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Votes

Lines Stretch on Election Day

Voters head to polls despite ballot machine failures.

Lines stretched out the door and around the block at the SOC Center in Crystal City and at Verizon's local headquarters on Courthouse Plaza as Arlingtonians voted in the presidential election.

Election Officer Steve Kusters, supervising the Courthouse poll, said voter turn out was especially high early in the morning, but some mechanical problems with the county's electronic voting machines kept many voters waiting.

"Machine number four only went down for three minutes," he said. "But, number three went down for something like 10 or 15 minutes. That ate up some time."

BY 9:30 A.M., 540 voters had cast ballots at the Courthouse poll, according to Kusters. Many voters are using electronic ballot machines, which debuted in Arlington in August with several public demonstration by the county's election officials.

In Ballston, voters flocked to the Central Public Library, where lines spilled out of the building, across the parking lot and down the street.

"And it doesn't seem to show any sign of slowing down," said Election Officer Bernie Chapnick. "It has been out the door and down the street since six this morning."

Chapnick reported no mechanical failures with voting machines in Ballston but polls in other areas of the county did report problems, according to Ann Smith, an assistant registrar with the county's Department of Voter Registration.

"We've had a large team circulating to address the issue," she said. "Touch screens appear to be slightly off — there have been some bad connections with the machines, but none of it is unusual. It might cause delays in a few places, but the problem we're seeing with some of the machines are things that we've dealt with before."

As of 10 a.m., more than 700 people had voted there.

On the ballot in Arlington's school board race, incumbents Libby Garvey and Frank Wilson are facing challengers Shaun Wheldon and Frank Wilson.

The Arlington Connection went to press Tuesday morning, before election results were in.

AT DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSMAN Jim Moran's Clarendon headquarters on Wilson Boulevard, volunteers were preparing to the hit the streets for the final push to gain votes before the polls close at 8 p.m.

Moran faced Republican challenger Lisa Marie Cheney and independent candidate Jim Hursyz. Moran's campaign manager Mike Brown said the Democratic voter drive in Virginia has spurred hundreds of new voters to the polls.

"What we're seeing is a record turn-out," Brown said. "I've never seen participation like this in an election. People, Democrats, are mobilized in numbers that are I've never seen before. And as for the polls, what we're seeing is that our best performing precincts, where we have the most support, also appear to be the busiest. It looks like we have a very good chance of winning locally and, for the Kerry campaign, winning the state of Virginia."

In 2000, according to Zogby, Bush won Virginia by a margin of 8.36 percent of the vote. In Arlington, Al Gore beat Bush with nearly twice the number of votes, 28,555 for Bush and 50,260 for Gore. More than 12,000 new voters registered in Arlington for this year’s election.