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Live updates: D.C. primary elections

April 2, 2014
D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser greets supporters outside the LaSalle-Backus Education Campus while going to cast her vote on Tuesday. (Amanda Voisard/Post)

D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser greets supporters outside the LaSalle-Backus Education Campus while going to cast her vote on Tuesday. (Amanda Voisard/Post)

D.C. voters headed to the polls Tuesday to vote in primaries for mayor and a handful of other offices.

The most closely watched race is among the six candidates for the Democratic nomination for mayor, including the incumbent, Vincent C. Gray. The large field and the campaign financing scandal dogging Gray have kept the race fluid.

(Live results from Tuesday’s primary election)

  • Emma Brown
  • ·

Now that the results of Tuesday’s closely watched D.C. primary election are in and the delay in vote counts has been explained, we’re wrapping up these live updates.

But you can read plenty more Post coverage of the results of Tuesday’s races and their implications for the future:

D.C. primary results

Maps: Results and turnout by precinct

Muriel Bowser declares victory in D.C. mayoral primary

Meet Muriel Bowser, “a woman apart in D.C. politics”

A closer look at the Ward 1, Ward 6 and At-Large council races

Voters speak across the city

City polling sites show apparently low turnout

  • Julie Zauzmer
  • ·

Why did it take so many hours for D.C. officials to count ballots on Tuesday night?

Board of Elections officials blamed the delay on five touch-screen voting machines that they said had been shut down incorrectly. Long after polls closed, officials had to drive to precincts in four of the District’s eight wards to pick up the problematic machines, which meant that officials did not finish counting ballots until after 1 a.m.

The drawn-out and messy tabulation drew a barrage of criticism. But Clifford Tatum, the election board’s executive director, said he was largely pleased with the rollout of additional touch-screen machines this year.

Tatum said the election board deployed more than twice as many of machines than in the past. Each precinct had at least two machines, which created difficulties for poll workers who were unfamiliar with the equipment.

“Some of our workers have admittedly never touched laptops before,” he said.

It takes about 10 to 15 minutes to correctly shut down one touch-screen voting machine, Tatum said. And shutting down two machines is more complicated than simply repeating the same process. Workers must transfer a memory card from one machine to the next in order to print a paper audit that displays votes from both machines.

Officials counting votes at the Board of Elections Tuesday night noticed that five of those paper audits were missing a serial number, a clue that at each of those precincts, votes from at least one machine had been left out. So they drove off into the night to pick up the machines.

“It took a little longer than what we’re used to,” Tatum said. “We are confident that the results are accurate, which is what we’re always concerned about, accuracy over speed.”

Tatum said the board will focus on training poll workers before the next election, and may consider asking the council for more money to buy newer voting technology, which is easier to shut down without errors.

He said the board received many calls Tuesday from citizens who complaining that there were not enough touch-screen machines at their polls.

Most voters chose to cast paper ballots on Election Day: 43,440 picked paper, and 29,060 used the machines.

But the machines were much more popular for early voters, perhaps because lines were shorter. Among early ballots, 9,586 were completed by machine, and 954 on paper.

  • Emma Brown
  • ·

Incumbent Anita Bonds is the projected winner of the Democratic nomination for an at-large seat on the D.C. Council.

Bonds, who has served on the council since December 2012, easily defeated challengers John Settles and Nate Bennett-Fleming.

Read The Washington Post’s full D.C. primary election coverage here.

  • Emma Brown
  • ·

With nearly all precincts reporting, Charles Allen has won the Democratic nomination for the D.C. Council’s Ward 6 seat.

A former chief of staff to the current Ward 6 D.C. Council member, Tommy Wells, Allen is well known to voters. He handily defeated Darrel Thompson, who was little-known in local politics before he quit his job — as a staffer for Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid — to run for the council.

Read The Washington Post’s full D.C. primary election coverage here.

  • Emma Brown
  • ·

With nearly all precincts reporting, Brianne Nadeau is the projected winner of the Democratic nomination for the D.C. Council’s Ward 1 seat, ousting four-term incumbent Jim Graham.

