Peninsula voters headed to the polls on Tuesday. See what voters and poll workers said about Election Day 2016.
At the Aberdeen precinct in Hampton, there was a steady turnout all day long, with 1,228 votes for Clinton, 216 for Trump, and heavy votes for Bobby Scott and a no on the labor union amendment.
Still, the turnout was not as high as the turnout in 2008 and 2012, said Cindy Ayers, the precinct chief.
"It was a constant full house (last time), and we did not have that tonight," she said. Sometimes on Tuesday, she said, "it felt no different than a primary."
- Peter Dujardin
Antonio Minichiello showed up to vote Tuesday afternoon at Jamestown High School precinct.
Minichiello, 26, of James City County was looking forward to it, since it was the first time he ever cast a vote. But when he got to the front of the line and handed over his ID, he said, was then told that he had already voted at 6:59 a.m., which he said wasn’t the case.
“I said that was impossible because I was in Fredericksburg,” at his girlfriend’s house at that time, he said. “The guy was like confused.”
Minichiello was given a provisional ballot, he said, and was told to attend a meeting on Wednesday if he wanted his vote to be counted.
“I never voted before, and now I can’t even cast a vote because somebody already has done it for me,” he said. “It’s kind of discouraging for voters when they are going to put the direction of the country in a good way, and this happens.”
Michiello said he was planning to vote for Donald Trump, with candidate’s vow to protect the Second Amendment being the issue he found most important.
Minichiello said his brother and father voted at the same precinct Tuesday morning, so it’s possible someone crossed his name out instead of theirs. But he fears it was something worse. “I think someone tried to take my vote away, because we have two names that aren’t even close whatsoever.”
Minichiello said he would fight for his vote to be counted no matter which presidential candidate wins.
Another voter, Amy Colafrancesco, 47, of James City County, had a similar problem at the Jamestown High School precinct.
She was told Tuesday morning that she had voted at 7 a.m. But that couldn’t be, she said, was that it was only 6:40 when they told her that. “I said that’s 20 minutes in the future,” she said.
Colafrencesco, who said she was voting for Trump, was then given a provisional ballot. Her hunch, she said, is that it was an administrative error, and that a volunteer might have made a mistake.
Dianna Moorman, James City County’s director of elections, said that she wasn’t told of the issue with Minicheillo’s ballot, but said the issue with Colafrencesco’s ballot was caused by a volunteer inadvertently entered Colafrancesco’s name as voting instead of a relative’s. The time stamped on the machines were off, she said, because the computers were set before the recent time change.
Moorman said she would serve as a voter advocate Tuesday to ensure everyone’s votes are counted.
Chad Green, a York County board of supervisors’ member who is on the Trump “emergency response team,” said the campaign is looking into the matter.
- Peter Dujardin
The last voter out of Palmer Elementary in Newport News was Simon Pegram.
He leaned on a walker, and had an oxygen tank connected to his nose.
"I'm a Democrat," he said.
And a Vietnam veteran who lost a lung to Agent Orange, he said. Asked his thoughts on Donald Trump, Pegram pointed to a potted plant fading in the November cool.
"I think more of that dirt than I think of him," he said.
- Travis Fain
One late voter didn't make it in time to vote at Epes Elementary School in Newport News. She didn't want to be named but she wished the polls were open until 8 p.m. because she worked a 12-hour shift as a certified nursing assistant. The door was closed when she tried to vote at 7:35 p.m. and she was turned away.
- Tara Bozick
Only a handful of people came in to vote at James River Elementary School in James City County in the 15 minutes before polls closed at 7 p.m.
The last two voters were Samantha Lienemann, 20, and her 18-year-old brother Jacob Lienemann. They had mixed feelings about their first presidential election.
“It was probably the worst election ever to have to vote for your first time,” Samantha Lienemann said as Jacob laughed in agreement.
Associate precinct chief Mark Osborne said turnout was strong the first few hours this morning, with 150 or so people lined up to vote at 6 a.m. From there, the day saw “steady” turnout, with 1,280 out of a possible 2,103 ballots cast.
- Jane Hammond
In all 2,850 out of about 4,100 registered voters turned out at Tabb High School, according to Precinct Chief Hebb Greenwell.
He said lines were pretty long during the day, but they tapered off as it grew closer to closing time. A few late voters arrived in the final 15 minutes.
Kathy Warren and her kids, Ryan and Morgan Acree, voted for Hillary Clinton and said they were excited to vote for a woman, a phenomena they said was 100 years in the making. Warren said she first voted in 1972 and hasn't missed an election since.
The last voter at Tabb was Linda Rowe, who came to the polls for the third time that day. She came down with an illness and felt too sick to wait in the long lines at Tabb. Rowe was meant to volunteer for the Republican campaign, but she had to cancel. She wasn't sure if she'd be able to muster the strength to vote, but made it in to the school just before a volunteer announced the precinct was closed.
Greenwell smiled after Rowe and the volunteers from the campaign left the Tabb campus. "I'm glad it's over," he said. Greenwell still has a long night ahead of him, but he said he's looking forward to the end of the campaigns and Day he can turn on the TV and not see Trump or Clinton.
- Josh Reyes
Close to 70 percent of registered voters in Isle of Wight's Bartlett precinct voted Tuesday, according to Polling Chief Ellen Ayers.
The day went smoothly, with a steady line of voters, she said. About 80 voters were lined up to vote when they polls opened at 6 a.m., and 2,165 had voted at the location by 6:30 p.m.
Donald Trump supporters and Isle of Wight Republican Committee members Mike Coleman and Lori Carlson stood outside after 6 p.m., handing out informational pamphlets on Marty Williams, candidate for 3rd Congressional District.
