re­sults to the board, as first re­ported by DCist.

“By the time we re­al­ized that precinct hadn’t modemed the re­sults, as op­posed to a late re­turn, it was too late to get into the church,” Ms. Coll told The Times.

This year, 219,101 D.C. res­i­dents, or about 44 per­cent of the city’s reg­is­tered vot­ers, cast bal­lots in the gen­eral elec­tion. That’s dou­ble the June pri­mary turnout, but below 2016’s 65 per­cent voter turnout.

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