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Long Lines as Droves of Centreville Voters Head to Polls

Centreville precincts hosted large turnouts of voters Tuesday morning.

Early Tuesday morning at the Centreville High School cafeteria, where Newgate South precinct voters cast their ballots, the lines stretched out the  doors, down a long hall and outside to the parking lot. 

By 7:30 a.m., the line had thinned up just a bit—but it still stretched outdoors.

The scene was repeated all over the Centreville area Tuesday morning, as voters at some precincts reported wait times of up to two hours. Though no one ultimately knows who local voters will choose as their next president, one thing was clear: these voters are not ambivalent and they will wait.

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** Late Tuesday night, Centreville Patch will have precinct-by-precinct results on all issues and a map of precinct-level presidential election results.

Not into staying up that late? Sign up for the Centreville Patch email newsletter and catch up with Centreville's news before work Wednesday! ** 

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Brian Treadwell, the chief election officer at Newgate South, has volunteered at elections since 1988. The only other time he had seen crowds like Tuesday's was during the 2008 elections.

Between assisting voters and making sure everything ran smoothly, he said that perhaps one of the reasons things took so long was because of the lengthy questions at the bottom of the ballots.

"We're trying to push people through here as quickly as possible, but there are some complicated bond and constitutional amendments on the ballot," he said. "These are never easy issues for the voters."

But the crowds at Newgate South, where just under 400 voters had come through as of 7:30 a.m., were nothing compared to those at Powell Elementary.

At 10 a.m.—when the early-morning rush usually begins to die down—the crowds still stretched out of the room designated for voting, down the hall, into a long nearby hallway, down all the way and around the corner, then wound around the perimeter of the second hallway.

Voters had begun to stop by the school to inquire about polling hours as early as 4:50 a.m., when chief election officer Karen O'Kolosvary arrived at the school.

"It's been very hectic," she said.

There's been a definite upswing in the number of voters at the Powell precinct. Even in 2008, when she worked as an election officer at Powell, she didn't see the kind of crowds that swarmed the precinct Tuesday.

"We didn't have humongous lines," O'Kolosvary said. "We didn't have lines all day. This has been four hours and people are still lined up all the way down the hall. So people are really coming out."

By 10 a.m. 821 people had voted at the precinct.

That experience matched up with what Larry Danewitz, the chief election officer at Chantilly, saw Tuesday morning.

"2008 was big, but I don't think it was as big as this," he said.

At Bull Run, a smaller precinct, lines were not quite so long, but turnout was still quite strong. Approximately 300 people had cast their paper ballots, and around 700 cast electronic votes by around 11 a.m., said Jim Marotta, the chief election officer.

The first hour was the busiest, Marotta said, but he expected many more voters to come in over their lunch hours and after work.

Michele November 06, 2012 at 06:54 PM
I waited over an hour at London Towne starting at 11:30ish am, but the other district that votes there had no line at all... Election officials were stressing that for evening voters, as long as you are IN the school by 7pm, you will vote, no matter how long the line is!
Michele November 06, 2012 at 07:24 PM
ALSO - IF you have a disability, small children that cannot be left at home, etc, let the election official know and they will get you to the front of the line so that you can vote.
Mary Stachyra Lopez November 06, 2012 at 07:32 PM
Good tip, thanks Michele!
Thomas November 06, 2012 at 07:36 PM
I spoke with an Election Official this morning at the London Towne Elementary School and she told me that they split the London Town district into two, one with 700+ people and the other with... I want to say around 4,000. She didn't know why. I read here that it was about maintaining school sizes in Centreville elementary schools. And I too heard an Election Official say that you must be IN the building by 7:00pm to vote. I think this is wrong and if the line is outside of the building I don't see how voters in line can be denied. I hope someone looks into this more thoroughly.
Mary Stachyra Lopez November 06, 2012 at 07:45 PM
That's correct! An election official at one of the precincts told me that what they would do if necessary at that point is direct voters inside, into a winding line of some sort. So no one will be deprived of their right to vote if they arrive in time and are still in line, but the doors will definitely close at 7.
Dawn B November 06, 2012 at 08:01 PM
Long lines at Centreville Elementary and only 4 voting machines! They have paper ballots, but you would think there would be more than 4 machines for that large of a precinct!
Michele November 06, 2012 at 09:13 PM
At LTES, the lines are run through the halls of the school, so I really don't imagine anyone being in line but outside....
Michele November 06, 2012 at 09:16 PM
My husband just got to London Towne ES - he said his expected wait to vote is 1 1/2 -2 hours.
Sandra November 06, 2012 at 09:48 PM
I went to Centreville HS and they only had 2 (yes, TWO) electronic machines for a presidential election! I commented that they should have more than 2 machines for an entire precinct, and the election official I spoke to said it was a numbers thing - they only have to have one machine per every so many people. However, I plan to complain about it, and I hope others will too. While I can understand 2 machines for a small local election, a presidential election deserves more. Even though the line to sign in was very short, the line after to wait for the electronic machines took quite a while. My husband was there in the morning and he said it took forever, so he had to switch to a paper ballot in order to get out in time for work. I hate paper ballots, and I think they need more electronic machines. I remember there being 4 or 5 in the past.
Michele November 06, 2012 at 10:02 PM
I have not checked it, but on the radio earlier, they said that in MD, they are required to have 1 machine for every 200 registered voters, but in VA the ratio is one to 750 voters....
Mary Stachyra Lopez November 06, 2012 at 10:05 PM
Folks, small note off topic...you may have noticed that your comments are requiring editorial approval before publication. It's a software glitch. I am trying to get that fixed ASAP so that you don't have to wait.
Mary Stachyra Lopez November 06, 2012 at 11:00 PM
And it's fixed!
Sandra November 07, 2012 at 02:02 AM
That's what I heard too. So what genius decided that one machine per 750 voters was enough??? It's probably some bean counter who figured that if you averaged everything out over the day, that would be fine. In reality, when working folks vote, it's either early morning or evening, which means the paltry few machines they have are NOT enough.
deanna mcrae king November 07, 2012 at 12:55 PM
I went a lunchtime to CUB RUN and waited only 10 mins! Wonderful to work in the neighborhood where I live!

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