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The news of this primary day: low turnout

In an otherwise tepid election day, the sight of the season belongs to Ward I council member Jim Graham, whom I spotted cruising along Georgia Avenue in a chauffer-driven, 17-foot long, 1986 white, factory hand-built, Excalibur convertible, equipped with chrome wire wheels and dual side spares.

Graham also had the news of the day. He shouted from the passenger seat, as I kept apace with the Excalibur in my car, that turnout was low across Ward I, where he is seeking reelection. Typical of Jim Graham, by the time I returned home, he had called to leave a message that he usually drives a Volkswagen (which I already knew) and that he was just having a little fun with the driver who owns the car.

At-large council member Kwame Brown, who is running for council chairman, echoed Graham’s observation about low turnout.

I caught up with him at 12th St. and U St. NW this afternoon. Brown had just returned from canvassing precincts in Wards 3 and 4. He cited several locations that had seen less than 150 voters each. Brown said he was told early voting may account for the low Election Day turnout, but he didn't seem to believe it. Neither do I.

Something has turned voters off.

The campaign headquarters of Council Chairman Vincent Gray in the 1000 block of 6th Street NW had more activity than what I saw at Mayor Adrian Fenty's headquarters near Georgia Ave. and Missouri Ave. at noon.

A Gray headquarters worker complained about malfunctioning voting machines in Wards 7 and 8, the north and southeast sections located east of the Anacostia River. She said a van carrying 11 senior citizens to the polls had to take them home when the machines failed to operate. She added, pointedly, that "the mayor-elect," then quickly said "Chairman Gray" was considering asking the Board of Elections and Ethics to keep the polls open after the 8:00 p.m. closing hour to allow voters who were turned away to return and vote.

A rather dispiriting election day, except for Jim Graham, who seemed to be having a grand old time.

By Colbert King  | September 14, 2010; 4:08 PM ET
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Comments

Low turnout favors Fenty...


Posted by: demtse | September 14, 2010 6:04 PM | Report abuse

@demtse: Pollsters say just the opposite. If there are turned off voters, in the face of polls in the toilet, it is likely Fenty voters. Too dispirited to go to the polls. Which explains why Fenty is not fighting the Gray campaigns call for extend voting hours. They both would benefit, I suppose.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | September 14, 2010 6:36 PM | Report abuse

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