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Fairfax GOP To Probe Voting Card Procedures

Some Allegedly Allowed To Cast Ballot Later

By Lisa Rein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 5, 2004; Page B01

Fairfax County's Republican chairman said the GOP is investigating whether some voters, who had checked in and received cards allowing them to vote, were allowed to leave polling places on Tuesday and return when lines were shorter.

Eric Lundberg said he is also concerned that a shortage of cards at some locations prompted poll workers to tear them in half, raising the possibility that someone could have voted twice.

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"Those cards are never supposed to leave the polling location," said Lundberg, who said he witnessed the practice in his home precinct in Vienna. "They're supposed to have guidelines in place to make sure there is integrity in the voting process . . . but people were standing outside, unsupervised."

The blue index-size cards were distributed to voters once their names were verified in poll books. Voters then waited in a second line to cast their ballots with touch-screen machines, producing the cards as their tickets to vote.

Lundberg said he has lined up a lawyer and former Electoral Board chairman to review how widespread the flexibility with blue cards was. He has not disputed any election results in Fairfax, which Democrat John F. Kerry carried over President Bush by 32,668 votes.

Margaret K. Luca, secretary to the county Electoral Board and a Democrat, dismissed Lundberg's complaints, saying he was "looking for something to complain about" on an Election Day that ran smoothly for the most part, despite long lines, new technology and tens of thousands of new voters.

Luca said she did not have firsthand knowledge of any voters leaving polls with the blue cards. She said that if any left, they should have been asked to sign a paper affirming that they had not voted earlier in day. She acknowledged that some poll workers tore the cards in half when they ran out but denied that the practice led to fraud. She said her biggest concern on Tuesday was that voters not be disenfranchised. Poll workers "were told to use their best judgment" to adapt to large crowds.

The GOP complaint reflects a continuing partisan squabble over election officials' preparation for Tuesday's voting. Registrar Diane McIntyre, a Republican, came under scrutiny in recent weeks by some of her staff, and the Democrat-controlled Electoral Board reported disorganization in her office. She eventually brought on extra staff to help with filing, new registrations and absentee ballot requests. Board Chairman Nancy Krakover, the Republican on the three-member panel, came to McIntyre's defense.

Lundberg blamed Luca for poorly training some election workers, who otherwise would not have allowed voters to leave polling places and return.

"The question is," he said, "were there policies in place to handle that kind of influx" of voters?

The county GOP committee also criticized Luca's performance in last November's election, when touch-screen voting machines debuted in Fairfax. A number of them crashed, delaying the reporting of vote tallies by almost a day. Some voters found them confusing.


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