As it prepares for potentially massive voter turnout, the D.C. Board of Elections is facing criticism from residents east of the river.
The District will open five voting supercenters, with the Capital One Arena and Nationals Park among them, but none of the supercenters are located in Wards 7 or 8.
Those residents would have to cross the river to reach a supercenter, despite the D.C. Board of Elections making it a priority to identify a location this summer.
"The thought was to try to be able to find places that we could process large numbers of people at one time," said Michael Bennett, chair of the D.C. Board of Elections. "In fact, the very first place we thought of was east of the river in Ward 7 and 8."
Bennett said the board identified the Entertainment and Sports Arena, home of the Washington Mystics, as a potential site.
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"I personally checked with EventsDC for the facility and it was not available," he said.
EventsDC changed course Wednesday, President and CEO Greg O’Dell said in a statement: “We have not heard from the Board of Elections in recent weeks; however, we will make sure that the dates are available for the Arena to serve as a voting center if necessary and hope to shift the potential programing to future dates."
The elections board, however, never determined whether the arena could accommodate a voting supercenter because they were told it was unavailable.
Officials say making it a supercenter would require a reallocation of equipment from other polling locations, which could result in the closing of a lesser used polling place.
Nearly 20,000 people in Wards 7 and 8 voted in the June primary, which was plagued by long lines. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has repeatedly said she wants every voting precinct open.
The Board of Elections has put more resources into Wards 7 and 8 to make up for the lack of a supercenter.
"We actually skewed the number of vote centers to Ward 7 and 8 and we also have more dropboxes in Ward 7 and 8," Bennett said.
Regardless of how you choose to cast your ballot, don't wait, he said.
"We don't have election day; we have election week. So, we are pushing for people to consider this election week and vote as early as possible," Bennett said.
If you choose to do it, in-person early voting in D.C. starts Oct. 27.
Voting Sites in D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia
Early voting centers are highlighted in blue or purple. Not all voting sites in Virginia are listed in the map. Click here to find more polling centers in Virginia.
Source: Maryland State Board of Elections
Credit: Anisa Holmes/NBC Washington