Many Alexandria voters left the polls in a huff Tuesday over problems with the city’s eSlate voting machines. Those who voted for Democratic Senate candidate Jim Webb saw something unusual on the summary page — a confirmation that they had cast a ballot for “James H. ‘Jim.’” Cynthia Butler, an attorney with Lawyers for Webb, spent the day at the Lyles-Crouch precinct receiving complaints from voters who were confused by the defective machines.
“One woman pressed the ‘previous page’ button to see if she had voted properly and the machine cast her ballot instead of going to the previous page,” Butler said. “The bigger issue here is that these machines are completely unverifiable, and they can be hacked.”
Former Mayor Kerry Donley, who stopped by the Lyles-Crouch precinct just as polls were closing, agreed with Butler. He said that the eSlate voting machines that the city has been using since 2003 are inferior to the previous voting technology.
“Personally, I’d like to see us scrap the electronic machines,” Donley said. “I think that the optical scan machines made a lot more sense.”
As Goes City Hall
City Hall is one of the few precincts where Republicans have a fighting chance. But even then, not much. Incumbent Republican Sen. George Allen, for example, took only 42 percent of the vote at the City Hall precinct — a lower Republican turnout than the rest of Virginia but a higher percentage than the rest of Alexandria.
“I think this is the most Republican precinct in the city,” said Townsend Van Fleet, who was handing out Republican ballots on Cameron Street.
Van Fleet should know. He ran as a Republican in the city election last May, and the election results show that he received more votes than Ludwig Gaines, Rob Krupicka or Tim Lovain. Republicans Pat Troy and Craig Miller also received more votes than Gaines, Krupicka and Lovain at the City Hall precinct — an aberration from the results at most polling places in the city.
“If the rest of Alexandria voted like City Hall, I’d be on the council right now,” Van Fleet said.
No Dogs Allowed
Everybody knows that Alexandria is dog crazy. Yet dogs are not allowed into the polling places, so several precincts saw pooches waiting outside for the masters to cast ballots. Voter Sarah Becker walked to the Durant Center precinct with Parker Poodle, her trusted companion.
“On our walk, we thought about politics, Thomas Nast and various campaign symbols,” Becker said. “Once there, I tied him to a sign that read ‘No Dogs Allowed.’ Someone suggested a photographer was needed. I returned to find campaign workers and neighbors embracing him.”
What’s In a Name?
Voter Daniel Max arrived at the Mount Vernon Recreation Center precinct ready to cast a ballot and be on his way. But there was only one problem: his name. Max had to wait in the L to Z line for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, Max said, the A to K line was nonexistent.
“Half of the people waiting in line are asking ‘Why don’t you change the cutoff next year and base it on statistics instead of dividing the alphabet down the middle?’ A collective shrug of the shoulders,” Max said. “It’s a great day to be an American — named Alfred or Aloysius, but not Zeppo or Zeta.”
At Douglas MacArthur Elementary, the opposite prevailed. The A to M line wound out the door while a man whose name began with P and a woman whose name started with W were ushered inside to a shorter line.