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Election Official Talks Early Voting Hitches with City Council

The College Park Community Center saw long waits and overflow parking during the 2012 cycle.

The College Park City Council heard from a top county election official at Tuesday's worksession, several months after unexpectedly high turnout inundated the city's early voting center.

Prince George's County Election Administrator Alisha Alexander told council members that while participation in presidential elections is usually high, she didn't anticipate the levels of early voting seen in the 2012 cycle.

Early voter turnout tripled from the 2010, she said, leading to waits of up to 2 1/2 hours at the College Park Community Center and a surge of parking in surrounding residential areas.

Council Member Monroe Dennis said he knew of the problems the center experienced because he helped man the phones one day to field early voting calls.

“The community center phones rang off the hook,” he said.

He said most people called to ask about the waiting times or whether senior citizens and disabled individuals were able to skip the lines.

The community center site was one of five sites chosen in Prince George's County to serve as an early voting center. Alexander said the location had worked well during the 2010 gubernatorial election.

But because of the parking issues and wait times experienced last year, she said it might not be ideal to use that site again during a presidential election.

Josh Ratner, student government liaison member, said Alexander should consider working with the university even though she ran into problems trying to coordinate with them previously.

"Don't give up on the university," Ratner said. "The student government wants to encourage early voting."

Council Member Marcus Afzali urged Alexander to continue to use College Park as an early voting site because he believed it benefited the city.

Gary McCone January 19, 2013 at 01:20 PM
Not mentioned in this article but probably brought up during the worksession was that the parking problems were exacerbated by the fact that College Park Day was being held at the Community Center that same day.

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