Early voting begins
About 75 voters arrived at a downtown office building early this morning to cast the city's first-ever early ballots.
Polls opened at One Judiciary Square, home of the city election board offices at 8:30 a.m. and balloting continues until 7 p.m. Starting Saturday, voters also will be able to cast early ballots at four polling places scattered through the city.
Rokey Suleman, the board's director, cast the first vote, a paper ballot.
Right behind him was Joseph Bishop, 75. The Ward 4 resident said he didn't intend to be one of the first votes, but showed up at 6:30 to volunteer for Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's (D) re-election campaign.
"If I'm going to vote, I may as well get it out of the way," he said. He called early voting a "good example of the city being innovative."
Brookland resident Roxana Olivas, 37, was motivated to vote early on Latina issues. Like Bishop, she hoped to do some campaigning later, for mayoral candidate Vincent C. Gray. "Casting my vote now sort of gets it over with," she said.
"I think it's great," Olivas said. "It's civic participation."
Outside the polls, campaigns stumped hard for votes, some with megaphones. A half-hour after polls opened about 70 people had voted.
Ron Moten, a Fenty campaign organizer, wondered whether the board is equipped to handle the crowds. Campaigns are expected to send buses of supporters throughout the day.
"It could be a couple of thousand," Moten said, " if both [Fenty and Gray] do half of what they're trying to do."