The Wash
Empty voting booths
The voting booths weren't always full, with only 314 voters by 1 p.m. (John Seward/The Wash)

Expectations of large crowds at voting super centers don’t match election day reality

While the Nationals Park voting super center supported over 6,700 in-person voters since early voting started, only a couple hundred actually did so on Election Day.

This morning at Nationals Park was windy and quite chilly. Election workers had already been in position for the past week. They’ve had practice at their posts, helping voters through the process to ensure they’re accurately registered and their ballots were filled out.

Booths on Election Day at Nationals Park
Election workers rarely saw crowds, with plenty of booths set up and an efficient process. (John Seward/The Wash)

The concourse had been made into a voting assembly line normally used by the PNC Diamond Club, a venue that costs $195 per game for front row seats on the field. The seats also must be purchased a year in advance. Today though, the club’s Edison bulb mood lighting gave voters just enough light to know what registration table they were being directed to.

Election workers wait patiently on their phones for more voters
Election workers wait patiently on their phones for more voters. (John Seward/The Wash)

As of 1 p.m., the count was only 314 voters though. According to Cheryl Tyler, the voting space opened at 7 a.m. expecting a larger crowd, the official in charge of the polling place. While a jump of adrenaline coursed through when the fire alarm went off in the first hour of voting, even that turned out to be a simple malfunction.

Campaign supporters at the entrance to Nationals Park
Numerous campaign supporters stood outside the park. (John Seward/The Wash)

The efficiency of the voting place has overcome the expectation of the park staff as well. “They told us they were impressed by how quick we got through people,” Tyler said about the one, and only, time a line has formed out of the building. It was one the first day of early voting, and it lasted about 15 minutes. Since then, media, campaign supporters and special interests generally outnumber the voters.

A spokesperson for the Nationals confirmed that all of the venue time had been donated in non-partisan support of voting in the District.

World Central Kitchen providing lunch for voters
World Central Kitchen’s #ChefsForThePolls campaign made sure no one went hungry. (John Seward/The Wash)


Medical tent at Nationals Park giving flu shots
Between the food and free flu shots, Nationals Park became a one-stop shop. (John Seward/The Wash)

John T. Seward

Journalist, Mountaineer, Veteran
I'm a journalist based out of Washington, D.C. and an avid rock climber, mountaineer, and cyclist. After I earned my bachelor's in Philosophy from the United States Military Academy in 2013, I spent eight years in the Army. Now I want to bring the experiences of outdoor and mountain sports here in the United States to a larger audience, helping to educate and engage the public not only about the sports but the greater environmental conservation necessary to sustain them.

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