Nadeau, a communications consultant, defeated Graham handily. She had made clean government the central theme of her campaign, repeatedly citing the D.C. Council’s reprimand of Graham last year for ethics violations. Last week, Graham – perhaps realizing the serious threat to his seat and his political career — countered with his own allegations that Nadeau acted unethically several years ago when she secured a city-backed housing loan.

Read The Washington Post’s full D.C. primary election coverage here.

  • Aaron C. Davis
  • ·

After conceding the race early Wednesday morning, Gray went further than he had before in blaming prosecutors for altering the outcome.

Gray compared his situation to the election in Virginia last fall to replace former governor Robert F. McDonnell, who had been under investigation for taking gifts in exchange for official actions. In that case, federal prosecutors at the direction of the Justice Department held back on indicting McDonnell and his wife until after the governor’s term had expired in January.

“You had a gubernatorial race, didn’t even involve the incumbent,” Gray said. “But that investigation stopped until that race was over. And I think it’s commonplace for these kinds of investigations to not have some kind of influence on the outcome of an election.”

Gray also blamed the early primary for his defeat: “When you have an election coming out of the winter, that was odd and it wasn’t just that our voters didn’t come out, voters didn’t come out.”

Gray campaign manager Chuck Thies went further than Gray, squarely blaming U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. for altering the results of the election. “One thing changed this election: Ron Machen,” Thies said.

“The only thing that changed this election was the timing of Jeff Thompson’s plea deal, and that timing was decided by …the U.S. Attorney, and the U.S. Attorney should answer the question: Why then? That’s the question, was there imminent harm to people?” Thies said.

  • Emma Brown
  • ·

Muriel Bowser called for unity among Democrats and, echoing her campaign’s central theme, promised a “fresh start” as she accepted her party’s nomination for mayor shortly after midnight Wednesday.

“Today signifies a resounding affirmation of the values we share,” said Bowser, who had cast herself as the only viable alternative to Mayor Vincent C. Gray, whose reputation was tarnished by scandal.

“The outcome of this election is also an affirmation that the status quo is not good enough for us,” Bowser said. “We know we can do better and we know we need a fresh start.”

Bowser reached out to voters who supported Gray and his six other Democratic challengers, saying “the residents of the District of Columbia have always elected a Democratic mayor … and we’re going to do it again in November.”

Bowser now faces D.C. Council member David Catania, an independent, in the general election. Bowser thanked her father, who grew up in LeDroit Park, and her mother, who grew up in Foggy Bottom, and said proudly that “now their daughter can be mayor of the District of Columbia. That’s the Washington, D.C., I believe in.”

Bowser emphasized her support for marriage equality and statehood, saying “taxation without representation is un-American, and we need to change that.”

After her speech, she dodged questions on whether she expected Gray’s endorsement. “We will be reaching out to everyone,” she said. “Our strategy for yesterday is the same strategy for tomorrow.”

Read The Post’s full coverage here.

  • Julie Zauzmer
  • ·

Problems with five or six touch-screen voting machines caused the hours-long delay in counting votes Tuesday night, according to city election officials. 

Vote-counters stopped releasing counts from electronic voting machines when they noticed inconsistencies in several precincts, said Board of Elections spokeswoman Tamara Robinson.

Robinson said that the machines were not shut down properly by poll workers who may have been overwhelmed by the larger number of electronic machines at precincts this year.

After the problematic machines were examined, the Board of Elections released vote counts from 127 precincts. The city did not release results from any touch-screen machines until shortly before midnight.

Robinson said she did not know which precincts the problematic machines were located in. She could not explain what caused the election workers to flag the machines or how they remedied the problem.

  • Emma Brown
  • ·

With most votes counted, Brianne Nadeau has a strong lead over incumbent Jim Graham, the Ward 1 D.C. Council member. Across town in Ward 6, Charles Allen holds a comfortable lead over Darrel Thompson in the race to succeed Tommy Wells on the council.

In the only at-large council race, incumbent Anita Bonds was handily defeating challengers John Settles and Nate Bennett- Fleming.

  • Emma Brown
  • ·

Muriel Bowser is the winner of the Democratic nomination for D.C. mayor, besting incumbent Vincent C. Gray.

Bowser, who represents Ward 4 on the D.C. Council, had surged in the polls in recent weeks, leading the eight-candidate field and riding a wave of voter disenchantment with Gray and his scandal-scarred 2010 campaign.

