Although elections officials provided a second machine for voters from the precincts closest to each of the eight voting centers, it was not nearly enough. By midday, they were scrambling to add a third and fourth machine to each polling place. Voters from across town could cast ballots with little delay, however.
Daniel Johnson and daughter Danielle Carter came to King Greenleaf after encountering long waits at the Dorothy I. Height Benning Library in Ward 7, near their home in Deanwood. Instead of the two-to-three-hour wait there, they found a wait of 30 to 45 minutes across the river.
Carter said she’d expected to wait 15 or 20 minutes. “It’s discouraging,” she said. She was not alone in her frustration.
“We thought we would come and get it done early, but it’s not organized,” said Melvina Brorman, 70, who waited nearly two hours in Columbia Heights. “My knees are buckling. I suffer from arthritis.”
Others said they didn’t mind the wait, noting that the District is overwhelmingly Democratic and that they were enthusiastic about casting their ballot for Obama.
“I think if you are coming out first thing in the morning, you are willing to wait,” said Andrea Gittleman, who said she voted for Obama.
In Montgomery, the line to vote at the Silver Spring Civic Building snaked to Ellsworth Drive and east on Fenton Street to the Whole Foods, where it met shoppers rushing to stock up on groceries before the storm. Despite a wait of up to two hours, few complained.
“I was just anxious to vote for Obama-Biden,” said Opal Hyde, 81, who waited in line 90 minutes.
Others said their decision to vote on a Saturday would free up their schedule on Election Day.
“I’ve got things to do, so who knows what will happen on Election Day,” said Bibeka Lemus, 39, of Silver Spring. “I had the time today.”
Early voting continues at eight locations in the District through Nov. 3, except for Sunday. Polling sites are open from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m, and any registered voter can cast a ballot at any location.
Maryland’s early voting will be held each day through Thursday. Starting Monday, the locations will be open from 10 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Virginia does not have early voting open to any voter but offers absentee voting, an option only for those who cannot make it to the polls on Election Day for certain reasons, such as military service, jury duty or a long commute.