"I've been out since 5:30 in the morning, trying to get information around to the poll workers who need it," Coleman said Tuesday night.
Coleman is excited about the election's outcome and feels good about the likelihood of a Trump victory, he said.
Carlson also supports Trump, but said she believes "God is in control no matter who is in the White House."
Too many voters are fixated on Clinton's gender, when there are more important things, she said.
"It's like the only thing that matters about this election is who has a vagina - there's much more important issues than that," Carlson said.
Couple Debbie and Greg O'Berry voted for Trump because they share his views on gun laws and immigration, they said.
Kelcie Garnett, who was able to vote for the first time because she's now old enough, supported Clinton this election, partly because she supports Obamacare, she said.
Teresa Cousins also said she voted Clinton, because she's a Democrat.
- Hillary Smith
Staff took down the polling place signs outside of Courthouse Way Community Center in the Denbigh area of Newport News. No one was left in line as of 7:25 p.m. and the door was closed.
- Tara Bozick
The scene was completely quiet outside Richneck Elementary School minutes after the polls closed.
Precinct captain Carla Platteborze said the last two voters got in around 6:59 p.m. A total 2,606 of about 4,000 registered voters cast ballots here today, she said.
"We had zero issues today - that's just hitting me," she said, turning to a fellow poll worker.
This northern precinct doesn't typically have issues, but since frustrations were "running high" this election, she said there was a chance for something to go wrong. Nothing did.
"It was amazing."
- Reema Amin
Gloucester Registrar Bobbi Morgan said voting went smoothly Tuesday at each of the county’s 12 precincts.
As of 6 p.m., 19,234 of the county’s 26,817 active voters had cast their ballot – a total of 72 percent of Gloucester’s voters.
Twelve voters in the county did cast provisional ballots, which Morgan said does not typically happen in Gloucester. Six of the provisional were cast by voters who had requested absentee ballots, while four were because of errors in the poll books and two did not have a photo ID.
- Frances Hubbard
At 43, Christopher Brunson uses a lot of words to describe himself. Convicted felon. More recently, business owner. And now, for the first time in his life, American voter.
Brunson has spent 14 years, more than a quarter of his life, in prison after convictions for an array of gun, drug and violent crimes.
But Tuesday, five years after he walked out of prison, he was able to cast his first ballot.
"I feel like a citizen," he said after submitting a provisional ballot at Aberdeen Elementary School.
Brunson was one of the more than 200,000 felons in Virginia who had their rights restored by Terry McAuliffe earlier this year, only to have that order rescinded by the state Supreme Court after a Republican lawsuit.
However, about two months ago, Brunson got a letter with a big gold seal that said his rights has been reinstated again as McAuliffe signed new restoration orders for thousands of felons.
So Brunson was left in disbelief when he was first told he wouldn't be able to vote Tuesday. Brunson said he thought someone "was pulling the wool" over his eyes.
"You always hear this stuff about the machines not working or people not wanting us to vote," Brunson said. Not voting today was not an option for him.
"I had to come," he said. "I was about to turn around and go home and get that letter with the gold seal."
Poll workers quickly jumped in to help sort out the issue - Brunson was in the system with his rights restored, but his address didn't match. Officials helped him fill out a change of address form and submit a provisional ballot.
Aberdeen's Chief Election Officer, Lucinda Ayers gave him two "I Voted" stickers - one to wear proudly and one as a keepsake of his first time casting a ballot.
- Ryan Murphy
Gloucester voter Angie Nicosia asked Republican Committee Vice-Chairman Mike Hedrick to take a photo with her baby boy outside the Courthouse precinct Tuesday afternoon.
Nicosia said the photo of her 7-week-old son with Hedrick’s Trump-Pence shirt was for her father-in-law.
“That was without any question the most unique request of the day,” Hedrick said.
Hedrick set up signs and a table outside the precinct on Main Street early Tuesday morning and had spent the most of the day traveling to the polls throughout the county answering questions and talking with voters.
He returned to the Courthouse precinct to close out the evening, having seen a heavy turnout countywide, he said.
“That’s what we need in this country, more people voting,” said Jonathan Sawyer, who volunteered with the committee for the first time at the polls this election.
He thought the strong difference in the two campaigns brought out more voters.
Sawyer said he has historically been an Independent voter but this election he agreed very strongly with Republican candidate Donald Trump.
- Frances Hubbard
Candice Byrd, the chief election official at the Hampton Library precinct, said she was on the verge of needing to request another batch of ballots after a deluge of voters at the small precinct.
It started early - very early, Byrd said.
"When I showed up here at 4:45 (a.m.) there were already people in line," she said.
As of 4 p.m. the precinct had seen 667 voters - nearly 45 percent of the total registered with three hours of voting still to go.
Byrd, a former history teacher, said she'd seen a particularly high number of first-time voters. Many were students seeking extra credit for civics or government courses.
"I would never have given extra credit," Byrd said. "It's your responsibility."
- Ryan Murphy
Just like any other rank and file Democratic volunteer, Molly Ward showed up where she was told when she was told organizers needed her.
Ward - the former mayor of Hampton and the current Secretary of Natural Resources under Democratic governor Terry McAuliffe - set up a table outside of Hampton Public Libraries for the 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. shift handing out Democratic literature with her son, 22-year-old Edwin Ward, and Hampton University senior Nick Anthony.
"I took the day off," Ward said. "Like everybody else I've just been watching Twitter, watching the news. ... It's kind of hard to just sit in the office today."
- Ryan Murphy
York High School saw a line of voters spilling out from the gymnasium into the parking lot Tuesday afternoon. As of 2:15, 1,352 out of a possible 2,983 voters had cast their ballots there, said precinct chief Ernie Mann.
