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Spotsylvania election volunteers err in programming machines, resulting in lost votes

 Lee Hill Elementary voters are split between the 1st and 7th congressional districts.
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Date published: 11/7/2012


"We were all the way inside and they told her: Everything is stopped. We only have 50 paper ballots," Leonard said. "I just really felt sorry for her."

Percy Mitchell, his wife, Vivian, and their daughter, Chastity Taylor, arrived at Lee Hill Elementary about 6 a.m. to cast their votes before the two women went to work. They waited an hour outside in the cold and had just reached the gym when they learned of the problem with the machines.

Mitchell said they were told it could take 1 hours to get the problem fixed, so they left.

Vivian Mitchell headed to work and hoped to return before polls closed at 7 p.m., her husband said. But he doubted his daughter would make it back in time to vote since she works in Tysons Corner.

"Today, I set aside to come and do this," Mitchell said. "I wasn't as frustrated as some other people."

One of those other people was Susan Franklin. She arrived at Lee Hill Elementary at 6:15 a.m. so she could vote before work. She left an hour later when she heard about the problem.

She was thankful to have an understanding boss who let her take an early lunch break to return.

Once the machine problems were resolved, voting officials gave people at Lee Hill Elementary the option of using paper ballots to help speed them along, and many 7th District voters took advantage of that option. First District voters did not have to wait for a machine.

Robert Bruton Jr. emerged from voting about 11 a.m. after waiting two hours.

"I'm usually in and out," he said of his previous voting experiences at that precinct.

Larry Pritchett had to try three times before he was finally able to vote.

He pulled up to the Lee Hill Community Center at 6 a.m., but left after taking one look at the long line. He had to be at a meeting in a little over an hour.

"I said, I ain't gonna make this," Pritchett recalled.

So he returned to the polling place on his lunch break. But he said the line was crawling, so he left a second time without voting.

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