United States

DC-Area Voters Brave Storms, Lines to Cast Their 2018 Midterm Ballots

Nationally, 38 million people voted ahead of Election Day

What to Know

  • The News4 I-Team found that most voter complaints in the D-C area were about long lines from equipment shortages or malfunctions.
  • In Prince George's County, several polling locations ran out of paper ballots, officials said.
  • More than 38 million Americans cast early or absentee ballots before election day, NBC News reported,

Voters across D.C., Maryland and Virginia withstood rainstorms and lines Tuesday to cast their votes in the 2018 midterm elections.

Some D.C. voters reported having to wait 90 minutes to cast their ballots. 

In drenching rain, lines stretched outside schools and civic buildings transformed into voter centers in neighborhoods including Dupont Circle and Van Ness. Photos showed Washingtonians huddled under umbrellas and clad in raincoats. 

The News4 I-Team investigated voter complaints across the D.C. area and found that most grievances were about long lines that stemmed from equipment shortages or malfunctions.

Former News4 reporter Tom Sherwood tweeted that lines in Eastern Market stretched around the block as election workers tried to process ballots with only one vote-counting machine for two precincts.

Later in the day, the polling place was outfitted with two more voting machines. Lines continued to stretch out the door of Eastern Market after 5 p.m.

First Read — DMV

A place for insight, analysis and exclusives on the people who shape politics in the District, Maryland and Virginia.

Biden Wins Big in Virginia Primary, Beating Sanders by 20 Points

Virginia Bans Conversion Therapy for Minors

In Prince George's County, several polling locations ran out of paper ballots, officials said.

Election officials delivered more ballots to Upper Marlboro Community Center after one Twitter user reported that voters waited for more than two hours. Some did decide to leave.

The Maryland Democratic Party gave the following statement about the issue:

“Due to unprecedented turnout in Prince George’s County, several polling locations have run low on ballots. All voters should be aware that the Prince George’s County Board of Elections is required, by law, to keep all affected polling locations open as long as required for all voters in line at 8:00 p.m. to cast their ballot. We urge anyone facing difficulties voting to contact the Maryland Democratic Party’s voter hotline at 1-888-678-VOTE."

Photos showed dozens of people sitting in chairs while waiting for ballots.

Some voters said they had to insert their ballot into the box manually and poll workers said the ballots would be counted later, News4 Investigative Reporter Jodie Fleischer found. Fleischer reported that since each precinct records everyone who checks in to vote, every ballot should be accurately counted at the end of the night.

Many voters didn't have to face the elements or lines on Tuesday; they already had voted. More than 38 million Americans cast early or absentee ballots before election day, NBC News reported, far surpassing the 21 million early votes cast in the 2014 midterms.

A Fairfax County election official said about 53 percent of voters had either cast an absentee ballot or had voted in person by 4 p.m. Tuesday, topping the total turnout percentages in the 2014 and 2010 midterms. In Loudoun County, midterm turnout records were shattered by mid-afternoon.

In Virginia's 10th district — which includes Loudoun, Clarke and Frederick counties, Manassas and parts of Fairfax County — a heated race between Republican incumbent Barbara Comstock and Democratic challenger Jennifer Wexton drew a crowd before the workday. Wexton unseated Comstock in that race.

In the parking lot of one 10th District polling place, many voters made clear that they were galvanized to vote in support of or opposition to President Donald Trump's agenda. Others said divisive and hot-button issues such as gun safety and the congressional hearings on allegations of sexual misconduct by Justice Brett Kavanaugh brought them out.

"Kavanaugh," one woman said when asked to describe why she voted. "Just watching the hearings made me sort of sick. I thought he was unfairly treated."

"Gun safety. That's why I came to vote," another woman said. "I voted for the person who takes the least amount of money from gun lobbyists."

In Maryland, gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous spent the final hours of the campaign promoting his progressive platform to voters in Silver Spring. Jealous is challenging incumbent Gov. Larry Hogan, who is trying to become Maryland's first two-term Republican governor since the 1950s.

Despite Hogan's popularity, some voters on the left are looking to Jealous for a progressive platform in light of Republicans' two-year control of the presidency, House and Senate.

"All the things happening right now, I don't trust the Republican party," one woman said. "Even though I don't know Jealous as well as I should."

Another voter told why he was supporting Hogan.

"I like Larry Hogan, but, you know, I think Jealous makes a lot of good points," he said. "I wish him well in future politics, but right now I'm sticking with Hogan."

In D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser and her baby daughter, Miranda, both sported pink coats when they headed to the mayor's polling place. Bowser is facing three challengers in her bid for re-election.

Competitive down-ballot races, including the school board and at-large Council seat, motivated some D.C. voters. 

"I think we will see higher youth turnout, especially in blue cities like D.C.," one voter said.

Lines and bad weather that some D.C. voters faced were inconveniences that paled in comparison to disenfranchisement and voter suppression that many citizens remembered.

One such citizen is 104-year-old Margaret Norwood, who was born before women were allowed to vote.

Decked out in a raincoat and leopard print hat, Norwood cast her ballot in Northeast D.C. 

Polls were set to close in Virginia at 7 p.m. and in D.C. and Maryland at 8 p.m. If you're in line when polls close, you'll be able to vote. Find more information here on how to vote.

Contact Us