Polling location change leaves some Ward 1 voters scrambling in D.C.

WASHINGTON: The hours-long lines, the fear of technical difficulties and the noisy atmosphere can make Election Day extremely frantic. Many citizens, especially in the Washington area, cast their votes in a polling place near their homes. But as expected, there were difficulties that deterred voters from voting at their usual polls.

Some D.C. voters experienced problems after arriving to Mount Rona Missionary Baptist Church to vote, only to find out the polling place had been moved to Raymond Recreational Center. The Mount Rona Church, on 13th Street NW, had been sold in an auction, forcing citizens to vote elsewhere. Many voters took their irritation to Twitter, saying they weren’t notified upon arrival.

Photo by Tyra Trent. Voters cast their ballots in Washington D.C. 

However, the relocation to a polling place a few blocks away might not have been as bad as they expected. The Raymond Recreational Center on 10th Street was not as hectic as other polling stations in D.C. The atmosphere could be described as calm, with voters getting in and out in a timely manner.

 “The poll’s quiet hours are around 2 to 5 p.m., while everyone is mostly at work,” election official Tony Bouillion explained. “7 to 9 a.m. were probably our busiest hours and I’m sure it will pick up again after 5 o’clock.”

   Even during busy hours, the Raymond Recreational Center does not compare in the level of chaos as other places in D.C. It was voter Bernadette Harvey’s first time voting at this location. “I was curious about the different voting patterns in the city. I was impressed by the diverse stream of traffic to this poll.”

  Voters said there were no problems. “Voting at this location was great! Everyone was super helpful,” second-time voter Zuri Hunter said. “I’ve heard horror stories so I’m grateful to have had a good experience.”

Lower Enthusiasm for Candidates, Early Voting Meant No Lines at Some Polls

By: Jarrett Powell and Nia Lane

            D.C. native Adgar Deleon, voting at the Park View Recreation Center on Otis Place NW, recalled that there were lines a couple of blocks long to vote in the last election, but this year was different. “My enthusiasm is kind of less from the last time I voted, I was more amped up and I had a candidate that I was really behind and strong about. This time I feel like I am voting just to vote.”

            “I think people’s enthusiasm for this election just isn’t the same,” he said, “and I think that has a lot to do with why there aren’t any long lines this year, unfortunately.

            Other voters agreed with that assessment. This is some millennials’ first time voting and many, like Nicole Bratcher-Bouyer, do not seem very sure about this election. “I’m not confident at all, I’m just voting because I would feel bad if I didn’t,” Bratcher-Bouyer said. One thing that she is sure about is about who she doesn’t want to become the next commander-in-chief. “I’m voting for Hillary Clinton so Donald Trump doesn’t win.”

            Asked what makes her so uneasy about the candidate she supports, Bratcher-Bouyer said: “It’s all about perspective, so I don’t necessarily think that [Hillary Clinton] will represent me well, as a black woman in America, but I do think she will represent white women and even some conservative men who may not agree with her better than she can represent me.”

            Bratcher-Bouyer, who was canvassing outside of the Park View Center for a local candidate, saw a very constant flow of voters showing up, but there was one thing that didn’t sit well with her. “A lot of people have been asking me what they need to vote, and that kind of bothered me because there is no reason why people aren’t educated on what they need the day of elections.”

            Letha Blout has been coming to Watha T.  Daniel Shaw Library to vote for years and she says it has never been a crowded location. “More people were at Kennedy playground rather than coming to polls,” said the 86-year-old Blout when asked about voter turnout. Blout says the voters at Watha T. Daniel Shaw Library are fairly normal, “They come in, take care of their business and leave.”

            Although there was heavy traffic at the Kennedy Recreation Center, “there has always been low turnout at [the library] location,” said Leroy Thorpe, Advisory Neighborhood Commission candidate. Early voting had quite the impact this year, Thorpe said. More people took initiative to vote early, rather than coming out to the polls on Election Day. Thorpe believed the crowd would pick up in the evening.