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Votes

Long Lines Greet Voters at Polls

The polls in Great Falls saw heavy turnouts for the 2004 Presidential Election. The election officials welcomed the crowds.

"We have been very busy," said Phineas Nash, the Chief Election Officer at the Great Falls Library, "but not overwhelmed." Nash added that this is the greatest number of voters he saw in the last seven elections.

There was a 45-minute wait to cast a vote at the library at 11 a.m., and the lines extended around the circular driveway in front of the library. When the poll opened, however, the lines went out as far as Georgetown Pike, according to Jenks Middleton, an election officer at the site. "It has been a phenomenal turnout," he said.

There was a problem with one of the voting machines at the library, but it was noticed before the polls opened at 6 a.m., so nobody had voted on the machine. The election officers placed calls into the technical support to report the problem with the machine, but as of 11 a.m. that machine had not been fixed.

THE GREAT FALLS United Methodist Church saw a large turnout of voters. The parking lot in front of the church saw many cars enter and leave but remained full throughout the morning. The neighborhood streets were turned into temporary parking lots as well. According to Shani Warner, an election protection legal volunteer, the lines at 6 a.m. were winding around the church, and the wait was an hour long. A contributing factor to the long lines was the fact that two voting machines in the church had problems. Both problems were noticed before the poll was open, therefore nobody voted on those machines. A technician came and fixed the machines at 7:45 a.m.

Warner said that there was an incident involving a Democratic observer not being allowed into the polling place because of a lack of credentials. However, the credentials were quickly found and the problem resolved.

Don Milburn, the chief election officer at the church, said that the turnout was much more intense than what he saw in the previous elections. "People realized after the 2000 election that their vote does count," said Milburn, commenting on the high turnout.

No problems were reported at the polling place at Great Falls Elementary School. The voter turnout was heavy, but everything ran smoothly, according to George Caines, the chief election officer at the site. He attributed the large turnout in part because of a larger precinct, "there are a lot more registered voters," he said. Both the Democratic and the Republican Parties sent observers to the site.