Presidential Race Seen Spurring Record Turnout
Byline: S.A. Miller, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Voters in the District, Maryland and Virginia go to the polls today to elect members to the U.S. House, Senate and various local government offices and to cast ballots in a tight presidential race.
Election officials, citing a recent spike in newly registered voters, high interest in the presidential race and a pleasant fall forecast, expect a record turnout - perhaps as high as 80 percent.
The National Weather Service said temperatures will be in the upper 60s with mostly cloudy skies and a 30 percent chance of showers after the polls close.
Polls in the District and Maryland are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Virginia polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
A new federal law requires jurisdictions nationwide to ask all first-time voters to present some form of identification, but Virginia is the only area jurisdiction where poll workers are instructed to ask all voters to present identification.
Virginia voters who don't have acceptable identification - a voter-registration card, driver's license, or government or employment ID card - are allowed to cast a ballot after signing an affirmation of identity.
"What we really want to stress is that you cannot be turned away at the polls because you don't have identification," said Clay Landa, a policy analyst for the Virginia State Board of Elections.
Under the Help America Vote Act, adopted in 2002, first-time voters who registered by mail since Jan. 1, 2003, must be asked to show identification. First-time voters who lack identification can cast a provisional ballot that will be counted after officials verify the voter's eligibility.
For other voters, the requirements in Maryland and the District are simpler: neither jurisdiction requires any presen- tation of identification, though Maryland does ask that voters provide their name, address and the day and month of their birth.
Would-be voters in the District are urged to carry their identification anyway, though. Officials say a valid ID might be necessary to get into some of the government buildings where the polling stations are located.
In accordance with the federal Voting Rights Act and local election laws, all three jurisdictions allow voters who are illiterate, don't understand English or suffer from mental of physical handicaps to vote with the assistance of a friend or poll worker.
Federal and local laws prohibit voters from being assisted by their employers, union representatives or agents of their employers or unions. People who have been deemed mentally incompetent by the courts are not permitted to …
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Publication information: Article title: Presidential Race Seen Spurring Record Turnout. Contributors: Not available. Newspaper title: The Washington Times (Washington, DC). Publication date: November 2, 2004. Page number: B01. © 2009 The Washington Times LLC. COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group.
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