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I'm a 73-year-old white women. I was in line an hour before the polling place opened. There were already a dozen or so ahead of me. It was a congenial group, most with cups of coffee. When I marked my ballot for Barack Obama, I was so excited I could hardly breathe. Mine was the third ballot put through the optical scanner at my polling place. When I left the polling place, the line had continued to grow. Shirley Rish Mesa, Arizona
My polling place was about two blocks from my house. I left around 6:20 am and walked to the polling place. Upon walking, I could see people parking in the street and walking to the polling place. As I turned the corner, I saw the huge line that stretched down the street. I sighed but went and got in line. The polling place is on a busy street so people were honking their horns in approval at all the people in line. A couple of trucks honked their horns and yelled out of the cabs "OBAMA!!!" Others like the Metrobus honked their horns too. That was one of the best parts of the entire experience. The best part was definitely voting. I never for a second doubted that I would get out of line to go to work. I got to work about 45 minutes late. My boss sent around an email yesterday stating we had an extra hour in the day to go vote. When I was voting, I paused at the historical moment. I am a 22 year old African American female. I paused and thought about the idea that I was actually going to vote for an African American for president. I paused and then I got over it and hit the VOTE button. I could not help myself and I let out a little cheer. I had been waiting for this day for almost two years. I believe some people have been waiting for this day for decades.
I was the 203rd voter at my polling place. It was a model of Iowa efficiency and friendliness -- everyone was happy and easygoing, there was no wait, and the polling place workers knew exactly what they were doing. In the parking lot, I saw lots of Obama bumper stickers, and one McCain/Palin sticker. I was ready for a wait -- ipod loaded, new Alice Hoffman novel to read, ready to call npr and report in. But, the biggest struggle I faced was trying not to cry tears of joy on my ballot.
Renee Ann Cramer
Des Moines, Iowa
So uneventful as to be notable. Everything was smooth as silk. I refrained from wearing my Obama shirt, just in case it would be considered "electioneering," but you have to wonder who could possibly be swayed by a shirt while standing in line to vote. It's a scary concept. My wife and I voted at about 8 a.m., two hours after polls opened. Our son, at college in Philadelphia, is voting in his first election ever, and is excited, but he's not feeling great today. He promises to vote, though, and registered in Philadelphia precisely because it is a battleground state. We went in, stood in line while one guy appeared to read the ballot questions six or seven times, and then voted. No problems, no issues. It should be this easy in every state.
An elderly man passed out in front off the line and EMS had to be called. This delayed things, but no one left the queue, which made me proud of my city that people care this much regardless off who they are voting. Also it was 6:45 am. Jeffrey Doyle Rockville, Maryland
I took my mom and brother with me to vote. I did not have any major technical difficulties, but the machine was a little stubborn. I had to press the screen pretty firmly in order to record my votes. An elderly poll volunteer had difficulty demonstrating on the machine, so I imagine that some voters may have had trouble as well. Overall, I experienced a rush of emotions after following this election so closely for so long. I actually felt guilty that it was so easy for us to vote, when I was seeing 4-8 hour lines in other places. Our state is not a battleground, but the disparity in my experience and what I am seeing in other places proves (once again) that our election system must be reformed in order to make voting equal and EASY for everyone in this country.
San Antonio, Texas
I have been voting at this particular polling place right down the block for the 14 years. This morning my husband and I went together with a friend who was a first-time voter. Our tickets were numbers 7, 8 and 9. We arrived at 6:45AM and there was already a line started at the door, which is unheard of for our polling place. Usually it's about a 2 minute excursion; walk in, check in,. vote and out the door. Today when they opened the doors and we started in one of the election officers said "What, is there a party out there?" and we said "Yes- the Democratic Party!" Instead of the customary 4 or 6 machines (touch screens) there were 10. The young guy who is always one of the election officers said he is ready with 2 liters of coffee, water and tylenol so he should be able to make it. When we got into the car to leave, we each had a similar experience: we each said how we kept going back and looking at the selection to make sure it said Obama /Biden. We couldn't believe our eyes and wanted to make sure. We each really looked and just took it in. As we pulled out, my husband said out the window to one of our neighbors, an older African American woman walking with her cane "Hold your head up!" This moment is so powerful and we are so blessed to be seeing it happen and being part of it! Leigh Roche Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
I planned to arrive at my polling place at 7:00 am as usual. At 6:45 am, I got a call from my father, who thought I ought to head out immediately if I didn't want to wait more than an hour. The line was long and getting longer. So off I went and found that my Dad was right. I've never waited more than 5 minutes or so in that polling place in all the years I've voted there. I was so encouraged by the early turnout. No one was really talking, and I saw only one person leave the line. The most interesting thing I saw was a voter a few places ahead of me in line question an election judge about provisional ballots, asking if he could cast a provisional vote in a precinct in which he wasn't registered. The judge advised him that he couldn't, which is true in Maryland, but that if he thought he might be in the wrong place, another volunteer would be able to help him find his correct polling place. He voted without any trouble, so I suspect he was just making sure the election judges knew their stuff. I thought this was a good sign; voters are more educated and aware, and election judges are being careful to know the law. The most disappointing thing I saw was a voter who looked to be about 60 asking if he had to vote the party in which he was registered. Of course the election judge said no, but I was sorry to see a person his age who didn't know how the voting process works. Then again, maybe he was motivated this time!
