The signs (and sounds) of Election Day in D.C.

Voters in D.C. cast ballots Tuesday in the closely watched Democratic primary race for mayor between Adrian Fenty and Vincent C. Gray.
By Petula Dvorak
Tuesday, September 14, 2010

In one small block outside a Capitol Hill polling place, a local candidate had 33 huge blue campaign signs lining the street.

Think that's ambitious? The other guy plastered 76 of his red ones there. If that isn't enough to sway your vote, campaign workers -- hopped up on flats of frosted doughnuts and pre-dawn pep chants -- will be on hand to helpfully paste you with stickers and bombard you with fliers. Perhaps, opposing camps will even be screaming at each other on their megaphones, as they were one day last week in the District.

In the District, the early election antics peaked during the final minutes of voting Monday afternoon, as one mayoral candidate stood on a corner shaking hands, a pounding megaphone squawk filled the late summer air and I counted 87 campaign signs in one especially abused planter.

"Noise. It's all just noise," one irritated voter snapped, sweeping his hand toward the spectacle. His voting decisions were made weeks ago, based on the reading he did about the candidates, he said.

Voters arriving at their early polling places in Prince George's County last week said they were stormed by eager-beaver candidates and campaign workers who pushed literature into their hands before they had a chance to put them up in protest.

In Silver Spring, political yard signs have been plucked from outside homes by a sign bandit who is working faster than a weed whacker and leaving puzzled victims in his wake. He's hit the supporters of multiple candidates.

This is as close as it gets to Mardi Gras up here, people.

Don't believe me? Did you know that alcohol sales are banned in Kentucky and South Carolina on Election Day? And Indiana repealed its Election Day blue law just a few months ago. I can't imagine an election night in the District without the Tuesday $2 Miller Lite draft special at the Hawk 'n' Dove.

Party on, Potomac region.

With a hotly contested mayor's race in the nation's capital and a phalanx of newcomers galloping after an open county executive's seat in Prince George's County, the local primary election season has been particularly spicy this year.

And any hopes that a prolonged voting period would alleviate need for the traditional, last-minute polling-place madness were dashed last week, when only a trickle of people took advantage of early voting.

In the District, 15,000 voters of about 336,000 who are eligible to vote in this primary showed up at the early polling stations. In Maryland, just 77,288 of about 3.2 million registered voters cast their ballots early.

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