He said turnout had been steady all morning, and said that the first hour saw the same number of people come through as a non-presidential election. No problems had been reported, he said.
Outside, Stacy Swords, decked out in a Gary Johnson shirt and sign, campaigned for the Libertarian candidate.
“It’s been very open-minded here at this polling place,” she said. “We have a lot of people who have already made up their mind before they came in, but we’ve got a couple other people who aren’t very happy with either party, so it’s a good thing that the Gary Johnson crew was here.”
Others passed out Democratic and Republican sample ballots for those who were interested. Sonya Olechnowski took samplings from both sides as she waited to vote with her 12-year-old son Truman. She said she’d never seen a line like the one Tuesday.
“I’m impressed,” Sonya Olechnowski said. “This is a record year, so it’s really cool to be here and see it.”
She said she was ready for the election to be over, because “every time I surf the net, I see his face and her face. I’m over it.” She did say she was impressed by how knowledgeable her son, who always comes along when she votes, was on the presidential candidates.
“I was born here. I care where my country’s going to go in the future,” Truman Olechnowski said. “I don’t want it to just stay where it’s at while the rest of the world’s just going forward.”
- Jane Hammond
In James City County’s Stonehouse district, Norge Elementary School has the largest number of registered voters in the county with more than 4,900 registrants.
Those voters came in droves.
Chief elections officer Diane Taylor described the turnout as “the biggest we’ve ever had.” At 1 p.m., just over 2100 voters had already come through the school’s doors – nearly 43% of total registrants. The line spilled into the school hallway, and cars packed the parking lot.
Maybe it was the sheer volume of voters, but there seemed a sense of urgency.
“They’ve got their mind made up, and they’re coming in with a purpose,” said Tia Stanley, who stood near the school’s entrance volunteering with the James City County Republican Committee. “I feel like people all want something different.”
Tammy Dekie’s biggest concern was women’s rights.
“That’s my biggest pet peeve. I just think women should be treated fair,” said Dekie, 49. “That made me say, you know what, I got to vote today. Because I have my (five-year-old) granddaughter. I need her to know that she’s important, and that she has a right – a voice.”
Dekie, who voted for Clinton, was also fed up with racial issues that have arisen in this presidential campaign.
“I think it has really damaged the image of America in the eyes of other people, in the other world countries,” she said. “We look really sad at this point. So I think we need a change right now.”
- Heather Bridges
About two dozen Christopher Newport University students ran into problems at the Hidenwood Retirement Community polling place today because their names weren't showing up in the registrar's system - even if they brought voter registration cards or registration receipts.
The problem appeared to stem from those who registered with a third party on CNU's campus this fall, according to precinct chief Lynne Forrester.
Forrester said that several students had receipts confirming their registration or had voter cards. But she was told by the Registrar's office to turn them away since their names were not showing up in the city's system.
Volunteers representing both parties called their lawyers about the issue, said Jordan Gray, a CNU student and a volunteer for Donald Trump's campaign who was set up outside Hidenwood. He had numbers for 13 students who had problems.
Around 2 p.m., after the volunteers called lawyers, Newport News Registrar Vicki Lewis called Forrester and told her to allow those students provisional ballots, Forrester said. It is determined by an electoral board on whether to count those votes. Receipts from the registration or a voter card are attached to the ballot if the student has them. About a dozen students came in before 4 p.m. to cast provisional ballots.
Sarah Miller, a senior at CNU, said she registered to vote on campus in late September using a form she got from a Democratic Party volunteer. Volunteers from the party were on campus between September and October trying to get people to register, she said.
Most of the students who had issues reported registering on campus with a third party, like Miller did, Forrester said.
Miller was turned away when her name didn't show up in the system, she said. She later got a call from Gray telling her that she could cast a provisional ballot.
Freshman Trevor Pruitt did not register on campus, but had registered a couple months ago changing his address to his CNU one. He was turned away around 1 p.m. but also received a call from Gray and came back.
Outside Bryan Elementary School in Hampton, Letty Vonderhaar said she wasn't only voting for the president, "I voted for the vice-president, too."
Vonderhaar also said presidential candidates' stance on abortion was a factor for her. "Hillary's stance on abortion, that's wrong," she said.
As of about noon, 1,280 people had voted of the 3,500 registered voters at the Hampton precinct, according to precinct captain Lee Page.
Turnout was good and there had been no problems.
Voter Norma Parrish said that the constitutional amendments, as well as the presidential race, brought her to the polls.
Tom Hilling took a break from working on his deck to come vote. He said he "just wonders where this world is going" and hopes that the nation and world will be more unified.
Tina Butler stopped by on her lunch break to vote. She said she votes in every election. "I want to be an example to my kids." She said she expected her children were out voting Tuesday and said that she had one daughter who travels and had to drive three hours home to vote in this election.
- Shana Gray
When the polls opened at Aberdeen Elementary School at 6 a.m. Tuesday morning, Jeff Rowe and his wife, Michelle, were already set up and waiting.
Tapped by the AFL-CIO because of its demographics and long history of residents with shipyard jobs, this precinct in one the city’s most prominent African-American neighborhoods was one of about 15 places where members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers put up posters expressing their opposition to a ballot measure calling for a “right-to-work” amendment to the state constitution.
“For us it’s non-partisan. It’s not a right-to-work issue,” said Rowe, who manned a table set up outside the school’s entrance.
“Virginia was one of the first states to pass a right-to-work law. It’s been part of the Virginia Code since 1947 – and it doesn’t need to be duplicated in the state constitution.
“The constitution is all about setting up the framework of the state government – not regulating jobs in the private sector.”
That argument found the most listeners during the first hours of voting, when the line of people waiting to cast their ballots wound all the around the building.
