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If you didn’t know there was an election today, you’re far from the only one. In the special election for District I school-board representative, writer Mary Lord was the only candidate on the ballot, and her campaign for a body eviscerated by Mayor Adrian Fenty‘s schools takeover hasn’t elicited much turnout around Wards 1 and 2.
In the three years Arnold Goldberger has worked the polls at the Marie Reed Learning Center in Adams Morgan, he usually sees three or four hundred voters by the early afternoon. By that time on Tuesday, he’d seen eight.
“Normally when we open the polls at 7 a.m., there’s a line to the front door,” he says. “People in this precinct, they’re active. They vote.”
By 2:15, only six people had voted at Garnet-Patterson Middle School.
Brent Beemer, a 37-year-old government employee who lives in Logan Circle, was one of the few who turned out to vote. He says not knowing Lord couldn’t stop him from fulfilling his civic duty.
“We yell about our voting rights in this city all the time,” Beemer says. “So when given the chance to exercise them, I think that we should. It’s just the right thing to do.”
Louise Green, the precinct captain at Metropolitan Baptist Church and a 30-year-veteran poll worker, described the voter turnout for the special election as “very low.”
But there was some excitement to be found. Arlester Brown, precinct captain at Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church, had seen more action than most in his ward. By 4 p.m., he’d processed a whopping 17 voters, and he’d even witnessed a protest. A voter came to the polls, took his ballot, and then refused to vote, according to Brown, saying he was protesting the polls being open for just one candidate.
Board of Elections and Ethics spokesperson Bill O’Field says he won’t take the protest of the $250,000 election personally. “It is an undervote, basically,” he says. “That’s the voter’s right.”
Back at Marie Reed, Goldberger didn’t get nearly so much action. “We’re going to petition the board…to give us extra pay for boredom,” he says.