News & Politics

Voting Picks Up as People Come Home, but Turnout Remains Light

The polling places get a bit more crowded in the evening, but not by much.

Polling places get busier once people get home from work, but it seems doubtful this primary will come close to matching 2010’s turnout of about 135,000 voters. Shortly before 6 PM, 481 people had come through the polling place at Marie Reed Community Center on 18th St., NW, in Adams Morgan, making it unlikely to match the 994 who voted there four years ago.
The plaza outside the polling place featured a fuller lineup of mayoral campaigns, with people sporting T-shirts and literature for Vince Gray, Tommy Wells, Muriel Bowser, and Andy Shallal. Just as Gray’s leaflets east of the Anacostia River featured a message from Marion Barry, his literature in Ward 1 comes printed in English and Spanish for the large Latino population there.
But Ward 1 is also home to one of the few competitive down-ballot races, as incumbent Council member Jim Graham faces a strong challenge from Brianne Nadeau. Their contest got a bit more spotlight last week when Graham publicly confronted Nadeau over a home loan she received in 2009, but the spat is still unfamiliar to several voters exiting the precinct at Cesar Chavez Public Charter School, where Nadeau is greeting voters.
“I just think he’s pretty corrupt, like most politicians here,” says Taryn McKinnon. McKinnon, 26, is an example of the thousands of new residents who have moved into Ward 1 as neighborhoods like Columbia Heights, Adams Morgan, Shaw have become younger, wealthier, and whiter as old row houses make way for modern, mixed-use developments filled with hip restaurants and pricey apartments.
McKinnon is more focused on the mayor than her Council member, though.
“If Vince Gray gets re-elected, I would blame myself,” she says.
The precinct captain inside the school reports 402 voters through 6:30, a figure she puts on par with 2010. But even though the line is getting longer as people stop to vote on the way home, it does not appear to match the last mayoral primary, when 876 people came through.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.