“We did close to 300 before 9 o’clock or so,” Chief Election Officer Cindy Ayers said.
“But since then it’s been slower than the first and second Obama elections. We expected more.”
Still, the voting machines had tallied the ballots of nearly 1,000 of the precinct’s 2,320 registered voters by 1 p.m., and many more were expected to show up after about 3:30 p.m.
Dozens of those came from the elderly and the incapacitated, who were assisted by two election officers specially detailed to help them vote at the curb, then bring their sealed ballots inside to be counted.
“We have a lot of older people here — and we want to help them vote,” Ayers said.
“So we’ve done a lot of outside voting.”
- Mark St. John Erickson
Democratic campaign volunteers at Knights of Columbus in Newport News were excited to see more young people turning out than usual. The volunteers agreed that in their roughly 30 years of volunteering at elections, 2008 was the year they saw the most young voters. Mimi Zoby, a volunteer, said this turnout reminded her of 2008.
Elizabeth Frost, a CNU student and first-time voter, said she was happy to be participating in the political process. Frost said she voted for Hillary Clinton because she was the candidate she most identified and aligned with. Frost said she voted for Bernie Sanders in the primary election, but had no problem supporting Clinton once she won the nomination.
Levana Stuffel, another first-time voter, came to the polls with her mother. Stuffel said she was excited to vote in the first presidential election she was eligible for. “It’s cool. I’m adulting,” she said with a laugh.
Precinct Chief Karen DiMarino said about 1,200 of 2,934 registered voters had cast their ballot by 2 p.m. She said things at the precinct had been running smoothly and she was pleased with the turnout.
- Josh Reyes
At Newport News’ Deer Park Elementary precinct around 1 p.m., lines were short, but excitement was high for Rosalind Wright, 56.
The Newport News resident cast her first vote in any election in her life.
Despite a chronic illness that Wright said affected her ability to vote in past elections, she was excited to vote in this election.
“Well, I was always one of those ones, I’m not going to vote for the lesser of two evils,” Wright said. “… So when this came along, I actually wanted – I did volunteer for Hillary (Clinton)’s campaign, but I had been too sick to actually go and do anything. So I made a point, no matter what, no matter how bad I felt today, I was going to be voting for Hillary.”
Wright said she has observed the women’s rights movements throughout her life, and she watched her mother’s challenges in the working world in the 1950s. She said she was glad to cast a vote for a female candidate for president.
“It always felt like it should’ve happened a long time ago for the first woman president, but that’s not the only reason why I’m voting for Hillary. I’m voting for Hillary because she’s amazing. She’s always done things for other people, and I don’t care how many times they try to put Bill’s stuff on her; she’s not Bill. She’s a woman. I’m not none of my husbands neither,” Wright said with a laugh.
Wright said that as the mother of mixed-race children and a son with autism, she made the choice to vote for a candidate other than Donald Trump on behalf of her children.
“I see him as a disaster, she said. “I want to protect my family (from that). … Any progress we’ve made, I don’t want it taken away from them. They deserve everything.”
As she departed Deer Park Elementary Tuesday, Wright said now that she’s voted once, she may return to the polls the next time an election rolls around.
“I may just make a habit of it,” she said with a smile.
- Mary Kate Brogan
At the Phoebus library, Precinct Chief Thelma Works said the day has been running smoothly with no issues. Of more than 800 voters, by 12:30 p.m. about 350 had voted.
Works said she was seeing higher than normal turnout, and "a lot of first-time voters, too."
She said when they opened, about 60 voters were already waiting, at the precinct which includes four booths. She said it had been steady since then.
Outside, Robert Delimon said that the economy was an important issue for him. "Jobs, jobs, jobs. Or lack thereof at this point."
Shaun Bartron also cited jobs as an important issue. "Jobs, jobs and taxes," were priority issues for him.
One voter reiterated the importance of voting to him. He said he'd just earned back his right to be able to vote, and it was "very important in this election, because every vote counts."
- Shana Gray
Voters who turned out early to vote at Mathews County’s Piankatank precinct where met with a line to cast their ballot, but things slowed a bit after lunch.
Volunteer Jean Owens said 80 people were waiting in line when the polls open at Mathews High School at 6 a.m. Tuesday morning.
“This is a good thing. This is why we do this,” she said guiding voters at check in. Owens said it was the most voters she could remember seeing turn out for an election in a while.
“It means people are less complacent this time.”
As of 1:45 p.m. Tuesday, Mathews Registrar Carla Faulkner said 43.3 percent of the county’s active 6,636 voters had cast a ballot – for a total of 2,876 votes. The county’s three precincts were running smoothly with no issues reported, she said.
Judy Willis, a volunteer outside the Piankatank precinct for the Mathews Republican Committee, said her and her husband waited in line for about 20 minutes around 10 a.m. One man at that time decided to return later when the line was a little shorter.
This election, Willis said, had been stressful for some voters because so much of the talk was focused on personal things and not the issues.
“People became very passionate about their beliefs even among family and friends,” Willis said.
Gwynn’s Island resident Deborah Beverley said her vote was easy.
“This decision was made a long time ago,” she said exiting the poll. “A right-minded person should have already made up their mind before coming out to vote today.”
- Frances Hubbard
Voting was heavy at Newport News' huge Kiln Creek Elementary School precinct. At one point shortly before lunch, a line 80 people long snaked through the school's lobby, but a team of five election workers checking IDs and poll book registrations moved people through quickly.
"I've never seen anything like this," said Fernanda Kelley, who was working the poll for Republican House of Delegates candidate Heather Cordasco.
But voters said they moved through quickly.
"It didn't take that long," said Richard Patton, a retired Army chief warrant officer who has voted at Kiln Creek for 20 years.
Like many here, he said his choice wasn't difficult.
