Election Day 2022: Polls close around the region

Maryland democratic gubernatorial nominee Wes Moore speak with a supporter during a campaign stop on Election Day in Ellicott City, Md, Tuesday, Nov 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)

After months of campaigning, voters in D.C., Maryland and Virginia had the last say as they voted Tuesday.

The polls are closed in D.C., Maryland and Virginia.

Here’s what happened today:

In one of the first races to be called tonight, Associated Press has projected Democrat Wes Moore will become the first Black governor for the state of Maryland.

Even though some races may not be counted for days – even into next week – some of the big ones will be decided Tuesday night. As such, some candidates and their supporters got ready to party, and even cry.

In the District, WTOP’s Mike Murrillo was at Mayor Muriel Bowser’s campaign headquarter, where the atmosphere was festive.

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Joining Bowser on the ballot were Republican Stacia Hall, independent Rodney “Red” Grant and Libertarian Dennis Sobin.

In Virginia, WTOP’s Dick Uliano visited a restaurant in Woodbridge, where supporters of 7th District candidate Yesli Vega gathered.

Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger and Vega, Republican Prince William County supervisor, are in a tight race in a district that was also redrawn, in this case to leave out areas outside Richmond that went heavily for Spanberger, who is also seeking her third term.

And in Baltimore, Maryland, WTOP’s Kate Ryan was at Moore’s party.

November 28, 2022 |

Moore beat Republican Dan Cox.

Earlier on Election Day, there was some confusion in Prince George’s County over where to vote.

Throughout the day, more than 100 people showed up at the Southern Technology and Recreation Complex in Fort Washington. Those voters were turned away because that is not a polling place. Though it was an early voting site and was one of 40 vote centers in 2020, that was not the case this year.

Due to nationwide concerns about voter intimidation, election officials and official poll workers were extra vigilant to make sure people who designate themselves as “poll watchers” stay within the lines – both figuratively and literally.

WTOP’s Neal Augenstein reported Maryland BOE Deputy Administrator Nikki Charlson said any unusual activity with poll watchers should be reported to authorities.

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Meanwhile, in Falls Church, Virginia, WTOP’s Kristi King spoke to a poll watcher who said she’ll be observing activities at that voting center until ballots got loaded on trucks toward their final destination.

November 28, 2022 |

In Fairfax County, election registrar Brian Spicer said that combined mail, absentee and in-person turnout has almost double what it was four years ago. Since mail-in votes for Fairfax have until next Monday to arrive at election HQ, the election there won’t be certified until next Tuesday.

Spicer also said they hope to have all the in-person votes (early voting and otherwide) counted by 11 p.m. election night.

Future voter Emerson, 22 months, and Mom Dionyah Cottrell of Fairfax, Virginia, voting in person on Tuesday. (WTOP/Kristi King)

King spoke to many local voters, including Dionyah Cottrell who shared a little informational video about same day registration and provisional ballots for Virginia voters.

Cottrell later texted King with more details on why this election is important to her family.

“I’m voting until I see day where the people in office physically and morally represent people of color, people who are marginalized, people who have been poor and on welfare, people who come from families who didn’t have straps to pull up yet still made a way, people who are misgendered, people who support people with mental illness,” she said.

“I’m a stay at home mom, teacher by trade, and for two years I’ve watched my husband pull all of his weight trying to support our family of four. It has been exhausting for him and I pray that the democratic leader in our area is for making the lives of working class citizens like my husband and myself more livable.”

As voters made their way to the polls, so did some of the politicians seeking their favor.

In Virginia’s Prince William County, Yesli Vega, GOP hopeful for the 7th District congressional seat, was at Woodbridge Middle School early Tuesday morning talking to voters in the parking lot.

Yesli Vega
Yesli Vega talking to a supporter at Woodbridge Middle School. (WTOP/Luke Lukert)

Also out early at WMS was the 7th District’s incumbent congresswoman Abigail Spanberger, who was defending her seat. She was joined by U.S. Senator Tim Kaine.

Virginia 7th District’s incumbent congresswoman Abigail Spanberger, who is running for re-election, supported by U.S. Senator Tim Kaine. (WTOP/Luke Lukert)

WTOP’s Luke Lukert spent the day in Prince William County talking to voters.

Midterm voters in Prince WIlliam County, VA

In the District, Bowser posted election day photos from Shepherd Elementary School in Northwest on her personal Facebook account.

Also in D.C., Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen was out at Payne Elementary School in Southeast with ANC candidate Shane Seger.

State boards of elections in Virginia and Maryland both cited malfunctions with electronic poll books that have been causing delays in certain jurisdictions.

Poll books are computers, usually laptops, where voters go to check in and verify their registration status before voting. By law, every jurisdiction is required to have an updated paper version of the poll book on hand, just in case of technical errors. It is not the actual voting machine.

In Virginia, Commissioner of Elections Susan Beals told reporters that issues with electronic poll books have caused delays in Nottoway, Chesterfield and Suffolk counties, as well as the City of Richmond.

Beals said that in areas where issues have occurred, “no one has been turned away. (The lines) might just be moving a little bit slower than normal.”

