Voter Voices: Virginia Voter Turnout Not As High?

Officials warn of phony calls about polling places

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A late rush could change things but in the inner suburbs of Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax County, the projected turnouts of 80 percent to 90 percent do not seem to be materializing, according to News4 reporter Julie Carey. 

Alexandria and Arlington looked to be about 70 percent as of 5:45 p.m. -- about what they had in 2004. Again, these are very preliminary figures so that could change.

Voters reported long lines across the Washington region at 8 a.m., but lines dwindled in some parts of the area by 10 a.m.  Lines were expected to grow again through the early evening.

Some areas reported very large turnout, and the entire state of Virginia was voting at a record-setting pace.

The executive secretary of the Virginia State Board of Elections said at a briefing in Richmond that 30 percent to 40 percent of the state's more than 5 million registered voters had cast ballots Tuesday morning. Nancy Rodrigues said that typically the turnout is about one-half of that pace.

She estimated that more than 75 percent of Virginia's registered voters will have cast ballots by the time the polls close at 7 p.m.

While Rodrigues acknowledged long lines at the polls and some problems with voting machines, she said it is not extraordinary given the historic nature of this vote.

Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain have heavily courted Virginia, a battleground state in the presidential election.

Richard in Falls Church, Va., e-mailed nbcwashington.com and said his precinct has about 1,400 registered voters, and as of 11:30 a.m. more than 700 had already voted (not counting absentee ballots).

"This is the largest turnout I have seen so far in almost 30 years voting in the same precinct," Richard said.

Al Thomas, a Fort Washington, Md., voter, took video from his polling location.  Another voter sent in images of the lines at his polling location in Landover, Md.  While the line was long at Matthew Henson Elementary School, the voter remained positive.

"It's wonderful to see so many people participating in the democratic process," he said. "The lines are long and we had to park around the corner. It is worth these minor inconveniences to have the privilege of voting in free elections."

Dina Duffy, who voted in Chantilly, Va., said the lines there were the longest she's seen in the last 18 years she's voted at her polling location.  She said there were a lot more young people voting than in the past.

"The funniest comment I heard was a young girl talking on her cell phone telling the person to 'Get over it. It's not any different than waiting in line to get into the club,'" Duffy wrote.  "Great perspective."

Virginia Issues

Some problems were reported in Virginia. 

George Mason University reported that someone hacked into the school's e-mail system and sent out a message to the university stating that the election date had been moved to Wednesday.  The school sent out another e-mail soon after alerting students, faculty and staff about the false statement:

"It has come to my attention early this morning that a message was hacked into the system fraudulently stating that election day has been moved," Provost Peter Stearns said in the e-mail.  "I am sure everybody realizes this is a hoax, it is also a serious offense and we are looking into it.  Please be reminded that election day is today, November 4th."

In Richmond's north end, hundreds of voters encircled a branch library by the scheduled 6 a.m. Tuesday opening of voting, but they had to wait 25 minutes before the first ballot could be cast, according to the Associated Press. Poll workers said the librarian had overslept, locking them out.

In suburban Henrico County, state election officials report that some touch-screen machines are malfunctioning.  Voters in Hanover County also report problems with voting machines, according to the Associated Press.

Some Virginia voters are getting telephone calls with deceptive information about where to vote.

The State Board of Elections said the automated calls are intended to mislead voters about their polling places.  The board's advice to voters: don't believe the calls. If your polling place has been changed, you won't be told by an unsolicited robo-call.

Your best bet is to check your polling location before you head out to vote.

Did you run into any problems in your effort to vote?  Find extremely long lines?  Did someone try to stop you from voting?  Or did you have a smooth experience?

We want to hear from voters from the entire Washington region.  Send an e-mail to votervoices@nbcwashington.com and let us know about your Election Day experience.  E-mail your photos and videos, too.  We may use your story online and on News4.

Voter Video:

Voting at North Bethesda Middle School

97-Year-Old Woman Votes for First Time

Large Line to Vote on 14th Street in NW D.C.

Voters Line Up in Fort Washington, Md.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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