In a concession speech shortly after midnight, Gray catalogued his accomplishments, including advances in early childhood education. He called for the city to hold primaries later in the year, arguing that snow, cold weather and confusion over the election calendar contributed to poor turnout.

He pledged to remain engaged in the nine months left in his term.

Find the latest election returns here and read The Washington Post’s full D.C. primary election coverage here.

  • Aaron C. Davis
  • ·

Just after 11:30 p.m., Gray campaign manager Chuck Thies took the stage at the Gray campaign watch party and said the mayor was prepared to wait for the Board of Elections to work through “its challenges” and provide a complete tally of paper and electronic ballots.

“We’re waiting for accurate numbers. What’s very important is not how quickly this is done, but how accurately this is done. So we are patiently waiting, the mayor is having dinner. And we will report back as soon as we know anything,” Thies said.

Speaking to reporters after leaving the stage, Thies blasted the media for reporting incomplete results and trying to rush to a call on the election.

“You guys don’t know anything definitive, do you? I mean, is there anyone here who knows the results of this election? Is there any reason we should know the results?” he said. “If you don’t know them, and the Board of Elections doesn’t know them, we have no more information than you have.”

“We’re waiting for numbers that we can actually use to guide the decision making process,” Thies said.

Thies said the campaign would wait until the Board “calls it a night” or provides definitive results.

  • Emma Brown
  • ·

Don’t believe reports that Muriel Bowser is leading Mayor Vincent C. Gray with 81 percent of precincts reporting. The results released so far include paper ballots only, election officials just clarified, and do not include any results from touch-screen electronic voting machines.

D.C. election officials said that there has been a delay counting those electronic votes because poll workers didn’t know how to quickly shut down the machines and transmit results. The Post’s Julie Zauzmer, who is stationed at the D.C. Board of Elections, reports that officials promise that the next batch of results will include electronic results — but it’s not clear when that next batch will be released.

  • Julie Zauzmer
  • ·

Tamara Robinson, a spokesperson for the Board of Elections, blamed the delay in counting votes on poor training of poll workers, who didn’t know how to deal with new electronic voting machines.

So far, only paper ballots have been counted, Robinson said. No touch-screen votes have been tallied yet.

For the first time, every precinct had at least two touch-screen machines this year, Robinson said. Many precinct workers did not know how to quickly shut down multiple machines, leading to long delays in counting the votes.

At the board headquarters, Robinson gave reporters stacks of documents showing results from paper ballots only in 116 precincts. The tally showed only 45,180 votes, fewer than half the estimated turnout. Muriel Bowser led Vincent Gray in the race for mayor, at 19,387 to 15,239 votes.

  • Emma Brown
  • ·

More than three hours after polls closed Tuesday, D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser maintained her lead over Mayor Vincent C. Gray with nearly 45,000 votes tallied. Bowser led Gray at 19,387 to 15,239 votes.

  • Emma Brown
  • ·

Robert Samuels reports:

As election results continue to pour in, the volunteers at Bowser headquarters are displaying an air of confidence that they have won the primary.

Tom Lindenfeld, campaign adviser and longtime DC Democratic campaign mastermind, stood outside the front, scribbling results on on small sheets of white paper. After he took the phone call, a man with gray hair and glass came to hug him.

“We got this,” Lindenfeld told him. “The only question is if we get more than 50 percent…that’s what I’m not sure about.”

Another man then gave him a high five.

“Congrats on another victory!” he said, although, by 11 p.m., fewer than 40 percent of votes had been counted.

“It’s looking good!” he said, pumping his fist. “It’s looking good!”

Victory is all but presumed here. One man showed up with a set of four star-shaped balloons in green and gold, Bowser’s colors. They swayed in the hallway, blending in with the green- and yellow-tinted lights illuminating the room.

“I bought them to give to her when she wins,” said Yinusa Yusuff, 58. “I support her because I know all her experience. She was my ANC commissioner, my council member, and now I want her to be my mayor.” As for Gray, Yusuff simply said: “We’ve had enough of that.”

Yusuff might have had the most outstanding piece of Bowser swag at the headquarters, but only because the candidate hadn’t yet arrived. While Bowser was making her final rounds at voting precincts in Ward 4, she was sporting a bright green wristwatch custom made for the day. “Muriel Bowser,” it read. “Time for change.”

