Fears of attempted vote suppression, with armed observers and violent clashes at polling places, failed to materialize in closely contested Virginia.
In fact, Tuesday was largely a typical Election Day for a most atypical election season. There was a scattering of logistical problems, and the mix of high interest and limited resources meant some voters waited hours to cast ballots.
Observers and party officials reported no confrontations in Virginia, which was seen as a possible hot spot with its open-carry firearm laws, a large concentration of Latino immigrant voters and Donald Trump supporters encouraged to keep an eye on polling places.
In the District, election officials said out-of-date voter rolls meant some recently registered voters had to re-register or cast provisional ballots, leading to waits as long as four hours for a few. Voters across Maryland complained about precincts with only one ballot scanner, but officials said operations mostly ran smoothly.
Virginia attracted election watchers from liberal and conservative groups, the federal government and even internationally, but they had few issues to report Tuesday.
Fairfax and Prince William counties were among the 67 jurisdictions where the Justice Department said it would deploy federal poll monitors. Officials said that monitors would examine compliance with federal laws requiring equal treatment for minority voters and, in Fairfax, that ballot materials in Spanish were available as required.
A group called Virginia Civic Engagement Table, which is backed by liberal-leaning groups, deployed 300 volunteers to educate voters about their rights and operated three hotlines. Most reports it received were routine problems. An exception was Coates Elementary School in Herndon, Va., where advocates say wait times reached two hours as election workers checking in voters used an incomplete poll book. The problems were resolved by evening as Fairfax County election officials provided updated voter rolls.
“We really haven’t seen the kind of massive intimidation that people were afraid for,” said Julie Emery, executive director of the Virginia Civic Engagement Table.
No Trump volunteers could be found at several Northern Virginia voting sites where the campaign announced it would deploy poll watchers. Judicial Watch, a conservative group, trained 25 poll workers who were slated to visit as many as 80 precincts to watch for irregularities or election violations.
Police in the southern Virginia city of Chesapeake disputed a viral tweet saying they were escorting black voters to polling places because Trump supporters were harassing them.
Some precincts reported problems with machines that led to long lines early in the day, but election observers described them as minor glitches.
International observers from the election observation mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe surveyed sites in Northern Virginia. As they stopped by Alexandria City Hall, Christine Muttonen, an Austrian representative, said they had few concerns.
In Loudoun County, officials sent a Spanish-speaking poll worker and a laptop to a Sterling polling place after a report that there were no election staffers there who could assist Spanish-speaking voters.
“We do want to be able to help people,” said Judy Brown, elections director in Loudoun County. “We don’t want people to think they can’t come and vote because of a language issue.”
One voter at the precinct, Meymo Sturges, said she notified election officials of the problem after seeing the voter in front of her, who did not speak English, struggling to cast a ballot.
“It is morally reprehensible,” Sturges said. “I believe in the sanctity of the ballot. I believe it is reprehensible not to have multiple languages posted.”
In tiny Westmoreland County on Virginia’s Northern Neck, new precincts hadn’t been listed on the state’s polling-place-lookup website. General Registrar Kristin Hicks said voter databases were slow to update and that some notices about the precinct changes hadn’t gone out until Friday.
The county planned to air Election Day radio advertisements to spread the message about the precinct changes, Hicks said. Voters who came to outdated precincts were able to cast provisional ballots.
Across Washington, voters who thought they had registered this fall were told otherwise when checking in at polling places, even though some of their names showed up in the District’s online verification system.
“Unfortunately, there was a lag time between what was uploaded into our poll pads and the time that the voter registration cards went out,” said Tamara Robinson, a spokeswoman for the D.C. Board of Elections.
Robinson said people who came to polling stations with a driver’s license or another proof of address should have been able to register and cast a regular ballot, while those without proof could cast a provisional ballot. She said the problem affected less than 1 percent of voters.
For Samantha Randazzo, that meant a four-hour ordeal at her Woodley Park precinct.
After receiving her voter registration card in the mail several days ago, Randazzo, 25, waited an hour in line, only to be told her name didn’t appear in the system. Then she waited nearly two hours in line as one poll worker processed same-day registrations, only to be told she needed to bring a lease or utility bill.
“Why would I have brought proof of address when I had my voter card on me and it has my address on it?” said Randazzo, who ran back to her apartment to grab a pile of mail.
But the Hillary Clinton supporter said the ordeal was worth it to vote in a election she described as the most disturbing of her lifetime.
“If, God forbid, we wake up tomorrow to Trump’s America, I don’t want to think that I didn’t have my voice heard,” Randazzo said.
In Maryland, top state election administrators Linda Lamone and Nikki Charlson said voting got off to a mostly smooth start, with some reports of long lines and the replacement of about 20 paper ballot scanners.
Election officials in Dorchester County, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, alerted state police to a man falsely telling voters that a precinct was closed, but he was gone by the time authorities arrived. Montgomery County police received a report of someone impersonating a federal immigration officer asking about illegal immigrants voting, but could not find that man or the person who reported him.
In Prince George’s County, election judges reported backlogs at Judith Hoyer Elementary School and Eleanor Roosevelt High School, where the wait time approached two hours during the lunch rush with one ballot scanner and hundreds of people in line .
Voters echoed similar concerns elsewhere in the state. Multiple voting machines had been reserved for the largest precincts, leaving others with voters who had to show a great deal of patience.
“This is for the birds,” said Mary Shiflett, 74, a retired former cook who waited nearly two hours to cast a ballot in the tiny blue-collar town of Edgemere east of Baltimore.
Voters at an elementary school in Edgemere waited in line for nearly three hours to cast their ballots. At 7 p.m., more than 200 people were standing in a line that wrapped about 100 yards around the school.
In Baltimore, voting went more smoothly than it had during the April primary, when several precincts opened late, hundreds of election judges didn’t show up, and nearly 1,200 provisional ballots were improperly counted.
But there was a tumultuous start at the Beth Am synagogue, where voting started nearly an hour late after multiple election judges didn’t show up. The chief election judge caused a disruption and was asked to leave the precinct, said Armstead B.C. Jones Sr., Baltimore’s election director.
Dana Hedgpeth, Faiz Siddiqui, Tom Jackman, Abigail Hauslohner, Josh Hicks and Arelis R. Hernández contributed to this report