Live blog: D.C. Primary Day 2010 afternoon -- More gift-card complaints
Welcome to our continuing coverage of Election Day, as members of D.C. political parties head to the polls to pick nominees for mayor, D.C. Council chairman, U.S. Delegate and an array of other District and ward-level positions (see the Voters Guide for information about all the races and candidates). It's been a nice day out. Keep an eye on the D.C. Politics page throughout the day for the latest updates and scenes from the campaigns and polling places.
Latest news: New gift-card complaints submitted to Board of Elections | Gray campaign to request longer polling hours at precincts that had problems this morning; Board of Elections responds; Fenty and Gray both have voted (videos); problems held up voting at Sherwood Rec Center.
Here's what you need to know to vote:
UPDATE 4:15 p.m. At Shepherd Elementary in Ward 4, as uniformed students spilled out of school for the afternoon, voters walked into the gymnasium and almost immediately were directed to empty booths.
Celeste Woolfork cast her first-ever electronic ballot in under four minutes. "I was surprised there was no wait at all," she said. Though mid-afternoon traffic is generally light on Election Day at Shepherd, Woolfork said this was like "light lite."
"Usually our neighborhood comes together here; but I only see four people, as opposed to the 40 I'd usually see. I'm going to have to go home and make some calls to make sure people are voting."
Moments later, Iris Parks emerged from the school. It took her longer to explain her votes (Fenty, Orange, "the white Michael Brown") than it had taken her to vote. "I can only go on what Adrian has done for the city," she said of her mayoral pick. "Crime levels are down. Better housing. Education has improved. I think he deserves another four years."
-- J. Freedom du Lac
Mobley -- whose husband was once a campaign chairman for Orange -- said she liked when Orange stressed the need for contracts with minority and locally-owned businesses during his time on council. Mobley, who owns a small-business teaching job skills, said small businesses are "the bread and butter" of the city's economy and could help low employment in wards 5, 7 and 8.
She said she didn't like the cronyism that came out of the Fenty administration, "among a litany of other things."
Leslie Hunter, 57, said she agreed with Mobley on Orange, but voted for Fenty.
"I am swayed by his education reform advances. ... Obviously it has been bumpy, with kinks and missteps, but overall I think it is important," said Hunter, a 30-year D.C. resident who added that the arguments about charisma were not compelling to her. "I'm more interested in substance and actual accomplishments. ... I don't care if I want to have a beer with him."
-- Christy Goodman
UPDATE 3:59 p.m.: At four Ward 7 polling places in the Deanwood, Bladensburg and Kenilworth sections of Northeast, poll workers said electronic voting machines were down at the start of the day and that many voters stayed away from them in favor of traditional paper ballots.
At a polling place at Merritt Middle School in Northeast, only 16 people out of roughly 300 had used electronic voting machines. "People don't get the technology. They want to see the paper trail," said Ruth Paige, a precinct captain.
At a polling place at Mount Horeb Baptist Church off of Bladensburg Road NE, a worker struggled to show a reporter how to insert the box-like transponder used to activate the machines and set up the ballots.
-- Derek Kravitz
"I'm a lone ranger," said Rashele Maclin, 33, of River Terrace, who voted for Fenty.
She supported the mayor because she has noticed improvements in crime, amenities such as a new library, and better schools. She said she had seen a "tremendous difference" at her alma mater Spingarn High School, which her son attends. She was impressed when one of his teachers called her about his shoelaces being untied in the hallway.
"Gray hasn't said what changes he will make because there aren't any," she said. "Schools are better. Crime is better."
(She is less contrarian when it comes to football. She was wearing a Redskins jersey.)
For every Rashel Maclin, there were many more Gray supporters. They included many who, like Maclin, credit Fenty for improving their quality of life, but also found his governing style off-putting.
Gray, by contrast, "was a good person to talk to," said Linda Chambers, 63, of River Terrace, who met Gray at a neighborhood cookout a couple of weeks ago. "I feel comfortable around him."
Chambers noted that she had not seen Fenty in her neighborhood since he ran in 2006.
Several voters criticized Fenty for schools chancellor Michelle Rhee's dismissal of hundreds of DCPS teachers, saying Rhee treated teachers too harshly.
"I didn't like the way they were let go," said Karen McPherson of Hillcrest.
Ramone Brandon arrived at St. Francis Xavier Church on Pennsylvania Avenue SE chanting "Fenty Got to Go!" He had a litany of grievances against Fenty, including giving contracts to friends and his refusal to meet with certain community groups during much of his tenure.
"The schools are revitalized -- I've noticed a big change -- but his arrogance is why I voted for Gray," said River Terrace resident Lania Coleman, 32. The single mother said River Terrace Elementary used to be so bad that she pulled her now 8- and 10-year-old children out and enrolled them at charter schools. She also cited what she called Fenty's "refusal to be transparent" and the contracts granted to friends. "There's some underhanded stuff going on."