I went to vote alone, on my way to my last day as Congressional campaign staff. It felt strange to be among those waiting to vote, anonymous in my role as a person who has spent the past four months tracking races, writing press releases, and being a professional partisan. I saw neighbors and chatted with then about soccer games and neighborhood issues; the mood was upbeat and cooperative. I was particularly please (since we live in a college town) to see large numbers of students waiting in line, wearing everything from sweats to pajamas. We worked hard to increase voter registration among students, and their sleepy, texting, presences were a sign that we had succeeded. Voting was smoothe and orderly, and I admit to a tiny bit of wetness in the eyes as I came out of the booth. Maybe it's just campaign fatigue, maybe it was the excitement of voting for real change after 8 years...mostly I was just incredibly moved by the spectacle of Americans patiently waiting, at the crack of dawn, to cast their votes. "Ann" East Lansing, Michigan
Arrived at my polling place at 7 and was out by 7:20. Kids had bakesales on the way in...coffee was available and everyone seemed in high spirits...almost electrifying! Half hour drive and picked up my mother (85 y/o) went to her polling palce where there was no line at all. Bake sale was on the way out here. Again, very positive mood from repubs and dems alike.
I normally vote between six and seven PM, but this year I was taking no chances, and showed up at 7 AM. My usual polling place, Wheeler Elementary in Tucson, AZ, didn't look significantly busier than usual as I crossed the parking lot. Four smiling people were leaving as I arrived, and assured me the wait wasn't "too bad." There was no sign of anyone in uniform, any security, anyone the slightest bit intimidating. Everyone was cheerful and friendly. An extra table was set up, just to handle the ID checking. In a moment I was given a slip with the number 83, and went to sign in next to my name. The next person to arrive did not have the proper ID, and was sent home to get some utility bills to verify his address. The alternative was a provisional ballot. "I'll be back," he promised. One of the poll workers told me there had been only four people so far with an ID or registration problem. After about a three minute wait for a polling booth, I found myself almost in tears as I filled in the first oval on the form, next to the name OBAMA. It took about eight minutes to fill out the rather long ballot, referring to my sample ballot a couple of times on the lesser races and propositions. I turned in the ballot, got my sticker and left. On the way out, I got to tell someone else how short the wait was. Total time, from leaving the house to pulling back into my driveway: 20 minutes. If only everyone's voting experience could be this pleasant and trouble-free! Karen Funk Blocher Tucson, Arizona
My husband and I decided to vote early before work (just after 6 a.m.) and avoid the long lines later in the day. Here in CT, they're predicting a 90% turnout today (no early voting, except for absentee ballots). The parking lot at our polling place was busy, with a steady stream of people and cars in and out. When we got inside, we walked right up to the table where we needed to check in - no line. From there we moved on to the table where we picked up our ballots - again, no line. We went our separate ways to complete the ballot - no waiting. We ran our ballots through the scanner, picked up our "I Voted Today" stickers and left. I'd estimate we were in the polling place less than 5 minutes. My husband, who often votes early in the morning on his way to the train station, said it was busier than usual. Our 22-year-old son, a student at the University of CT, voted early by absentee ballot, and his 19-year-old brother will vote this afternoon on his way home from classes at his community college. We're all supporting Obama-Biden and looking forward to a new beginning for this great country (and an end to the national nightmare of the last 8 years!)
