Elections
Voting line. Image - AP. Voting line. Image - AP.  

Key Virginia county, short on voting machines, could keep polls open past midnight

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David Martosko
Executive Editor

Prince William County, a Virginia bellwether that helped swing the Old Dominion to President Barack Obama in 2008, could be leaving its polls open until well past midnight Tuesday.

WTOP radio tweeted the news about 19 minutes before the 7:00 p.m. poll closing time.

Prince William, the radio station said, didn’t have enough voting machines to accommodate the population of 400,000 that call the Washington, D.C. exurb home.

WTOP reported that in the county, “higher turnout than expected meant there was one voting machine for every 750 voters, which is in compliance with Virginia state code.”

“This is a bigger turnout that we expected … we’re doing the best we can,” Prince William County voter registrar Betty Weimer told the station.

If the presidential contest in Virginia extends into the early morning, the presidency itself could hang in the balance. After polls officially closed at 7:00 p.m., Fox News Channel reported that the race was too close to assign either Obama or Republican nominee Mitt Romney a slim lead.

President George W. Bush collected 53 percent of the county’s vote in 2004, but Obama far exceeded that margin with a 58 percent showing in 2008.

Campaigns & Elections magazine named Prince William County among the “10 counties Romney needs to win” in order to take the presidency for the Republican Party.

A photo on WTOP’s website showed a long line of voters at Prince William County’s Hylton High School. Voters in other parts of Northern Virginia reported 2- to 3-hour wait times in the voting lines.

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