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Polls Close on a Low Turnout Day

The polls closed at 8 p.m., with candidates and election workers across the city bemoaning what looked like an especially low turnout.

In Ward 7, where Council member Yvette Alexander is hoping to win the Democratic nomination for a four-year term, precinct workers said they were dismayed by the lack of voters today in the closed primary.

Alexander was one of six 13 council members pursuing their party's nomination today for another term. In addition to Alexander, Muriel Bowser, of Ward 4, was facing three opponents in the Democratic race. She and Alexander had been chosen by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray, respectively, to fill their vacated seats more than a year ago after Fenty and Gray took higher office.

Two at-large seats are also being contested, as well as seats in Ward 2 and 8. Both Jack Evans and Marion Barry were fending off opponents for a spot on the fall general election ballot.

But it was Carol Schwartz, the Republican at-large council member, who spent the day trying to hold off Patrick Mara, an eager newcomer who had mounted a fierce campaign in the GOP primary. And it was unclear as the polls closed whether the low turnout would be good or bad for Schwartz.

By 7:20 p.m. at Mary H. Plummer Elementary School in Ward 7, about 360 people had voted in the precinct (103), where there are more than 4,000 registered voters.
Constance Woody, president of the Benning Ridge Civic Association and the precinct captain, said normally about 500 people cast ballots during September primaries.

"Even though September is a light turnout, it is really light this time. We are just too complacent. These kids need to know about all the struggles that we had to have this privilege today."

Gray, who was outside the precinct talking with voters and activists, said he'd been across the city. He said he was expecting incumbents to be reelected.

Kemry Hughes, 46, a D.C. Democratic State Committee candidate running on the ObamaforUnity Beats McCain Ticket, said, "We need to show the world that we are serious about voting rights in the District. It is important that we show strong numbers. It's sad because while DC has one of the highest numbers of registered voters in the country, the turnout is always low. And we can't afford not to have a good turnout."

Hamil R. Harris

By Marcia Davis  |  September 9, 2008; 7:50 PM ET
Categories:  2008 District Election  
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