"A man who was too good to serve his country isn't good enough to be my president," the Vietnam veteran said, noting that he was two years older than Trump.
Kay Gentry, helped to the poll by her son Gordon, was equally firm.
"I know exactly who I've voting for, she said. "I'm for Trump ... I can't stand Hillary Clinton."
He said said she made up her minds months earlier, and reminded him regularly of his promise to take her to the polls today. As of noon, about 1,800 people voted at Kiln Creek.
At the Old Courthouse Way Community Center in northern Newport News, Chimere Hilaire, who was watching the polls for the nonprofit Voters Protection group, said voting went smoothly with no signs of intimidation.
At Old Courthouse way, Oscar Kemp said his decision was clear. "It was obvious," he said. "It's the right thing. I voted for the first black president,... now it's time for the first woman."
Roslyn Green was also sure. "I prayed about it, and now I have a candidate, I'm voting for" she said. "There is no perfect candidate ... but whoever it is, I will respect my leader."
- Dave Ress
Iris Tyler, who said she's a 38-year-old convicted felon, voted for the first time Tuesday. She cast her ballot at Huntington Middle School in the Washington precinct.
"I hope I got to make history and, you know, I hope that the next president will be because I got the chance to vote."
Tyler said she was released from prison in 2007 for being an accessory to a felony and applied to have her rights restored last year.
She said voting was an emotional experience for her and that she almost cried at the poll. Her choices? Hillary Clinton and U.S. Rep. Robert C. "Bobby" Scott.
- Reema Amin
Don't let the adult-sized Bernie Sanders onesie fool you, Travis Wright said he's voting for Jill Stein.
The 27-year-old, who was in line at Lee Hall around lunch time, said this will be his first time voting. He supported Sanders' in the Democratic primary (obviously) and moved to Stein and the Green Party after Hillary Clinton became the Democratic Party's nominee.
"I just think that there needs to be some other options," Wright said.
Wright had about a 30 minute wait at Lee Hall Tuesday, which has seen strong turnout today, but not the huge uptick it saw in 2008.
The precinct leans left - it went more than 70 percent for Barack Obama in 2012.
- Travis Fain
William Brown sat outside of Booker Elementary School in Hampton in his blue van after he'd scrawled "Vote Trump 2016" across the windows along the driver's side.
"I figured I'd come out during the lunch hour and try to get as man eyes on it as you can," Brown said.
- Ryan Murphy
Poll workers at Grafton-Bethel Elementary School announced and cheered each time a first-time voter came through to vote Tuesday.
Voters had to wait anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour to cast their ballots, as a steady stream of people waiting snaked outside the school's gymnasium onto the sidewalk outside.
Precinct chief Connie Jones said that despite the wait, turnout was high. Eighty-seven people were waiting at 5:30 a.m., and the numbers grew nearly every hour.
"This is the largest turnout this far (in the day)," Jones said. "The first Obama (election) was good, but nothing like this.
"We have been ecstatic," she said. People have been so nice, they seem almost relieved that it's just about over. A big relief. This has been a difficult election."
Don Fachko brought his daughter, Kathryn, 10, to vote. He said their 20-minute wait was worth it.
"I've never been on the sidewalk before today, (but) this is the big one," Don Fachko said.
- Jane Hammond
One voter had to submit a provisional ballot Tuesday morning at Booker Elementary School when poll workers said someone had already voted in his name.
Tuesday afternoon, the precinct's chief voting officer Bomani Bassette said he believes he solitary incident early this morning was human error on the part of his poll workers and that the man's provisional ballot had been received.
Other than that, Bassette said everything had been quiet and turnout had been steady.
"We're just now slowing down," he said. Just after 1:30 p.m., the Booker precinct had logged the votes of 1405 people.
Bassette said the issue had been written up and included with the provisional ballots, which Hampton's electoral board will review at the end of the night.
- Ryan Murphy
A significantly smaller number of African American residents have showed up to vote at the Smithfield Center precinct in Isle of Wight this election than for the last two, according to Precinct Chief Julia Winslett's memory.
A higher number of African Americans and Latinos turned up at the Smithfield Center precinct for Barack Obama's initial election in 2008 and his re-election in 2012, Winslett recalled Tuesday afternoon.
"They [Smithfield precinct] were busier," Winslett said. "More African Americans and Hispanics came out for Obama. Now there's more Caucasians that came out for this one."
The Smithfield Center precinct had 1,471 votes cast by noon, according to Winslett. The day had been smooth, with no reported issues. Close to 100 residents waited in line before for the 6 a.m. opening.
Smithfield resident Bill Yoakum, whose truck was plastered with thin, plastic Donald Trump signs, arrived at 6 a.m. and would be at the center all day, he said. He attempted to explain the constitutional amendments to voters who were confused, he said. Of the estimated 250 he spoke to before noon, he guessed more than half expressed confusion about the constitutional amendments, Yoakum said.
A mother and daughter, Lezlie Hardesty and Hallie Marchigiani, said Tuesday after they voted for Donald Trump they were a little nervous about the election.
"I'm a little nervous, but I have a good feeling," Hardesty said. "I had three eagles fly over my backyard this morning."
Hardesty supports Trump partly because of his pro-life and immigration views.
"I just think, if you're going to be here and get assistance, you need to be here legally," Hardesty said.
Another Smithfield voter, Michael Lassiter, said Tuesday he voted for Hillary Clinton because of her experience as Secretary of State.
However, he believes both Clinton and Donald Trump are judgmental of immigrants and Muslims.
"I'm nervous, but at the same time, the country's kind of screwed either way," Lassiter said.
One couple, Gary and Carol Miller, said they voted for Trump because they hope he'd run the country like a business.
