Early voting began Saturday in Maryland, and, in some areas, the lines at polling places were very long. In D.C., early voting had already begun, but, on Saturday, early voting became available at "satellite" locations around the city. There, too, lines were quite long.
At the Turkey Thicket Recreation center in Washington, D.C., the lines for early voting were long, and they stayed long. Carlo Dyson told us he waited for four hours to vote.
Inside the recreation center, we counted only six voting machines in operation. A source at the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics told us that turnout was much greater than expected at satellite early voting locations, and, since the machines are programmed by precinct blocs, it took hours to get a few more voting machines delivered.
Some DC voters, like Dorothy Pritchett who uses a cane, gave up for the day and went home. "I could see [the line] was very, very long. You know, wrapped around the building," said Ms. Pritchett, "and I don't think that I can stand for two or three hours."
The long lines also temporarily dissuaded DC voter Amy Wiedemann who told us: "I live about a block away, so it's easy enough to return when the polls open one morning, so.... But, it's great to see the turnout. It's incredible. Even the bleachers are full inside that auditorium."
Saturday was the first day of early voting in Maryland, and, at the Curry Sports and Learning Center near Fed Ex Field, the lines were even longer than they were in D.C. Members of the Norris family waited four hours to vote. Why? "Because this is a very important election," responded Sylvia Norris, "and if I didn't stand in line, today, it's gonna... it would have gotten worse, getting close to election time, so...."
Mrs. Norris' daughter Krystal chimed in with a further answer: "It's not going to get better. Election Day, I imagine, is going to be a longer wait."
Antonio Mapp waited for four and a half hours to vote. Mapp is black, and, when asked why he decided to wait in line so long, he shook his head and answered gravely, "We fought hard to get a vote, and I wouldn't want to waste it."
Inside, there were 20 voting machines at this Prince George's County early voting site. But, with so many ballot questions before the electorate, voters seemed to be taking a little longer than usual to make their selections.
Kurt Walter, a member of the Prince George's County Board of Elections agreed with that observation: "I think so. It's a lot of questions. And, [more time in the booth is] to be expected. There's a lot on this ballot."
Election officials in Maryland are urging voters to study their sample ballots ahead of time, and to consider marking them up, and bringing them when they vote.
Early voting in Maryland is now scheduled to occur every day (including Sunday) until (and including) Thursday, November 1st. Sunday early voting hours are noon to 6:00 p.m. Weekday early voting hours are 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
In D.C., early voting satellite locations are not open on Sunday, but will reopen Monday, Oct. 29th, and remain open though (and including) Saturday, Nov. 3rd. The hours at those satellite locations will be from 8:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
In Virginia, although there is absentee voting, there is no general early voting.
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