After-Work Crowds Line Up to Cast Votes

With less than an hour left until the polls close in Washington, D.C., Mary Milling is elated to have finally voted.

“I’ve been anticipating this for a while,” said Milling, a 52-year-old Ward 1 resident. She wanted to have voted the first thing this morning but the lines were down the block and, at 8:30 a.m., she had to get to work on time.

Holding up a sign for drivers to “Honk three times for Obama,” Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner M.A. “Doll” Fitzgerald made her way to precinct 37 at 5 a.m.

“I open the polls, and I close the polls,” she said while thanking the honking drivers. Up until Election Day, Fitzgerald said that she helped about 600 seniors with disabilities to vote absentee.

By 6 p.m., she said that more than 1,400 people already voted at that polling station.

“It’s something that’s a long time coming,” Milling said about the historic aspect of the election. “I pray that everybody who had the opportunity to vote did so.”

Dunbar Senior High SchoolWashington At Dunbar Senior High School in northwest Washington, voters were enthusiastic. The line that stretched out the door in the early afternoon was moved into the school’s gymnasium because of rain. But that wouldn’t suffice. An hour later and the line stretched out of the gym.

There is a mix of different voters from elderly veteran voters who have voted in many elections to 18 year olds and other first time voters who have been brought out by the particular impact of this election.

Michael Muhammed, originally from East Africa, was voting in his first presidential election. He cast his ballot for Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.

” I am excited,” he said. “Obama is very sincere. I trust him.”

There were varying opinions as to the importance of the election.

John Smith, 45, said that he was voting for Barack Obama but he didn’t feel that the outcome of the election would really affect him.

“The question is whether he will improve my life,” he said. “I doubt it. Whether he will increase the situations for black America, such as having better jobs, he won’t do that.”

Other voters were optimistic.

Jacqueline Simmons was working as a volunteer ballot person for the Board of Elections, and she was extremely excited about this Election Day.

“I am about to burst,” she said. ” I am so excited! I cannot be tired today. Everyone’s excited. A little restless, some are a little impatient, but for the most part, everyone is cooperative today.” Reported by Melissa S Montgomery; Written by Jessica Morris

Lines wrapped around buildings like Goodwill Baptist Church on Kalorama Road in Northwest D.C. and even blocks. The average waiting time at Banneker Community Recreation Center on Georgia Avenue is 50 minutes.

At Gage-Eckington Elementary School, the voting process takes 10 to 15 minutes, and there are problems with assistance for people with disabilities.– Reporters Jasmine Bramlett, Brittney Oliver and Jada Smith

St. Timothy Episcopal Church, Precinct 110. Alabama Ave, Southeast Washington

Long, winding lines of about 300 people shorted to about 60 as early voters headed to work. Throngs of business people and parents with children in tow have been replaced by the elderly. The majority of people surrounding St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Southeast D.C. are not voters, but young campaigners endorsing candidates for local elections.

Currently, some voters are waiting in line for as little as thirty minutes, as opposed to early morning citizens who waited in poll lines for up to three hours to cast their vote. Lots of people voted early this morning before going to work Louis Joseph Washington, an elderly voter reported waiting in line about an hour and a half.

“I went through the process pretty easily and pretty quickly,” Washington said. “Now that I’ve voted, I feel like I’m a part of history. I just want my next president to do what he says he’s going to do.”

Polls in southeast D.C. are catering to disabled and senior citizens this morning at the polls with a curb-side polling service. Elderly and disabled voters are able to drive up to their location and poll workers bring them their ballot. After completing the ballot, poll workers take them inside and submit them without the individual ever having to leave their vehicle. Laura Richardson, a middle aged campaigner, had yet to vote. Instead, she voiced her support for Carol Schuertz for District of Colombia Council Member at Large. “I want my next president to exercise sound judgment and courage, and to shake things up in a big way,” Richardson said. “I don’t know how I’d feel if he didn’t win.”

By mid-day, lines had completely diminished. Voters walks right into the building and immediately cast their ballots.

“I didn’t really have any problems with voting this morning,” said Samuel Lench, an unemployed man from southeast Washington. “I had to vote under a special ballot, because they lost my registration.” Lench said lack of jobs is a major issue for people in his community.

“I want my president to make sure that every black person, at least in D.C. is gainfully employed,” he said.

Daryl Brooks, also unemployed, said he was voting for Obama.

“The economy is all messed up,” he said. “I want my next president to create more wealth for the poor, the middle class, and for me.

“Also, there are over 10 million illegal immigrants here. They got to change this policy. I’m hurting and it’s rough. Barack is going to change things.”

— Reported by Tiwana Beverly; Written by Ryan Foster

Georgian Forest Elementary School Silver Spring, Md.

Twenty minutes before the polls opened at 7 a.m. the parking lot was full at the Georgian Forest Elementary School in Silver Spring, Md. Inside, about 200 people formed a twisting line on both sides of the hall that stretched from the gym down to the library.