Another voter, Jaquala G., said Trump is selfish and doesn't deserve to be president.
"I don't feel like he truly cares about America," Jaquala said Tuesday.
The voter said Trump doesn't care about police brutality and the African Americans who have recently been killed by police officers.
"Us getting killed by police...the racist statements that man says are sickening to me," Jaquala said. "We're all human, we're all the same."
- Hillary Smith
John Hudgins and his wife came out to vote Tuesday in what he called “the biggest election of the century.”
“It’s a privilege to vote,” said Hudgins, who supports Donald Trump. “I want to make sure we get the right person in office.”
Hudgins believes Trump can bring jobs moved overseas back to America and turn the country in the right direction, making it great again.
The Newport News resident believes Trump will be a strong leader, and didn’t mind standing in a long line at Lee Hall Elementary School to cast his vote for the Republican nominee.
- Michele Canty
Chief elections officer for the Stryker precinct in Williamsburg, Cynthia Garman-Squier, said by 9:15 a.m., 1100 of the 6000 registered voters for that precinct had already cast their ballots.
When polls opened at 6 a.m. there were about 90 people in line, she estimated, and a consistent flow of voters persisted throughout the morning. Most were in-and-out within 20 minutes.
Garman-Squier said the precinct prepared for a higher voter turnout by increasing the number of voting booths, poll books where voters check in, and by having two ballot boxes instead of one.
“We anticipated a large turnout,” Garman-Squier said. “We tried to think through the voter’s experience so we have six instead of three poll books and have 31 voting booths.”
She said there hadn’t been any reported problems and only one official observer was present as of 10 a.m. — a man from the Democratic Party. She said there were no unauthorized poll watchers.
“The people of Williamsburg are really respectful and polite and understanding of the voting process,” Garman-Squier said. “We haven’t had any problems and I don’t anticipate any problems.”
- Amanda Williams
A naturalized American citizen, Karina Ortega stood in line with her two sons, 11 and 6, at a northern Newport News polling place.
Born in Panama, Ortega earned her citizenship and first voted in the 2008 presidential election.
She considers the right to vote a privilege, and is concerned that a vote for Donald Trump could put her rights in jeopardy. She’s gravely concerned about his hardline stances on immigration and immigrants, as well as his negative comments about immigrants.
Ortega voted for Hillary Clinton because she feels the Democratic candidate would do more to help all Americans – those born here and those who worked to become citizens, she said.
- Michele Canty
At the Armstrong School for the Arts polling station in the Olde Wythe neighborhood of Hampton, eager voters began lining up early on Tuesday morning.
“At quarter to six, we had about 150 people waiting for us to open,” said the chief election officer, who asked not to be named.
“That’s maybe a little more than normal for a presidential election. We’ve been very busy.”
By 11 a.m., the number of people voting had surpassed 1,000, which is “certainly over a quarter, and moving toward a third” of the precinct’s total, he said.
But despite a steady stream of voters that occasionally seemed to flood the room next to the school’s cafeteria, there was little or no wait for most of the late morning.
“Normally I have six to eight people working, but for this election I have 10,” he said.
“The city anticipated a big turnout.”
Outside the school, New York City resident Liz Horton began greeting voters and handing out sample ballots at 5:30 a.m.
It’s her second visit to Hampton as a member of Virginia Observers, a Democratic-leaning organization that has brought in about 600 out-of-state volunteers to monitor this year’s election.
Though many members of the group are attorneys, Horton is retired – and she came down from Manhattan with her husband because the work “is very rewarding.
“This is an interesting part of America,” she said, smiling as she described how the early morning line of voters filled the sidewalk to the school’s side entrance, then streamed down most of the middle of the block past a pair of trees.
“And it’s great to see the people here so engaged.”
- Mark St. John Erickson
Donald Trump may be an underdog in Virginia, but don't tell that to Muriel Belcher or Shannon Waszak.
Both women offered a strong defense of the GOP nominee after voting late Tuesday morning at Kecoughtan High School in Hampton (where things were moving along smoothly, according to poll watchers, except for a few near fender-benders in the parking lot).
Belcher supported Ben Carson in the GOP primary before switching to Trump in November.
"Number one," she said, "I vote because it's my civic duty. But I'm really tired of the way my country is going. I'm tired of being embarrassed to be an American.""
She thought for a moment before describing what she wanted to see during the next four years.
"I want to see the country run on ideas that are morally sound," she said. "I want to treat everybody like I would want to be treated."
She acknowledged that Trump is "sometimes brutally outspoken, but you know what? That's Trump."
Clasping her hand together, she said, "I'm hoping and praying we get this thing right."
For the record, she's not totally enamored with Trump. She referred to him as the lesser of two evils and laughingly recalled getting a fund-raising letter from the campaign that asked to her to give as little as one dollar.
"One dollar? I'm on Social Security," she said. "And he's got more money than I do!"
Waszak said she was motivated to vote for Trump due to her dislike of Democrat Hillary Clinton.
She's concerned about Clinton's stance on abortion and fears what would happen to the makeup of the Supreme Court should she be elected.
Like Belcher, she voted for Trump and hopes he wins, but isn't totally sold on him.
"I was initially leaning toward Trump," she said, "but I was really hoping someone else would come along."
- Hugh Lessig
Republican and retired law enforcement officer Marty Williams was pressing the flesh Tuesday morning outside the Bartlett Precinct in Carrollton in his bid to unseat longtime Democratic congressman Bobby Scott.
The two are vying in a newly redrawn 3rd congressional district reconfigured to address racial gerrymandering. Until this year, Carrollton was in the 4th congressional district represented by Republican J. Randy Forbes.
Williams likes his chances.
“(They’re) very good,” Williams said. “We’re gonna ride the Trump train.”