I voted at 7 AM this morning in the town in Ballston, Saratoga County, NY. Everything went quickly and smoothly. They had lots of old mechanical voting machines, so there were almost no lines. It was curtain open and shut. The Democrats were listed above the Republicans. Many of the local Republican candidates were listed several times, because they were also running under the Independence and Conservative lines. Matthew Manon Burnt Hills, New York
Everything went smoothly, officials and clerks were helpful and courteous. When I arrived at my polling place at 6:45 am there were about 150 people waiting in line in front of me. An official there told us that he had never seen a line this long of people waiting to vote, at any time of day, in any election. When I left my polling place, I looked back to see how long the line was. It was about the same -- 150 people.
Elkins Park, Pennsylvania
I arrived at 8:00 a.m. and was out by 9:00 a.m. I think I came at the worst time. Very few people streamed in behind me, so I must have been part of the pre-work rush. If I had arrived by 9:00, I probably would have been there no longer that 10-15 minutes. At least there's free Starbucks coffee...I'll bet THAT line is longer. "Mike" Bowie, Maryland
Anxious to cast my vote, I woke 2 hours earlier (3am EST) and couldn't help waking my daughter 2 hours before her alarm went off. She wasn't happy and said 'Its official, you've turned into your mother!' She wasn't amused as she likened me to the energizer bunny on crack, while she was sullen, cranky, and all around grumpy for having to wake extra early. Standing in line (about 75 people) wasn't a problem and everyone in a good mood. We did find that our polling place had only one problem: the voter registration verification forms were incomplete and didn't include several streets, resulting in many voters crying 'foul', worried they wouldn't be allowed to vote. I noticed several (including my 1st time voter daughter) with cell phones out either recording this SNAFU or calling the state to report the problem. After voting, we noticed the line of voters had doubled and the issue with the excluded streets still wasn't resolved and my daughter was bouncing with energy saying, 'That was so cool! Voting for the first time is like taking your first ride on a rollercoaster. I want to do it again!'
I'm retired, so I settled on 8:45 as a good time to vote (after the before-work rush). There was no line at my suburban precinct. I got my card and chose one of the three unoccupied Diebold machines, took about 5 minutes to complete the voting, and hit the print button. Nothing. Called poll workers, who had trouble figuring out how to cancel the vote so I could use another machine. Finally they opened the printer, and the paper was bunched up. It's pretty clear that people had used the machine and failed to check the paper trail. Finally the machine timed out and returned my card, so they "refreshed" it and I used another machine, which worked fine. I certainly hope my vote got counted...Obama needs all the votes he can get here in "red" country. Next time, I'll go for a paper ballot. Advice to voters on electronic machines: don't leave the polling station without seeing a paper confirmation of your vote! Judith Keim West Chester, Ohio
We arrived at about 7AM to a long line of folks, who waited outside patiently to enter a grade school gym. When we got in, the optical scan broke down so people had to vote electronic. That will slow down the process until and unless the optical scan reader is fixed, but it was otherwise an easy and pleasant experience. The more people vote, the better I'll feel. Use it or lose it.
Stephen W. Davis
My four year old and I walked down. It was pretty quiet in the polling place. Only one volunteer around, and it was for a Republican Congressman. I showed my ID and signed the book. I went into vote and just as I made my selection, and just as I was ready to hit the green VOTE button, my son yelled up to me, "Don't forget to vote for Joe Biden!" It was the cutest thing. And and elderly couple gave him a high five as we walked passed them after I indeed voted for Barack Obama and Joe Biden. D Bond Reading, Pennsylvania
I woke my 6-year-old a little early, and we hustled out of the house to go to our polling place (a local church in the city of Richmond, VA) at 7:30 a.m. The parking lot was completely full, but no line outside the building. Even so, we detoured for a quick breakfast and were back by 8:10. On our way back, we passed another local polling location (elementary school) that's only a couple of blocks from ours - no lines, no congestion there either. When we got back to our polling place, the parking lot was only about half-full...there was no line, no wait...I walked right up to my designated area, presented my driver's license and was given the "ticket" to vote, #201 so far. Two hundred people had voted in the 2 hours since the polls had opened. There were approximately 10 voting machines with only about three in use at the time. I walked right up to a machine, voted and was out of there in less than five minutes. The machine worked smoothly, though you did have to push your selection a couple of times to get it to light up...sort of a typical touchscreen experience. The poll workers were fantastic, one even made sure my son had an "I voted" sticker which I thought was a nice gesture. My area is highly Republican, so it will be interesting to follow the results tonight to see how it swings. The highlight of the experience for me was letting my son be part of the process, to see the culmination of Mommy's 18-month obsession with politics, and to create a memory (I hope). I have vivid memories of going with my mother to vote, and I want him to understand the importance of exercising this precious right. I hope he will look back and remember (at least a little) the importance of this election and that it will influence him to be actively involved throughout his lifetime.
