WASHINGTON — Election Day 2018 has come and gone.
Residents braved miserable, rainy conditions Tuesday to vote in one of the more consequential midterm elections in memory, as several key races — some with national implications — finally closed in on the finish line.
In his first re-election bid, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan faced former NAACP President Ben Jealous, a Democrat. U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, a Democrat, faced Republican Tony Campbell and two other challengers. And, in the House’s 6th District, Democrat David Trone and Republican Amie Hoeber squared off in a key race for the seat being vacated by Rep. John Delaney.
All 47 seats in the Maryland state Senate and all 141 seats in the House of Delegates were also on the ballot.
In Maryland, over 661,000 early voters had already submitted ballots. Over 80,000 absentee ballots were received by Monday. Polling places were “busy” on Tuesday, said Nikki Charlson, deputy administrator for the state’s Board of Elections.
In Montgomery County, turnout was steady, said county Board of Elections spokesman Gilberto Zelaya.
At one Montgomery County polling location —James Hubert Blake High School — there was a complaint of electioneering, with piles of fliers found in voting kiosks. Yvonne Coyle of Olney told WTOP that a worker said they were too busy to clean the kiosks, even though Coyle didn’t have to wait in line.
“I just think the voting places need to be staffed enough that they can scan the kiosks,” Coyle said.
(The instruction manual for the 2016 presidential election tells Maryland election judges they should be checking periodically to make sure campaign materials don’t get left behind.)
Election judges and voters were being reminded to throw any partisan literature into recycling if they found it in booths or kiosks, Zelaya said.
Three key races had national implications. U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, a Democrat, faced Republican Corey Stewart and Libertarian Matt Waters in his re-election bid. In Virginia’s 10th House District, GOP incumbent Barbara Comstock was in a tight race with the Democratic challenger, Virginia state Sen. Jennifer Wexton. And in the 7th House District, Democrat Abigail Spanberger and Libertarian Joe Walton were challenging Republican Rep. David Brat.
Also on the ballot in the commonwealth were a pair of constitutional amendments.
The Virginia Department of Elections reported that over 370,000 absentee ballots were cast across the commonwealth.
Arlington County was reporting 50 percent in-person turnout late Tuesday afternoon. In Fairfax County, an estimated turnout of over 53 percent was reported as of 4:10 p.m., on pace to easily surpass 2010’s turnout of just over 49 percent. In Alexandria, turnout (including absentee ballots) was nearly 58 percent as of 4 p.m.
In Loudoun County, turnout was just over 42 percent as of 4 p.m. According to WTOP’s Neal Augenstein, an elections officer at a polling station there said that voter turnout was the highest she had seen since 2000, including presidential elections.
On Tuesday morning, Augenstein went to Emerick Elementary School in Purcellville, where the rain began falling early in the morning. Voters were apparently undeterred, Augenstein said, and voting officials called turnout “strong.”
Not long after polls opened, WTOP’s Kristi King spoke with voters in Alexandria about their feelings surrounding this midterm election. Karin Porter told WTOP that she hoped people took advantage of their right to vote.
“I just think that as a whole if we all exercise our right to vote and express ourselves hopefully it can make the changes that we want,” Porter said. “One vote at a time.”
Three candidates challenged D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser in her first re-election bid. District voters also decided council races in Wards 1, 3, 5 and 6, as well as two at-large seats.
Congressional Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton faced four challengers this year, and non-voting Sen. Michael Brown, a Democrat, faced Green Party challenger Eleanor Ory. In another key race, Attorney General Karl Racine was challenged by Libertarian Joe Henchman.
About 5,000 absentee ballots were returned in the District, said the Board of Elections’ Rachel Coll. Unofficially, over 52,000 ballots were cast during early voting. As for turnout, “we have had some lines and it’s been a busy day,” she said in an email.
In the Eastern Market neighborhood, there were long lines because only one vote-counting machine was being used for two precincts (see video below).
“The wait time is unrelated to the combination of two precincts — it has just been experiencing high turnout,” Coll said. “An additional [machine] has been sent over and additional staff have been as well. We hope this will reduce the wait time.”
WTOP’s Alejandro Alvarez and Kristi King contributed to this report.