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Opinion: Long Election Day Lines 'Cannot Ever Happen Again'

Woodbridge District Supervisor Frank Principi wonders if the long Election Day lines were due to "antiquated technology, an operational shortfall, a budget issue, or a combination."

A letter to the editor, submitted to Woodbridge Patch on Nov. 8 by Woodbridge District Supervisor Frank Principi: 

Dear Woodbridge Residents,

Election Day is perhaps the greatest expression of our democracy. I would like to thank each and every person that made it to the polls on Tuesday to cast their vote. As many of you know firsthand, there were excessively long lines at several Woodbridge voting locations. As I went from precinct to precinct, I was amazed and uplifted by the positive, patient, and determined citizens waiting in line, as well as the hardworking and empathetic Election Day volunteers. It was remarkable and inspiring. Thank you.

The last ballot was cast at the River Oaks precinct at approximately 10:45pm. At other precincts in the Woodbridge District, voters waited three, four, or five hours to cast their vote. This is completely unacceptable to me. We already face one of the longest commutes in the nation. In today’s economy, having to miss a day’s work to cast your vote is unconscionable. In the seventh most affluent county in the nation, this cannot ever happen again. We must determine the factors that contributed to this situation, asking if it was the result of antiquated technology, an operational shortfall, a budget issue, or a combination. Election operations are obviously a critical unmet need in Prince William and this must be resolved before next year’s election.

I will host a town hall in the coming weeks and invite residents, the Prince William Electoral Board, and the State Electoral Board to address the concerns that arose on Election Day.

If you have additional questions or comments, please feel free to contact me at 703‐792‐4646 or woodbridgedistrict@pwcgov.org.

Sincerely,

Frank J. Principi

Woodbridge District Supervisor

Related content: 

  • Election Day Draws High Voter Turnout in Eastern Prince William County
  • Long Voter Lines Only Due to High Turnout
Rich Anderson November 09, 2012 at 06:08 PM
I believe that Supervisor Principi is correct. Election officials at the local and state levels, along with local and state-level elected officials, need to adequately resource the necessary technology to ensure quick and accurate balloting at our voting places in PWC. Connie Moser is also correct in her observation about the wording of the proposed constitutional amendments. In the future, these must be written in clear, concise, and easily-understood prose. Regardless of these challenges, many thanks to those who voted and those who volunteered their time and talent to work at the polls. Both are at the heart of American democracy! RICH ANDERSON Delegate, 51st House District Virginia General Assembly
Lizzie M. Johnson November 09, 2012 at 07:11 PM
I agree because we had only four booths at Freedom High school . I arrived at 6:50 AM and left at 9AM but it was worth it,
Walker Merryman November 09, 2012 at 09:48 PM
Don't think for a moment that Prince William County or any precinct therein was the only place where people stood in line for hours. It happened all over the country. That's what happens when 75% of the registered voters decide to show up and most of them come before 9AM or after 5PM. Most of the time turnout is much lower and that is apparently what elections officials have used as their planning metric. I don't believe they can be faulted for that. Rather than lash out with spurious accusations about budget requests ignored, take the time to thoughtfully plan for the most likely outcome.
Connie Moser November 09, 2012 at 10:06 PM
I have worked as an election officer numerous times. I arrived at Enterprise at 10:30 AM, specifically because I know that is typically a slow time. (Working folks come when the doors open and are usually gone by 9:30.) We waited two hours. I attended a Lions Club meeting Tuesday night and spoke to others who voted in Dale City...Kerrydale and Beville were also 2 hour waits. Chinn Center was 1 1/2 hours. Busy times at the polls revolve around typical work hours, so as Walker stated, after 5:00 would be a busy time naturally, but it didn't matter what time of day...there was a wait. Besides the amendments I mentioned, another thing that slows folks down is presenting their voter card. People are uncertain what is required, so inevitably, one presents a card and a driver's license and a social security card. If you have a voter card...that is all you need. Then the person checking eligibility asks you to state your name and address. (My immediate reaction is, :Why are you asking me that? It's right on the card!") They ask you that to eliminate mistakes. Then the volunteer checks the registry, then repeats your address back to you, then asks if that's correct...Once you get past that choke point, it usually is a quick venture to vote and get out the door. I watched one lady peer at the screen so long I nudged another election officer and said, "I think you should see if she's nodded off." :-)
Clint Holt November 11, 2012 at 01:12 PM
The choke point at our precinct seemed to be the presence of only two people to check voter IDs. When we made it to the voting room after a nearly two hour wait, there were four open machines. The machines were never fully occupied during my time there because the two assistants checking IDs were not able to do so fast enough to optimize use of the machines. One or two more people to assist with that part of the process would have made a significant difference.

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