This election season, Virginia had ongoing issues with registrations collected at the DMV being unaccounted for and transferred late to their designated counties.

At a news conference in Maryland, BOE Deputy Administrator Nikki Charlson told journalists that issues with polling books have caused late openings and delays in certain areas.

At Bowie State University in Prince George’s County, voting was paused about an hour on Tuesday morning as poll workers switched from electronic poll books to their paper contingency.

In both Virginia and Maryland, officials urge anyone who has issues with their registration to fill out a provisional ballot.

Charlson was also asked to describe what is and isn’t allowed for people and groups designating themselves as “poll watchers.”

“Every voting location and ballot box has a ‘no electioneering zone’ — that’s the zone where nobody but voters who are going in to vote, or coming out to vote can be,” said Charlson.

“Outside the ‘no electioneering zone’ the rules are different,” Charlson said. “So, we ask voters, if they feel intimidated or in any way uncomfortable, that they can call their local election office, they can call their state board of elections, there are some hotlines that are available with the U.S. Attorneys Office.”

No official numbers have been released on turnout, but Fairfax County in Virginia says a record number of mail-in ballots has contributed to an estimated total turnout of 38%, so far.


What you need to know

Thousands of voters in the area have already cast ballots through the mail or via drop boxes. If you already have a mail-in ballot filled out but you haven’t dropped it off, you can use the boxes at virtually all polling places. If you haven’t gotten your ballot yet, you’ll have to wait in line for a ballot and use a polling machine.

If you haven’t registered to vote yet, there’s same-day voter registration in Maryland. You can register to vote on Election Day by bringing a document showing proof of residency with you to vote. It’s the same deal in D.C.

Virginia, for the first time this year, has same-day voter registration, but you’ll need to use a provisional ballot.

“The provisional ballot does not go into the voting machine at that time, and it won’t be processed until after the election,” Virginia Elections Commissioner Susan Beals told WTOP’s Nick Iannelli.

Below are some of the storyline races that will be decided on Tuesday (although the vote-counting might last well beyond). You can find more details on where and how to vote, as well as the full list of candidates and questions, in WTOP’s voter guides.


Voter Guides:


DC

Voters in the District are picking a mayor, members of the D.C. Council and a new attorney general on Election Day.

Mayor Muriel Bowser is facing challenges from Republican Stacia Hall, independent Rodney Grant and Libertarian Dennis Sobin. A victory for Bowser would make her D.C.’s first mayor since Marion Barry to be elected to three terms. The candidates spoke with WTOP about the issues.

The biggest question mark in the D.C. Council races hovers over the race for at-large seats, where three current council members are among the eight candidates running for two seats.

Incumbents Anita Bonds, a Democrat, and independent Elissa Silverman are running to retain their seats, while Kenyan McDuffie, currently the Democratic member from Ward 5, is running as an independent. McDuffie gave up his Ward 5 seat to run for attorney general, but was ruled unqualified for the ballot during the Democratic primary campaign.

Also on the ballot are independents Karim Marshall, Fred Hill and Graham McLaughlin, as well as Republican Giuseppe Niosi and David Schwartzman of the D.C. Statehood Green Party.

In Ward 3, Democrat Matthew Frumin, Republican David Krucoff and Libertarian Adrian Salsgiver are running to succeed Mary Cheh, who ended her campaign for a fifth term during the primary, citing a “reevaluation” of her life after holding the seat for 16 years.

The Ward 3 candidates spoke with WTOP on the issues.

In Ward 5, Democrat Zachary Parker and Republican Clarence Lee are running to succeed Kenyan McDuffie.

Eleanor Holmes Norton, who has been D.C.’s nonvoting delegate in the U.S. House since 1991, is running for reelection against Natale Stracuzzi, of the D.C. Statehood Green Party; Libertarian Bruce Majors and Republican Nelson Rimensnyder.

D.C. voters will also decide the fate of Initiative 82, which would raise the minimum wage for tipped workers such as restaurant servers and bartenders until it’s at the regular minimum wage in 2027. Voters passed a similar initiative in 2018, but the D.C. Council overturned it.

WTOP spoke with the creator of the initiative and a restaurateur who opposes it.



Maryland

A proverbial boatload of elections will be decided in Maryland on Tuesday, and some could go on quite a while after that. Voters are deciding all 188 seats in the legislature, along with races for all three statewide offices, all eight U.S. House seats and plenty of local and county races.

While the State Board of Elections won a court case giving county boards permission to tabulate mail-in ballots before Election Day, not every county is doing so.

Eleven of 24 jurisdictions, including most of those in the D.C. area, have already tabulated at least some ballots ahead of time, but mail-in ballots returned later in the process or on Election Day, won’t be counted until after, so it could play a role in some close races.

Additionally, in an effort to monitor adherence to federal voting rights laws, the Department of Justice is sending officials to polling sites in Prince George’s County, and Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park city in Virginia.

