By Crystall Gabriel
Howard University News Service
WASHINGTON – Washington voters complained of inadequate staffing and long lines as they endured near-freezing temperatures to vote for the president and for other ballot initiatives.
From 15th Street Presbyterian Church to Watha T. Daniel-Shaw Neighborhood Library to Benjamin Banneker Recreation Center, voters stood in lines for as long as three hours to cast their ballots.
They voiced their dissatisfaction on Facebook and Twitter accounts of the District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics.
“In future elections, please plan to staff precincts and have sufficient voting booths on hand,” Dusty Riddle said via Facebook. “It was obvious from the debacle at 15th St. Presbyterian that much more planning was needed. Hundreds of voters were turned away, and the average wait time exceeds two hours, because there are only three voting booths.”
Residents used a combination of paper ballots and electronic voting machines to cast their votes at all Washington voting sites, but at times the system apparently faltered, and voters had to switch to a paper-only system.
That was the case at the Van Ness polling site.
“Just got told everyone in line should plan on using paper ballots!” Karen Szala posted at around 1 p.m. while standing in line.
Circe Torruellas said only one electronic machine was available at the Precinct 57 site servicing Ward 4 voters.
“It was packed, which was great because so many people came out to vote,” Torruellas said. “So I don’t know if they were ready for so many people to come out but there was [only] one machine.”
Torruellas said she spoke with family members and friends in the Maryland and Virginia areas who said that their polling sites had anywhere from five to 10 machines.
Karen Raper, a spokesperson with the Board of Elections, said despite complaints, there were no voting machines down and the precincts were adequately staffed with voting machines.
“The number of machines available at each precinct is based off of the number of machines that were available at previous elections with the number of voters that turned out at previous elections,” Raper said.
For more information on the voting process, visit http://www.dcboee.org or call 202-727-2525.
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