-- Annys Shin
UPDATE 3:41 p.m.: Captain Gwendolyn O. Puryear of the 68th precinct at St. Francis Hall said she has worked with her poll workers through several elections. She reported no early morning glitches or issues.
"My people were trained early enough," she said. "I had a couple of people who thought they needed more training and went back.".
About 340 people had come through St. Francis Hall's doors as of 3 p.m., which Puryear said seemed about average considering the early voting districts.
-- Christy Goodman
On Saturday, supporters of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty exposed an scheme where Ward 8 residents were taken the polls and given $10 Giant cards after they voted. Cora Masters Barry, the estranged wife of Ward 8 Council member Marion Barry, admitted organizing the effort, which she said was not affiliated with any campaign and was aimed at increasing turnout in a historically low-voting area.
"We just note it and [have callers] give us all the information they can," board executive director Rokey W. Suleman II said. All information is passed to the U.S. Attorney's office for further investigation.
-- Mike DeBonis
UPDATE 2 p.m.: As we're monitoring social media for observations and tips on the local elections today -- encouraging you to participate in discussions, email us with tips and/or upload your photos -- we'll look for trends. One we saw at midday: turnout in D.C.
It's always an important question -- especially for primaries and in non-presidential election years. When it comes to D.C. today, our man Mike DeBonis had this to say on Twitter just after noon:
One reporter who seems to share that view is WTOP's Mark Seagraves:
Voter turnout in DC seems low. Ward 2 campaign observer says lowest morning turnout in years.
Searching Twitter for corroborrating evidence -- an admittedly unscientific practice -- turned up these tweets:
Walking along M St in Gtown; haven't seen a single "I Voted" sticker. #votedc
Had ballot 45 @ 8:15 at my Cap Hill polling station. Low turnout so far in a neighborhood Fenty needs to do well in. #votedc
However, there's some conflicting evidence out there, too. First, here's another DeBonis tweet:
#votedc reports: long lines to cast special ballots this a.m. at P89 (Hine JHS/W6) and P22 (Garnet-Patterson MS/W1/my home precinct)
And Chuck Thies said "voters arriving steadily" earlier today, later adding:
Turnout isnt light. It is typical for DC: 100K will vote. People have 2008 fresh in memories, are comparing apples to oranges. #votedc
We also asked DeBonis who would benefit from low turnout:
What do you think? Did you observe what looked to be low turnout, high turnout, or just-right turnout? Who will benefit, in your opinion? Leave you answers in the comments or go on over to the Election Day Monitor discussion group and talk about it there.
Here's a roundup of some funny and serious tweets that caught our eye this morning:
The gray people at 106 are telling their folks "gray, orange and mendelson". #dcvote
No problems when we voted this morning at Watkins Elementary in SE. #dcvote
At my polling place (128) this morning I was surprised how little diversity in my hood. #votedc
I voted for Sulaimon Brown. He said that in his administration, D.C. would see 70% more sunny, humid-free days. #votedc
OH on the bus: "[Fenty] never come to SE, period. What has he done for the city?" Um. #votedc
I have it on good authority that Fenty also has a Cowboys jersey with his name on it, and wore it on Sunday. Vote Gray! #dcvote
UPDATE 1:15 p.m.:Janice Copeland considers herself a educated voter. She reads blogs. She reads newspapers. She listens to the radio. So, she said, when it comes to the vote, she's not one to be "spun," as she said this morning with a no-nonsense look.
Standing on Alabama Avenue SE in front of Allen Chapel AME Church, her voice rose as she spoke: "I don't listen to none of this political back-and-forth, because that's just what it is. We need to be smarter as a people, see behind all this smoke and mirror stuff."
She said she referring to the attacks on Mayor Adrian M. Fenty by his chief opponent, Vincent C. Gray, as the smoke-and-mirror game she says she doesn't believe. So, she said she voted for the current mayor because she said she values the strides she believes have been made in the educational system.
"All these attacks on Fenty, they're see-through," she said. "No one can tell me this isn't a city that's better. We need to be smarter. Focus on the good. We'll be better off for it."
She went on, ticking off what she said were other positives: crime, pride in the city. And: "That boy has cleaned these streets. How can anyone say we're not a better city?"
-- Chris L. Jenkins
Poll workers said the turnout was unusually low for the generally politically active neighborhood. But the polling place is just a few blocks from the Chevy Chase community center, which was one of the five locations the District had set aside for two weeks of early voting, and turnout there had been the highest in the city.
Still, campaign officials from both the Fenty and Gray camps predicted a very low citywide turnout, perhaps under 100,000, which both sides attributed to the negative tone of the campaign.
