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Knowing Where to Vote Is Half the Battle

We've heard about a few problems involving voter confusion, such as going to the wrong polling place or forgetting which polling place to go to. There also have been reports of fake robocalls instructing voters in the Charlottesville area to go to the wrong precincts, allegations that the Virginia State Police are currently looking into.

Post reporters today have also come across voters who have been told to go from precinct to precinct to find their correct voting location. Jonathan Mummolo reports this from Gainesville:

There were no lines around 3 p.m. at the polls inside the Heritage Hunt Golf and Country Club in Gainesville, but the precinct still faced some mishaps. About 50 or 60 voters at that point had shown up there mistakenly because of a recent precinct redistricting, the precinct's chief election officer Harry Beaver said.

He said when precincts are redistricted, voters receive an updated registration card in the mail, but some don't pay attention to the new information.
"They don't read their mail," Beaver said. "Some of the people have registration cards dated '03."

But voter Donna Osborne, 48, of the Haymarket area, said she never got anything in the mail. Osborne, who first tried to vote at Bull Run Middle School, came to Heritage around 3 p.m. only to be referred to a different precinct in Haymarket.

"They're sending me to yet a third" polling place, said Osborne, who planned to vote for McCain, and took a half day at work to do so. "I had not notification of any of this."
While Osborne left to press on, those like Dale Devaux, 34, a chef who lives in Haymarket, had to call it a day after learning his precinct had been moved. He had to get back to work.

"It's the system," Devaux said on his way out of Heritage. "They say every vote counts but then they make it difficult."

Still, Beaver said around 1,400 of the precinct's 2,800 registered voters had voted by around 2:30 p.m. One was Doug Hoehn, 65, who lives in the Heritage subdivision. He said he voted for Obama because he feared a continuation of Bush policies with McCain, though he said he thought Obama had relatively little experience for the job.

"I just felt it was time for a change," said Hoehn, who added that he wanted to see the U.S. leave Iraq and use the money being spent there at home. He also expressed concern about the economy, and said he recently took a cashier's job at a local supermarket after working for the Department of Defense for 33 years because a mutual fund he had counted on for retirement income had taken a big hit.

"I'm not particularly happy," he said about having to take the job. "I'm a little bitter."

Virginia election officials urge voters to check their precinct before heading out to vote. Judging by the turnout so far, many knew exactly where to go.

By Josh White  |  November 4, 2008; 4:20 PM ET
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