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Voting in Northern Virginia "Smooth" Nearing Final Stretch

Registrars in Northern Virginia told me this afternoon that voting has gone extremely well thus far, with unprecedented turnout across the board, very few problems inside the polls, and just a few minor glitches here and there that are nothing out of the ordinary for a presidential election.

Linda Lindberg, the Arlington County registrar, said more than 60 percent of eligible voters had cast ballots by mid-afternoon before the after-work crush, and her expectations are to have about 80 percent of the 149,000 registered voters cast ballots today. Aside from "very heavy" morning turnout, a few minor problems with optical scanners jamming and a few electronic pollbooks taking some time to boot up, Lindberg said voting has gone well.

"I am very pleased it has turned out so smoothly," Lindberg said.

Fairfax County Registar Rokey Suleman said that after the "typical morning hiccups that occur with every election," things have gone very well in Northern Virginia's largest jurisdiction. Between 60 percent and 70 percent of the county's 680,000 registered voters had cast ballots by about 3 p.m.

Fairfax saw a couple of memory cards fail and a few machines would not accept the ballots, but those problems were easily resolved by switching voters to paper ballots. Some voters waited in line for as many as two hours, but many with the longest wait were in line prior to the polls opening this morning.

There were no problems to report in Alexandria, either, where officials expect more than 70,000 people to vote today. It was the same story with lines in Alexandria, with huge waits in the morning giving way to just a trickle in the afternoon.

"We're really happy about the way things are going," said Tom Parkins, Alexandria's registrar."We're very happy with teh way the lines have moved, and we've had little or no problems with the machines. And I think we're going to have a record turnout."

Two precincts in Alexandria -- the Southport apartment complex and Cameron Station -- had especially long lines because they are small facilities with a large number of voters.

Alvin Lee, 66, a retired engineer, said he went to the Southport precinct to vote at 10 a.m. and ended up standing in line for three and a half hours, because his name fell in the "H through P" category. Turns out that his third of the alphabet was slammed with voters while people with a name such as Smith sailed right by him.

"There's something wrong with the procedure," said Lee, who split his vote between Republicans and Democrats, choosing Sen. John McCain as well as Mark Warner. "I stood in line for three hours while they called people behind me. I don't think that's right."

Post reporter Michael Birnbaum reports that have gone well in Loudoun County:

At 4:15 p.m., a Loudoun elections official estimated that 60 to 70 percent of registered voters had turned out so far. The turnout in the 2004 presidential election was 77.5 percent.
"It's a slightly higher turnout than usual," said Dianna Price, secretary of the county electoral board. "But this isn't any different from what we expected."

Price said there were very few reported problems at polling places. She said that three precincts had problems setting up optical scanners this morning, but the glitches lasted only a few minutes and were easily fixed by technicians

"Things went much better this morning than we expected," she said.

By Josh White  |  November 4, 2008; 5:10 PM ET
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