-- Marc Fisher
UPDATE 1:02 p.m.:
It was just before high noon, and the campaign workers for Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and challenger Vincent C. Gray on the corner of Alabama Avenue SE and 25th Street SE were ready for a showdown.
"Gray all the way! Gray all the way!" shouted Moses Smith, a volunteer worker for the D.C. Council chairman. Dressed in all white with a summer hat on, he raised up his arms and pumped his fist as he was showered with honks from several cars passing by. "Yeah!"
From his left came an equally passionate voice. "Whoop there it is! Four more years! Whoop there it is! Four more years!" A man in a red track suit didn't break stride as he passed a half dozen Gray and Fenty supporters in front of Allen Chapel AME Church. "Whoop there it is! Four more years!" The man turned around and flashed a grin, still walking.
"Okay, that was good," Smith said. But not missing a beat, he stepped to the
curb: "Vince Gray all day! Vince Gray all day!"
"Oh, man, you blind," said a Fenty worker who wouldn't offer her name. The two smiled at each other and kept with their cheers.
-- Chris L. Jenkins
"Phil, I voted for your son, I think he's doing a great job," a man in a suit said, stopping to shake his hand. "I'm the daddy," Fenty replied, smiling.
A practicing Buddhist with a heart shaped stud stuck in his left ear, Phil Fenty, 70, said he retired earlier this year from Fleet Feet Sports, the Adams Morgan athletic shop he and Jan, the mayor's mother, own.
He described his mood as "great" and predicted that his son would win reelection, the foreboding polls notwithstanding. "Who did they call?" he asked, adding that, like his son, he does not believe in polls.
Phil Fenty said he stopped reading the papers six to eight months ago because of the "negativity, not specifically about him, but anybody." The most difficult criticism of his son for him to endure, he said, has been that he is arrogant.
"Where do they get that?," he asked. "I can't believe it. That crawls under my skin. To me, that someone has never seen him cut a ribbon with kids."
"They said he didn't go to enough funerals," he continued. "Are you kidding me? He went so much. And when he went to a funeral they criticized the suit he wore."
He said his son has managed the city "perfectly," highlighted by his enduring tremendous criticism even as he sought to reform the public schools.
"The city is on a tremendous roll," he said. "This was the laughingstock of the country. They're not kicking Washington anymore."
He said he has never offered his son political advice because "I don't tell my children what to do." But he recognizes that the public can be fickle.
"We wanted change in this city, and he delivered," he said."Then its not enough. The public wanted more. When you're a public servant working 24/7, I don't know where there's more to give. We put people on pedestals, and if they're not big enough we kick the pedestal out from under them."
Asked what his son would do if he's defeated, his father said that " 'lose' is not even a word we consider."
"If we wake up in the morning, we win," he said. "How can you lose? He's had a great four years."
-- Paul Schwartzman
She must use one laptop for the special ballots and no longer has the old registration books, slowing things down. There were issues breaking the seal on the paper ballot scanner, too, but they fixed that in time to open at 7 a.m., she said.
The touchscreen ballot booth wasn't up and running until 9:20 a.m. because of technical difficulties, she said.
"There are too many pieces of equipment and inadequate training of poll workers," she said. "Change is okay, but not too many at one time."
-- Christy Goodman
White was waiting in the 81st's precinct's special ballot line because he wasn't on the main registry.
He said he watched the news and had discussions about the race with his family. He also was "looking out" for his friends who didn't fare so well with the summer job program.
As the brothers left the Myrtilla Miner Elementary School, a Vince Gray volunteer thanked them for voting.
"We didn't vote," Amani Hart said angrily while holding his big brother's hand.
White was registered without a party affiliation and said he wasn't as disappointed as he thought he would be for not being able to cast his first vote.
"I stood in line for almost an hour and then they tell me I can't vote?" said Brenda Butler, 48, outside of the Myrtilla Miner school's gym. Butler discovered she was registered without a party affiliation. "Now I'm late for work," she said.
Over at the 82nd precinct, one 38-year-old voter who asked not to be named, said he called BOEE twice to make sure he could change his party affiliation and vote today. He said he was told he could. But after nearly two hours in the Sherwood Rec Center, he left without voting.
"I took my time out of the day. I did my due diligence before I came here.
I think it is ludicrous I can't vote because I'm not a Democrat," the man said. "I've been misguided on my voting rights."
-- Christy Goodman
Christopher Dean Hopkins
September 14, 2010; 3:51 PM ET
Categories: 2010 District Election , Ann E. Marimow , Jim Graham , Kwame Brown , Mayor Fenty , Mike DeBonis , Nikita Stewart , Tim Craig , Vincent C. Gray
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