All three statewide offices will be occupied by first-timers:

  • The governor’s race is between Democratic political newcomer Wes Moore, who is looking to become the state’s first Black governor, and Republican Dan Cox, a freshman Republican delegate from Frederick County. Republican Gov. Larry Hogan is barred by term limits from running again. WTOP spoke with the candidates on the issues.
  • Rep. Anthony Brown, a former lieutenant governor, and Republican Michael Peroutka, a former Anne Arundel County Council member, are running to succeed Attorney General Brian Frosh, who is stepping down after two terms.
  • And the contest for comptroller, who oversees tax collection in the state, comes down to Democrat Brooke Lierman, a civil and disability attorney and a two-term state delegate, and Republican Harford County Executive Barry Glassman, both running to succeed Peter Franchot, who is stepping down after 15 years.

For some supporters of Moore, they know the importance and opportunity they have to make history by electing the state’s first Black governor.

“The previous governor now, he did a great job, I just think it’s time for a new face,” said one supporter.

The most competitive U.S. House race in Maryland comes in the 6th District, which includes Frederick County and a portion of Montgomery County, where Rep. David Trone, an incumbent Democrat, faces Republican Del. Neil Parrott. Trone beat Parrott by 20 percentage points in 2020, but the map of the district has been redrawn, making it more competitive for Republicans.

The two candidates spoke with WTOP about the issues.

WTOP’s John Domen is out talking to voters at polling stations in Maryland.

For many Marylanders, the question of the economy is an important topic this election season.

“I want to hear that [these candidates are] doing something that they can put their hat on … that they can say that at the end of the day, they can move forward [and] were sincere in the approach that they took,” said Tammy Perry, a Maryland resident at the polling station in Upper Marlboro. “And it wasn’t for them, it wasn’t for the politics or basically getting everybody’s vote. It was to make a difference.”

Bruce Williams, another Maryland resident who came to vote this morning with economic issues on his mind, said, “The biggest thing that I’m listening for and looking for when I listen to the candidates is a solid plan to move forward, that the plan is achievable [and] is just not a conversation to say this ‘sounds good, looks good’ but it actually can be achieved. A good solid plan.”

Marylanders are also voting on ballot questions, including one that would legalize marijuana for personal use.

Anne Arundel, Frederick, Howard and Montgomery counties will pick county executives, and in Montgomery County, the entire county council — which has expanded by two seats — is on the ballot.

“[I’m looking for candidates who] want to be fair when it comes to people … they want to think about women’s rights, women’s equality. They want to do something when it comes to education, when it comes to opioids out here,” said Sarah Branch of Upper Marlboro. “Things like that matter to me.”

For voters who may need to travel to their nearest polling station, MARC will operate full service on all three lines on Election Day, including Train 871. There will also be a “Meet the MARC” shuttle bus at Point of Rocks to meet Train 871, operating on its usual route to Mt. Zion Park and Ride, Monocacy and Frederick.

Virginia

The elections for the U.S. House in Virginia include a couple of the most closely watched contests in the country.

In the 2nd District, Rep. Elaine Luria, the Democratic incumbent, is in what appears to be a dead heat with Republican challenger Jen Kiggans, a state senator. Luria, a member of the Jan. 6 committee, is seeking her third term in a district that has been redrawn to make it slightly less favorable to Democrats.

Other high-profile races in the D.C. area include the 7th District race between Rep. Abigail Spanberger, a Democrat seeking her third term, and Republican challenger Yesli Vega, a Prince William County supervisor.

WTOP spoke with Spanberger; Vega’s campaign didn’t respond to multiple requests for an interview.

WTOP’s Luke Lukert is at Woodbridge Middle School talking to voters in Prince William County.

“The women’s right to choose is really important. With our two candidates, there’s one who clearly agrees and aligns with what I think,” said voter Alicia Henderson.

While abortion rights are a top priority among voters, many agree that they want whichever winning candidate to put partisanship aside and work across the aisle when in Congress.

One voter voiced his disappointment in voter turnout for early voting this morning in Prince William County.

“It’s just not enough people showing up. And I don’t attribute that to anything because it’s been that way through our history,” said voter Josh Greenburg.

In Fairfax County, only 27% of registered voters showed out for early voting before 11 a.m. today, according to the Fairfax County Board of Elections.

Observers have said these races could go a long way in determining how the House will balance out after the election is over.

Check back here at wtop.com for more Election Day news.

WTOP’s Nick Iannelli, Mitchell Miller, Jack Moore and Alejandro Alvarez contributed to this report.

Joshua Barlow

Joshua Barlow is a writer, composer, and producer who has worked for CGTN, Atlantic Public Media, and National Public Radio. He lives in Northeast Washington, D.C., where he pays attention to developments in his neighborhood, economic issues, and social justice.

Ciara Wells

Ciara Wells is a freelance digital writer/editor at WTOP. She is a recent graduate of American University where she studied journalism and Spanish. Before joining WTOP, she was the opinion team editor at a student publication and a content specialist at an HBCU in Detroit.

Rick Massimo

Rick Massimo came to WTOP, and to Washington, in 2013 after having lived in Providence, R.I., since he was a child. He's the author of "A Walking Tour of the Georgetown Set" and "I Got a Song: A History of the Newport Folk Festival."

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