Why So Few Early Voting Centers?

D.C. BOEE wanted 13 sites

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A map showing 13 sites for voting centers considered by D.C. BOEE.

    More than 1,000 people showed up to the Chevy Chase Community Center in Ward 3 on Labor Day, the Washington Post reports. The holiday turnout there -- the highest at any of the early voting polls on both Saturday and Monday -- is bound to boost the electoral prospects of incumbent Mayor Adrian Fenty, who is favored in Ward 3.

    D.C. Council Chair and mayoral challenger Vincent Gray has reason to complain: There is no early voting center in Ward 7, his home base.

    But there could have been one.

    There are only four early voting satellite centers in the District -- the minimum permitted by the Omnibus Election Reform Act -- plus the central voting station at One Judiciary Square. But the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics had hoped for at least 13 voting stations.

    "I would love to say we have a whole lot of choice," said Alysoun McLaughlin, public affairs manager for D.C. BOEE. "It's availability. It's difficult to find spaces that can accommodate us and are available for a week at a time."

    The map above indicates sites D.C. BOEE considered for early voting satellite stations.

    Eastern Market and the Convention Center were both considered. But the D.C. BOEE said both venues asked for $4,000 per day to host early voting. Hotel ballrooms were another idea that was deemed too expensive, an official said.

    Other sites, like the Frank D. Reeves Center and the Martin Luther King Library, were located too close to One Judiciary Square. Neither the University of the District of Columbia nor RFK Stadium/Armory were available for the full early-voting period.

    The Second District Police Station and the Sixth District Police Station were ruled out for insufficient public transportation and insufficient parking the official said.

    Changes initiated by the Omnibus Election Reform Act of 2009 included rules governing early voting. The rules established a minimum of four polling stations and mandated that they be geographically diverse.

    With nearly 8,000 votes cast so far and one week to go before primary day, the candidates' ground game will prove critical in mobilizing voters. But the locations of the polls themselves will no doubt play a role.