GRANOLAPARK • BY GILBERT
Today, Nov. 5, we’re featuring Takoma Park Election Day coverage right down to the nail-biting finish when the polls close at 8:00 PM. And then, the highly anticipated results. Who will win? Who will be on the next city council?
Er, we already know that. There are no real contests this election. The one challenger, Eric Mendoza in Ward 4, dropped out of the race. The only other official candidate is Elizabeth Wallace, a last-minute write-in mayoral candidate.
But, it’s a nice day to be out, so what the heck?
The polls on a sunny morning – Takoma Park municipal building.
9:20 PM – The final numbers:
Mayor: Bruce Williams: 989, Write-ins: 123
Ward 1: Seth Grimes: 229, Write-ins: 25
Ward 2: Tim Male: 242, Write-ins: 23
Ward 3: Kay Daniels-Cohen: 189, Write-ins: 23
Ward 4: Terry Seamens: 218, Eric Mendoza: 10, Write-ins: 2
Ward 5: Jarrett Smith: 72, Write-ins: 7
Ward 6: Fred Schultz: 125, Write-ins: 3
Results announced by Marilyn Abbott, Chief Election Judge.
Our favorite part of this is that the ballot scanners look like a computers clamped on top of big laundry bins – which we suspect they really are.
8:50 PM – A brief consultation over what the judges decided was a stray mark on a ballot, not a write-in.
What a nail-biter!
8:30 PM – If it were a real election, this would be SO EXCITING!
The press, candidates and interested citizens are sitting at long table on one side of the room. The election judges are facing them at a long table on the other side. The judges are going through the absentee ballots one . . . at . . . a . . . time.
Each ballot is an envelope within an envelope. The Judges open the first one, check the numbers and the identity of the voter, then they record the vote.
No, actually, if it were a real election this would not be exciting.
Kay Daniels-Cohen has thought of a new voting reform – get the judges a letter-opener.
8:10 PM – Polls have closed. At last count voters numbered around 1000. An estimated 45 of those were people who registered today. Around 25 of those were 16 and 17-year-olds.
One of the teens was Lucas Richie, 17, helping to conduct an exit survey for the Voting Task Force. The survey, he said, asked voters for suggestions about getting more people to the polls next time. About 300 people took the poll.
Leandra Carrasco, 30 (and third-time Takoma Park voter), and Lucas Richie, 17 (and first time Takoma Park voter), conducted an exit poll.
The balloting tables and scanning machines are set up in the community center’s Azalea Room.
6:30 PM – 1000 votes cast, including those cast in early voting. With less than 2 hours left before the polls close at 8:00 PM, the number will probably not reach last election’s vote tally, which was close to 2000.
Eric Mendoza, the Ward 4 candidate who dropped out last week, was here at the community center. He said he would issue a statement about his decision in a few days.
A number of new voters registered today, taking advantage of the new law extending voter registration to Election Day. Around 18 of them were 16- or 17-year-olds, according to Craig Terrill, city media specialist.
One of them was John Williamson, resident of Ward 1.
John Williamson on the verge of his first vote.
Williamson, curbing his enthusiasm, said the experience was “fine.”
Though he had few choices – there was no Ward 1 challenger – he was glad to have the experience and the bragging rights. He said a lot of his friends – as many as 30 – were planning to vote. Most of them lived in Wards 1 and 3, he estimated.
He thought it was a good idea to extend voting rights to 16 year olds, it was, he said, “a good idea to get used to the process.”
Terry Seamens supporters have chili, soup, and “pizza biscuits” for voters just outside the community center.
11:00 AM – Voting was light (well, duh!) but steady this morning. The only challenger still standing was there, greeting voters and the press. She is Elizabeth Wallace, resident of Holly Ave, running for mayor because, she says “It drove me crazy” seeing all the uncontested races. People, she says, have thanked her for stepping up, even at the last moment, even though her chances are as slim as a razor blade.
She has a platform other than the desire to fill a space on the ballot, she says. She wants the city recreation department’s programs and classes to include material that ties in with National Core Standards as an assist to the schools and participants’ education. She also wants more city programs for older people: career assistance to unemployed people over 50, and protection and engagement of seniors.
Write-in mayoral candidate Elizabeth Wallace at the polls.
City clerk Jessie Carpenter shows off one of this year’s ballot scanners, provided by contractor Trueballot.
Also available is this voting machine for the visually impaired. They can use the headphones and the keypad (below).
The machine has been used a number of times today.
Politicians were out, despite little or no competition. Ward 5 councilmember Fred Schultz has also been campaigning door to door, he says.
Ward 4 councilmember Terry Seamens was there as well. He was passing out pens and key-rings with attached whistle, compass, and light. Seriously.
Mayor Bruce Williams was also there – second from right.
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