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Election workers prepare for long day as polls open  (MD)

By E.B. FURGURSON III    The Capital   12 February 2008

After an early morning rush, and some computer glitches, the poll workers at Cape St. Claire Elementary school settled into what they suppose will be a steady, and long, day.
That was despite voting machine and polling book snafus that caused some delay when the doors opened.

"No. 3 and 4 machines are back up," she said. "But No. 2 is still down."

They got the two machines going again by basically unplugging and plugging them back in.

Outside, the approach to the driveway and parking lot was festooned with signs, all for Republican office seekers save one for 1st Congressional District candidate Frank Kratovil Jr., a Democrat seeking to unseat Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest, R-Kent.

A steady trickle of voters, one or two every few minutes, were making their way indoors to do their duty.

"We are now sitting back and having our coffee, waiting for more people," Ms. Steinkonig said.

She and other precinct judges began their day around 5:30 a.m. and won't get done until well after 9 p.m. when they tote their tallies up to Anne Arundel polling headquarters in Glen Burnie.

The polls close to voters at 8 p.m.

"If we are out of here by 9:30, we'll be lucky."

As to the newish computerized touch screen voting machines, she said the problems with the unoperable machine were beyond her ability to fix, and apparently beyond the skills of the technical assistant perched at Cape St. Claire Elementary.

"The Diebold tech doesn't know anything," she said in frustration. "Teens from Broadneck High did a better job figuring things out last time."

No machine problems were reported at West Annapolis and Germantown elementary school polling places.

"We were open right at 7 a.m.," said Mike Archer, chief judge at the site. "No problems at all. And if we had one he'd be able to fix it," he said pointing to a rumpled young man from Premier Technical Services slouching on a nearby chair.

They only complaints were from poll workers who lamented the low pay for their long day. "We're making less than minimum wage here," Mr. Archer said, only half kidding.

Outside, a lone soul stood to pitch her case against slot machines, as a few voters hurried by to get indoors out of the cold. Slot machines were not on the primary ballot.

Over at Germantown Elementary, Chief Judge Betty Dunaj reported things were moving "a bit slow."

In the first two hours 125 people had voted. "Mostly on the Democratic side," Ms. Dunaj said. Hourly totals posted next to the door showed 86 Democrats and 39 Republicans had voted by 9 a.m.

Several voters declined comments on their choices this morning. One voter however, an African American who declined to be identified, did comment on the historic element of the Democratic presidential choices, where voters will pick either the first woman or African American to run to the White House.

"It is glorious, it really is," she said rushing out of Cape St. Claire Elementary on her way to work.

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