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Lines, Lines, Lines   (VA)
Washington Post    12 February 2008

Post reporters at several Northern Virginia polling stations found voting went relatively smoothly this morning, with turnout apparently brisk.

But there also has been some disgruntlement.

Reporter Jerry Markon says Arlington County officials were fielding complaints from irate voters today.

"We're getting people jumping up and down who are very angry at us and don't think we know what we're doing,'' said Allen Harrison, chairman of the Arlington County Electoral Board.

Jonathan Adkins, for example, encountered a two-hour wait when he tried to vote at 10 a.m. at St. George's Episcopal Church in the Virginia Square neighborhood. He returned at 11:30 same problem. So Adkins, who has the flu, went home and said he wouldn't be able to vote.

He said the line moved slowly because there was only one table of poll workers checking voters in. In past elections, he said, there had been several tables.

"I was extremely frustrated to say the least,'' said Adkins, who called the county to complain. "It's very disheartening. I expect to wait awhile, but I don't expect chaos.''

Harrison said staffing is low because it's increasingly hard to find people willing to be poll workers, a job that pays $130 for the day. He said the county advertised extensively through local service clubs and on the Internet but was only able to recruit and train about 500 poll workers county-wide. "We could easily use another hundred without batting an eye, maybe even more than that.''

Harrison said the county also failed to anticipate that Virginia's primary would be so important and attract such high turnout because many election observers had thought the Democratic and Republican races would be wrapped up after the recent Super Tuesday primaries. "According to things I read, there was a question of whether it would all be decided by today,'' he said.

The county will "rethink" its approach for the November elections, Harrison added. "I don't know where we can get more people, but we are constantly after them,'' he said. "We'll be jumping up and down trying to get people who can work the polls.''

Other Post readers called and wrote about problems they perceived.

Martita Marx, 64, of McLean, complained about the decision of Fairfax County officials to keep schools open on election day (in contrast to Maryland schools, which were closed). She said the parking lot at Langley High School was jammed.

"You cannot find a place to park," she said. "How many people are going to turn around and leave and not vote? This is so ridiculous."

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