Lines Shorten Slightly by Early Afternoon

Posted November 4, 2008 at 11:18am

Long lines defined many polling stations Tuesday morning, as a record number of voters stood outside waiting to cast their votes in the Washington, D.C., area.

But lines that had once been more than an hour long had become a bit shorter by early afternoon — at least in the District, where an election spokesman said waits were hovering around an hour.

“It’s fair to say we’re on pace to possibly break a record,” said Dan Murphy, a spokesman for the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics. “Anecdotally, we’re seeing a lot of people, and there’s definitely long lines, but they’re moving well.”

Murphy said he hadn’t heard of any lines where voters were waiting more than two hours. And news outlets throughout the D.C. area reported problem-free voting, except for a few minor problems with some voting machines in Virginia.

At some locations, voters only had to stand in line for a matter of minutes. At Precinct 29 in Northwest D.C., near the intersection of Wisconsin and Idaho avenues, there was just a 10-minute wait at 9:45 a.m.

Murphy said some precincts are much smaller than others, accounting for the difference in wait times.

Polling stations in the Maryland suburbs also had lines of about an hour. Two precincts in Silver Spring reported an hour wait starting at 6:15 a.m. and 7:15 a.m., while several precincts in Bethesda had hour-long lines as late as 9 a.m.

But the battleground state of Virginia seemed to see some of the longest lines Tuesday, with some stretching for blocks as voters showed up before polls opened at 6 a.m.

William Willoughby, captain for precinct 36 in D.C., had one theory for what he called the “phenomenal” turn-out.

Obama, he said, “hit the ground from the very beginning with a grass-roots operation. From that, came this,” he said, pointing to the line of voters that stretched two blocks down Columbia Road.