The line moved quickly once voters were given access to the 12 touch- screen voting machines.

“Hey, what time did you get here,” a woman said to friend who emerged from the gym at 7:29 a.m.

“I came straight from the gym,” said the friend.

“What time was that?”

“Six-forty. See you later,” said the friend as she turned toward the exit.Others in the line remarked that they never had seen a line so long so early at the school.

“I came with my granddaughter. It’s her first time voting,” a big guy with a big voice told a retired acquaintance in line across the hall from him. “It’s a big day,” he said.

The people in line reflected the diversity of eastern Montgomery County. There were Latinos, young African American couples with children in tow, Asian Americans and long-timers whose residency predated the diversity. Some of them stopped to look for themselves in the pictures of the graduating classes from the school.

Metropolitan A.M.E ChurchWashington D.C.

At Metropolitan A.M.E Church, voters were mostly Democrats ranging in age from 24 to 58, and seemingly everybody was voting for Barack Obama. Voters said they were surprised to see so many people out on Election Day. Leeland Ellis, a 57 year old Caucasian male, has been voting since college. He still remembers the first time he voted in 1972 during the contest between Republican Richard Nixon and George McGovern election.

“In previous elections I voted for Clinton and people that you had to hold your nose to vote for,” Ellis said.

Ellis said he felt that Obama brought much needed enthusiasm back to the polls and said that this was “the happiest election” he had ever participated in. He said he hoped that Obama will bring the country to economic stability once again.

Samuel David, 58, an African American, said he felt that Obama brought many voters out because of his promise for change.

“I want the next president to address the housing crisis and the country budget. I feel that Obama believes in change too,” David said.

Tuesday was David’s first time voting in years. Reported by Jessica Batiste; Written by Terra Johnson

Goodwill Baptist ChurchWashington, D.C.

They waited in long lines that wrapped around the church, wide swaths of citizens that snaked beyond the church parking lot. They brought their friends and shared opinions about their voting choices, with the occasional vehicle momentarily interrupting their chatter.

Many voters also brought along books, newspapers and iPods to keep them occupied as they waited. As was predicted for today’s historic election, voters at Goodwill Baptist Church in Northwest Washington, like elsewhere throughout the city, experienced waits of at least an hour, sometimes much more – even though many had shown up before the polls opened at 7 a.m.

No matter, they said, because they excitedly believed their wait was to make history.

Robin Mckinney-Kuykenall, a FedEx service agent from Houston, was enthusiastic about voting for Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential nominee and an African American.

“My first time voting was when I was 18, and I am very excited about the possibility of Barack Obama being the next president,” the black woman said. “This is history in the making. It’s even more exciting for my mother, who is at home crying as we speak. She is under hospice care and is ever more excited about this. I came to D.C. to visit and be with her for this historic moment. What’s so amazing about this is that she lived through the period when she wasn’t able to vote. So this is a very important time for her.”

Although happy about the day, Mckinney-Kuykenall said she was troubled knowing that her wait was an exercise in futility. Last-minute changes in her return to Texas prevented her from getting a state absentee ballot, she said. Nonetheless, she wouldn’t be denied, even after being turned down by District elections officials.

“I voted, but I know that my vote won’t count,” she said of her challenged ballot.

Other voters said they were equally enthused about the election and, when asked, many said they also voted for Obama.

Jenny Friedl, a 38-year-old teacher, walked out of the polling place with her Obama pin tucked under her sweater.

“I’m not afraid to say that I voted for Obama. If he is elected for president, I hope that he plans to address issues concerning the war as well as issues concerning social services,” she said.

Soon after her exit, another woman walked out of the polls, saying, “Take that, George Bush!”

Melinda Merrill a 29-year-old pharmaceutical company worker, walked out of the polling place smiling.

“I voted for McCain because the economy has several issues that need to be resolved,” she said. “If he is elected president, I would like him to address the deteriorating economy.”

Although several people were not ashamed to voice their choice, others were a bit more cautious. Dave Cligerman, a 35-year-old contractor, said he did not want to disclose his candidate, nor did he want to divulge his political views.

But he was in the minority. As the hours passed, the voting lines began to shorten and more people easily maneuvered through the voting process. As one woman left, she let out a sigh saying, “Fast and easy. I love it.”

Reported by Jasmine Bramlett

Hendley Elementary Ward 8Washington

Voters have been waiting patiently at Hendley Elementary Washington DC’s Ward 8 in lines that earlier wrapped around the block. At 8 a.m., voters waited for an hour and 40 minutes to vote. But by noon, the wait was 30 minutes.

The voters this morning at Hendley Elementary were mostly Barack Obama supporters. It did rain momentarily at the site. Still, voters waited without complaint many saying that this election was too important to miss for anything.

The wait was made more pleasant for voters by groups of kids who went through the line and handed out snacks to voters as they waited.

For handicapped voters, the process was made much easier by having a service where poll workers would come to the voter’s car so that they did not have to wait in the long line. Reported by Jason Clark;Written by Jessica Morris