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Heavy turnout reported locally

November 02, 2004|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

The phones were ringing off the hook this morning at the Washington County Election Board, but workers there weren't fielding many complaints, they were directing voters to their proper precinct.

Meanwhile, voters lined up in high numbers at various precincts in the county.

By 9 a.m., 650 people had voted at Paramount Elementary School, 327 at Smithsburg Elementary School and 300 at Lincolnshire Elementary School, according to chief judges at those locations.

Audrey Coffelt, a part-time Election Board staff member, said she wasn't sure how voter turnout was panning out at about 9 a.m.

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"We have no idea," she said. People working the polls "can't get through on the phones," she said.

Coffelt, who was distracted during the phone interview by phones ringing in the office, said that Election Board staff members were talking to people who were calling in to make sure they were headed to the right precinct.

"We have a high number of people going to vote," she said. "They need to call in and find out where they're registered."

Coffelt said that any complaints about the new electronic voting machines were routed to service technicians.

She said she didn't know if the computers were causing any problems.

The computers were working "beautifully" at Paramount Elementary School this morning, said Lois Quesenberry, chief Republican judge.

And the stream of voters was steady: Within the first two hours, 650 people had voted, she said.

Quesenberry, who said she's worked the past three or four elections, said the turnout is the "highest one that I've ever seen."

At Bethel Gardens Community Center, manager Cathy Dotson said this morning's flow was heavier than normal.

"More than what I expected. Things are going well. I just voted myself," Dotson said.

At Lincolnshire Elementary School, voters arrived before the polls opened at 7 a.m. By 9:45 a.m. 389 people had voted, said Anita Elliott, chief Democratic judge.

"We have 1,957 voters in this precinct and we're already over our 300 mark. That's good for this particular area," Elliott said. Elliott, who worked the 2000 election, said this year's turnout is much higher.

Neither Bethel Gardens nor Lincolnshire reported any problems with the electronic voting machines.

At Smithsburg Elementary School, Betty Meyers, chief Republican judge, said that the computers weren't causing any problems for voters, either.

Meyers said that Smithsburg Elementary School had "a very good turnout."

She said that 327 people had voted as of 9 a.m. "We had 191 in the first hour," she said.

Bill Maletzky, chief Republican judge at the Washington County Free Library, said that 127 people had voted as of 9 a.m.

He said that voters were not having any problems with the computers. "We're not expecting any, either," he said.

Margi Olszeski, secretary at South Hagerstown High School, saw the voters coming into the school through the main doors.

"It's very crowded and there's a constant stream coming in," Olszeski said.

Staff Writer Wanda Williams contributed to this story.

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