Planning Commissioner Killed in Accident

Richard Hefter, 54, a Prince William County planning commissioner, was killed Thursday when he drove his Toyota Corolla from his residential street onto Route 29 and was struck by another vehicle.

Hefter, of the 5500 block of Pageland Lane in Gainesville, died at the scene, said Sgt. Kim Chinn, a police spokeswoman.

The other driver, a 63-year-old Manassas man headed south in a Toyota RAV-4, was not injured.

Alcohol and speed were not factors in the incident, and both drivers were wearing seat belts, police said. The accident is under investigation, and no criminal charges are pending, Chinn said.

Hefter served on the Prince William County Planning Commission from 1986 to 1989 and from 1992 to 1995 and was appointed in March to another three-year term. A replacement will be named later this year, said Sean T. Connaughton (R), chairman of the Board of County Supervisors.

Fairfax Workers Help Out in Voter Office

Eight Fairfax County employees, including budget analysts and court officers, took a break from their jobs yesterday to help with a backlog of filing in the registrar's office, county officials said.

Registrar Diane McIntyre has come under criticism from people who say she has been slow to prepare for the presidential election. Nearly 50,000 voters have been added to the rolls since 2000, and tens of thousands of absentee ballots have been requested.

The Human Resources Department sent out a memo last week seeking volunteers to file registrations and absentee ballot applications. More county workers are scheduled to help out next week and will receive their regular salaries, according to a county spokesman.

Prince William Gets Top Bond Rating

A leading bond rating agency upgraded Prince William County yesterday to the highest rating, citing the county's economic growth, tax rate reduction and multiyear economic planning.

Fitch Ratings raised the rating from AA+ to AAA, based on what it called the county's economic strength, prudent fiscal management and increasing immersion in the "growing, deep and diverse Washington D.C. regional economy."

"It's obviously a major milestone," said Sean T. Connaughton (R), chairman of the Board of County Supervisors. "The county has never been AAA, and it joins just a handful of communities across the country."


Electronic Voting Foes Barred From Polls

A federal judge yesterday blocked electronic voting opponents from stationing people to watch for problems with the state's machines at polling places on Election Day.

Ruling in a lawsuit filed against the state by the advocacy group TrueVoteMD, U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz said the group's observers could not watch voting inside polls or stand within 100 feet of the front door.

Motz said the group, which also planned to hand out fliers contending that Maryland's electronic voting system is flawed, could disrupt the last few quiet moments that voters have to think about an election before they vote.

"I don't think it is too much to ask for 100 feet of peace," Motz said in denying TrueVoteMD's request to let its members work at the polls. "You ought to have just a brief moment for pause."

TrueVoteMD has trained about 400 people to work in precincts Nov. 2. The group had planned to put people inside to watch some of the state's 16,000 machines. Volunteers outside would have collected voter complaints.

TrueVoteMD forged an agreement with the Maryland attorney general's office to allow its volunteers inside the polling places. But the state later told TrueVoteMD that its members could not stand within the 100-foot limit where campaigning or canvassing voters is forbidden by law.


City to Collect Hazardous Waste Today

The D.C. Department of Public Works will collect household hazardous waste as well as computers, televisions and other electronic gear from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. today at the parking lot of the Carter Barron Amphitheatre near 16th and Kennedy streets NW.

Batteries, paint, solvents, printers, cell phones and many other items will be accepted. Broken or cracked recycling bins will be exchanged for new ones. For information, call 202-727-1000.

Police to Increase Patrols on Election Day

D.C. police will step up patrols near polling places on Election Day, Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey announced yesterday.

Ramsey said he was putting more officers on patrol near the precincts, restricting days off and requiring 12-hour shifts Nov. 2. Authorities want extra precautions for the first presidential election since the 2001 terror attacks, Ramsey said. The city has been on heightened alert since federal homeland security officials said in August that threats had been received against the downtown buildings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

Two Killed in Separate Shootings

A man was fatally shot and a woman was wounded yesterday in Southeast Washington, D.C. police said. Another fatal shooting occurred last night in Northwest.

The first attack occurred near 36th Street and Minnesota Avenue about 3 p.m. police said. The second occurred about 10 p.m. in the 400 block of Lamont Street. None of the victims' names were available immediately.

Voting Rights Advocates Present Views

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and other District voting rights advocates told an international team of election monitors yesterday that residents of the nation's capital should have the same full representation in Congress as state residents.

The voting rights advocates briefed monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, who are in this country for the presidential elections. The team, from the organization's Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, heard presentations on subjects that included the city's quest for voting rights, and alleged human rights violations in the District.

"We told [the team] that . . . we need their intervention . . . to shame Congress into acting," said Timothy Cooper, executive director of Worldrights, who moderated. The organization has not decided whether to include the District in its election report, he said.

"The whole family, they respect the sentence, and they forgive him. There's a superior court for all this, which is a court of God."

-- Endalkachew Zewdie, responding to the 16-month prison sentence given to a motorist whose SUV struck his friend Fitsum Gebreegziabher and dragged him along Interstate 95. -- Page B1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Del Quentin Wilber, Martin Weil, Karlyn Barker, Lisa Rein, Eric M. Weiss and Ian Shapira and the Associated Press.