  • Emma Brown
  • ·

D.C. mayoral hopeful Muriel Bowser is preparing to address her supporters in about 10 minutes, according to reporters at the Bowser watch party in Southeast Washington. The D.C. Council member is leading Mayor Vincent C. Gray in early primary results, 44 percent to 34 percent.

  • Emma Brown
  • ·

Mayor Vincent C. Gray is trailing D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser as early results from the Democratic primary trickle in.

With 55 of 143 precincts reporting, Bowser leads with 43.9 percent. Gray has 33.6 percent, and Council member Tommy Wells has 11.8 percent. Fellow Council member Jack Evans, who has just 4.6 percent, said during an interview with WAMU-88.5 FM that he is nevertheless glad he ran. “I have no regrets,” Evans said.

  • Emma Brown
  • ·

Most D.C. political observers are intently focused on the outcome of the primary election. Post columnist Clinton Yates, meanwhile, spent time with a guy who isn’t on the day’s ballot but has a keen interest in the race.

That would be David Catania, the D.C. Council member often described as the mayoral race’s white, gay, ex-Republican candidate. As an independent, Catania will face whoever wins the Democratic primary. It could be a neck-and-neck race against Mayor Vincent C. Gray, according to recent polls that show that Muriel Bowser would be a much more difficult opponent for Catania.

Yates, who followed Catania to Ward 7 polling stations Tuesday, writes:

Catania’s reputation as a person is often boiled down to three categories: white, gay, ex-Republican. Legacy politics in this city would tell you that just one of those things, never mind all three, might make him a long shot for mayor. Some think his best path to victory would be to mobilize gentrifiers.

But east of the Anacostia River, while mostly older, black voters were busy picking among Democratic candidates, Catania appeared right at home.

Read Yate’s entire column here.

  • Emma Brown
  • ·

The Board of Elections has also posted the first results from early voting in the competitive D.C. Council races, offering an early look at what’s to come.

With 1,439 ballots votes counted so far in Ward 1, challenger Brianne Nadeau leads incumbent Jim Graham, 58 percent to 41 percent.

Across town in Ward 6, where just 824 votes have been tallied, Charles Allen leads Darrel Thompson, 57 percent to 42 percent.

And so far incumbent Anita Bonds is leading the race for an at-large seat on the council, with about 51 percent of the 8,217 votes counted so far. Nate Bennett-Fleming has 23 percent, John Settles has 15 percent and Pedro Rubio has 8 percent.

  • Aaron C. Davis
  • ·

Before the returns began to flow, hundreds of supporters, staffers and dozens of reporters filled about a third of the expansive underground ballroom at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill where Mayor Vincent C. Gray was scheduled to speak.

Two 20-foot screens with Gray’s campaign logo flanked a podium drenched in red, white and blue spotlights. Behind a bank of television cameras, supporters noshed on a buffet of crab fritters with Meyer lemon tartar, chicken sausage flatbread and barbecued beef brochette with cola sauce.

For a campaign that often touted its frugal ways, the display amounted to a rare final flourish. It wasn’t entirely a free ride for supporters, however: Cocktails at the cash bar cost $14 and beer was $8 a bottle.

Near 9:30, D.C. Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) was rolled in a wheelchair, wearing a blue blazer and pants. D.C.’s “mayor for life” spoke to reporters for about 10 minutes, saying he remained confident in a Gray win.

The day’s low turnout played to Gray’s strengths, Barry said, because the mayor no longer had the support of the city’s white voters who likely accounted for part of the drop-off in ballots from four years ago.

“In 2010, Gray got 83 percent of the black vote and 17 percent of the white vote,” Barry said. “He doesn’t have the white support that he had in ’10. … He’s motivated the black community, which is his base. He believes in ‘one city,’ but we don’t have one city.”

Barry did acknowledge the race would be close, and the possibility that Bowser could win, which he blamed in part on not having a better enemy.

“Absolutely it’s going to be harder, we don’t have the same kind of anti-Fenty attitude. We ought to have the same Muriel Bowser attitude, because she’s a protégé of Adrian Fenty,” Barry said. “Fenty is written all over her campaign.”

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