The train was chugging away at the precinct, located in a reliably Republican area, where voters in the parking lot bantered about voting for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, only to burst into laughter. A child of 5 or 6 jumped up and down, shouting, “Yay, Trump!”
Williams said he’d already been to six precincts before 6 a.m., “and they were lined up as far as you could see.”
“Demographically, if you look at the numbers,” he said, “we’re very, very close in our numbers for our supporters.
“People are fed up with Washington,” he added. “As am I. And they’re tired of the establishment, and they want people who are actually going to think like they do.”
- Tamara Dietrich
Newport News resident Alyssa Wilson and her husband bundled up their four daughters and headed to the polling place at Lee Hall Elementary School just as the sun was coming up.
The family stood in line for an hour before they got inside the building so Wilson could vote, but Wilson said she didn't mind.
"This is something we want our daughters to remember," Wilson said. "It's our job to preserve President Obama's legacy. We want our girls to know how important voting is, and that every vote counts."
Although their wait outside was long, they breezed through once they got inside, with Wilson casting a vote for Hillary Clinton and other Democrats on the ticket, as well as voting against a state constitutional amendment that she feels would hurt unions that protect workers' rights.
- Michele Canty
About 100 voters waited in line at Cooper Elementary School in Hampton at 6 a.m. when the polls opened.
By 9:30 a.m., a line still wrapped around the building, as Hampton residents streamed in to cast their vote – 756 had voted so far out of the precinct’s 3,067 registered voters – one quarter.
Taxis from Yellow Cab and a van from a retirement home were parked outside, waiting for their passengers getting free rides to cast their ballots. The parking lot was full as frustrated drivers looped around several times before finding a spot. Outside, retired shipyard workers encouraged passerby to vote “no” against the “right to work” state constitutional amendment.
At Bassette Elementary School in Hampton, a similar story – 505 had voted by 8:45 a.m. out of the 2,594 registered -- 19 percent.
Susie Hobson, chief election officer, said more voters cast a ballot there before 9 a.m. than in 2008 and 2012.
“At one time, we had to start limiting how many were coming in,” said Hobson.
Alvean and Matthew Lyons took a ‘selfie’ in the hallway after voting.
About 5.5 miles west, Achievable Dream Academy in Newport News’ Southeast Community was a ghost town by comparison -- the parking lot sat nearly empty, no campaigners outside, and only a few voters tricking in at 8:30 a.m.
It had been that way all morning, said Juliette Packer, chief election officer. During the first hour of voting, only 36 had cast their ballot out of the roughly 700 registered voters – 5 percent.
It was a vastly different scene in 2008 at the same polling place, said Packer.
“In 2008, this place was packed. It was historical,” said Packer. “2012 was pretty good, too. But this election is so different from all the others. The people here are not as excited.”
- Theresa Clift
Nearly a third of the 3,173 voters registered at the Bartlett Precinct in Carrollton had already cast their ballots by 10 a.m. Tuesday.
The parking lot at the Carrollton Baptist Church that was doubling as a voting station was packed on a sunny but chilly morning, and precinct Chief Ellen Ayers said business so far had been “really steady.”
About 80 people are waiting in line by the time the doors opened at 6, she said. By 9:45, 986 ballots had been cast, typically in spurts.
“At this point,” said Ayers, “I would think it compares to the 2012 election.”
Neither election workers nor voters had come across technical issues with equipment, she said, nor issues with voter intimidation or interference.
And voters, she said, are usually quick to say if something’s wrong.
- Tamara Dietrich
By 5:45 a.m., there was a line of more than 50 people outside Jane Bryan Elementary School in Hampton.
One woman who joined the line just as the doors got ready to open said she came early so she could get in and out, and she was surprised by the long line. Much of the conversation from those waiting in line was about waiting to get inside to get out of the chilly weather.
"I left my coffee on the table thinking I would be right back,” said one woman. “It will be cold by the time I get there."
"I thought it was a black Friday sale," said a man who had voted and was walking back to his car.
Retiree Anthony Wright of Hampton and his wife were standing at the end of that long line when they noticed that a man who was walking across First Street had fallen in the middle of traffic. Wright left his place to go help the man who was headed to vote and fell on the curb.
The woman behind his wife noted his kindness and said he must be a very good man. Wright's wife agreed, saying " That's why I fell in love with him. That's just the way he is."
She said they went to church together and the rest was history. Wright called 911 for help for the man, who had a swollen face and was having trouble with his memory when he was questioned about the accident.
“He said he lived by himself. I thought he had a concussion and he needed an ambulance," Wright said after he returned to the line to vote.
- Marisa Porto
Business was unusually brisk at the Hampton Public Library polling station Tuesday morning, with voters starting to arrive more than an hour before the downtown precinct opened.
“We had people sitting in chairs waiting for us when we drove up at 5 a.m.,” chief election officer Candies Byrd said, shaking her head in surprise at the unexpected reception.
“It was just amazing.”
By the time the polls opened at 6 a.m., the line had grown so much that the initial surge of voters posed a challenge, especially after problems developed with one of the voting machines.
But a quick replacement eased the early logjam, enabling Byrd and her staff to process some 200 voters in the first hours.
“This is a small precinct. At 6 in the morning we (are) normally two or three people. But this morning we were slammed,” Byrd said.
“We had to open two boxes of ballots right away – and that’s 200 ballots. It was huge.”
Though the tide started to slow after 7 a.m., an unusual number of first-time voters and voters needing provisional ballots continued to keep Byrd and her staff busy.
Shortly after 9 a.m., a second surge started to form a line again.
“We just don’t get lines at 9:30 in the morning,” Byrd said, as the number of voters moved toward 400.
“So people are interested in coming in and voting.”
This is the fifth election and second presidential election for official Leonas Hill, who arrived at 5 a.m. and expected to work until at least 9 p.m.
But even with most of a long, 16-hour day still to go, her eyes lit up at the sight of the lines reforming in front of her station at only 9:15 a.m.
“I’m excited,” she said, “because I know we make a difference.
“We want people to vote,” Byrd added. “That’s what we’re here for.”
- Mark St. John Erickson
The state Department of Elections has held the first of several planned briefings today in Richmond.
The upshot: "Over all, most of the state's been really quiet," Elections Commissioner Edgardo Cortes said.
Particularly long lines have been reported in Richmond and Prince William County, Cortes said. Henrico County switched from electronic to paper poll books after a malfunction and Surry County went to paper ballots when some of its touch screen machines malfunctioned, a department spokeswoman said.
There was also an altercation this morning at a precinct in Chesterfield.
"It was a verbal altercation," spokeswoman Dena Potter said via email. "I don’t think it was an actual fight."
- Travis Fain
Hampton University is providing shuttle bus service to the precinct at Phoebus High School. Freshmen Nyla Green and Taylor Harvey said their desire to vote was instilled at an early age by their mothers. Both are African American, and they know that their forebearers fought for that right.
- Hugh Lessig
Two hours into Election Day, the 30,000-foot view in Virginia appears to be this: Long lines, no major issues.
Checks with groups monitoring the election on both sides of the political divide turned up no serious concerns beyond one report of a Henrico County precinct with malfunctioning voting machines.
On the Peninsula, Hampton NAACP President Gaylene Kanoyton said it's looking like "a little bit of everybody" turning out in big numbers.
"The lines are long," she said. "More than we expected, which is good."
Quentin Kidd, who heads the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University, tweeted that long lines are the norm across Virginia, and along the East Coast.
The governor just happened to show up at the polling place - where he'd invited the media to join him - at the same time his protege, York County native Levar Stoney, who's on the ballot today in the Richmond mayor's race.
The governor waited his turn in line, according to his spokesman, and according to a Republican operative who just happened to be voting at the time.
"He's a voting VA citizen just like everyone else," McAuliffe spokesman Brian Coy said in a Tweet.
- Travis Fain
Despite concerns about voter intimidation, guns at polling stations and other threats to the democratic process, Tuesday morning began as just another election day at the Smithfield Center.
Even the long line stretching through the pre-dawn parking lot before the doors opened at 6 a.m. -- and then later snaking through the center, around a corner, down the hall and around another corner -- wasn’t unusual.
“It was (also) pretty heavy for the Obama election,” recalled assistant poll chief Paul Bonney. “We had people in long lines.”
Election officials also didn’t issue any special warnings or conduct special training for this election day.
Besides, carrying guns into the downtown polling station isn’t even an issue under Virginia law.
“What we care about is if somebody gets intimidated or scared,” said Bonney. “Then you’re screwing up the election process. After that, we’re not the gun police.
“It’s not going to be a problem,” he added. “It’s more hype.”
Nearly 100 people were waiting in line for the doors to open. After that, a steady stream followed them inside.
The morning began without incident. The line moved at a brisk pace. Voters voted, pasted a sticker to their chest and left.
Bonney smiled at the sight. “It’s a great day to be an American.”
His message to those still wondering if it’s worth it: “It’s early, a little cold, come on in. Everything’s working fine.”
- Tamara Dietrich
Near-freezing temperatures and pre-dawn darkness didn’t deter a long line of voters waiting patiently outside the Smithfield Center polling station Tuesday.
Four score of them, and growing fast. Dressed in flannel, jeans andbrimmed caps. Jackets and heeled boots. Carrying coffee cups and kids. Trailing the aroma of cigarette smoke.
Among them were Mike and Susan Hirst and their grown son, Jonathan.
They’d never voted so early before, they said, but Jonathan was due at work at 7 a.m. for crisis intervention training at the Surry County Sheriff’s Office, where he’s a dispatcher.
“But it looks like I may have to come in after training,” Jonathan said, eyeing the many voters ahead of him.
Tuesday was the culmination of a campaign the Hirsts say was the most rancorous they’ve seen in decades of presidential elections.
“The lack of choice,” Mike said. “The split of the country.”
“It’s going to divide it, one way or the other,” Jonathan said. “Even moreso.”
They worried that division will continue, no matter who wins.
But, for Susan, hope persists.
“A wise woman once told me that we argue during business meetings and during campaigns,” Susan said. “But, once we vote, we need to stand together with our country. We need to stand firm.”
At 6 a.m., the doors swung open and a county official stepped outside.
“The polls are now open,” she said.
A single voice in line rang out weakly: “Yay.”
- Tamara Dietrich
Everything was going smoothly in York County and Poquoson Tuesday morning.
While there was no line at Poquoson's Emmaus Baptist Church there were extra volunteers, with 15 working.
"We don't really have this many people normally," said Diane Moore, assistant precinct chief.
She cited that the location expected a high turnout. As of 7 a.m., about 215 people had voted.
One of them was Dean Lowery, who laughed when he said he voted for Trump. Another voter was Dan Harris.
Harris said it was his civic duty to vote. He cast his ballot for Gary Johnson, calling him an "alternative" to the major party candidates.
About three miles away at Tabb High School in York County, Marie Jordan had just cast her vote for Hillary Clinton.
"I was ready to go," she said. "There was hesitation initially in the race but after hearing both candidates I decided."
Hebb Greenwell, Precinct Chief at Tabb, said the best times to vote are in the middle of the afternoon. People were were waiting 15-20 shortly after polls open.
He thought the constitutional amendments would slow people down, but they have booths were people can review the questions.
- Jonathan Black