It's been a tradition in my house for me to take the kids with me into the voting booth ever since they were born (my kids are 4,6 &7). We've been talking about the election constantly in the house. Often times I'm dispelling the school-yard election myths, "No honey- Obama isn't going to make you go to school 6 days a week" lol. I really wanted them to be able to go to school with their "I voted" sticker on. So we all got dressed in red white & blue, loaded up into the stroller (I brought my roomate's baby girl with us too) and we headed down the street to the firehall. I didn't have any problems myself, they found my name in the log book easily enough. (though I did overhear them talking to another person who said that another polling place had sent them to this location, and this one wasn't the right one either...not sure what was going on with that.) I took comfort casting my vote in a giant teal blue metal voting booth with old school levers. I suppose it could be tampered with- but something in it's mechanical nature made me feel like my vote was more secure. "We" voted for Obama/Biden on the Working Families line- and everyone got a sticker. When I got home I updated my Facebook status to declare "I just voted for BARACK OBAMA" Now I have to try and get some work done today and avoid refreshing Huffpo/Google news etc. constantly. Kelly Cheatle Farmington, NY
It was exciting but really uneventful. 15 minutes before the poll opened at 7 a.m. the queue stretched almost a block long. But when my partner & I went back to stand, folks moved along briskly. Poll workers (our neighbors) polite and excited. Ballot was short, so all three voting machines were never in use at the same moment. At 8:30 a.m., 25% of registered voters in the precinct (in Center City Philadelphia) had already voted.
Well I got in line at 6:09 am and there had to be at least 80 people on line in front of me. As I got in side of Public School 55, I was told that I had to find my district. I had my voter registration card and it said 72. So when I finally got up to the line. The women said that they could not find my name in the book. I received a transfer form in the mail, so they should have had my name in the book. But I had to wait and fill out an affidivate form and fill in the candiate I wanted, seal it up and that was that. I left at 7:00am. so it was about an hour process. April Mondesir South Richmond, New York
I went to vote early thinking the lines would be outrageously long, and was happy to find that wasn't the case. The polling place was very well organized in my precinct, though I did hear the news that lines around town being a few hundred people long, and one polling place in Kansas City, the book that held names and addresses happened to be the wrong one for that precinct. I'm sure that's going to slow things down for that area, but all in all, my experience was very good. While in line the volunteers were offering a paper ballot or touch screen, when my turn came I wasn't offered that option and I spoke up. I was told I could make that choice and was thanked for bringing it to her attention that I wasn't offered. I chose paper and was off and running.
Kansas City, Missouri
I went to vote before going to work. I want my vote to be counted first in order to be included in the first tallies. I have voted in the same place and with the same "pull the lever to close the curtain" machines for many years. It was very comfortable. The election workers were very helpful. I needed their help to find the right district I am in. Everyone was friendly and smiling. The ballot itself was easy. Besides the list of candidates, there was one initiative on the ballot. It was easy to understand. Overall, nothing exciting happened. I am very proud that I live in America, where voting is calm and not exciting and we respect the results. Christopher Jones Rochester, New York
I was was walking to the polls, and there was a line the likes of which I've never seen before at the GLCC. Fortunately for me, the head of my building's coop board was walking twoard me. She yelled: "Hey Eric! there's no line for our district, so we can go up right now!" I followed her really closely into the building, and the two of us went to the voting machine, where first she, then I signed in. By the time I got to vote, there were about 30 people from my district behind me. I did my duty, and then went out to see how long the line was. It went all the way from the west side of the block to the east side of the block, then around the corner south from 13th street to 12th, then around the corner again and halfway back to 8th avenue. I've never seen anything like it.
New York, New York
We arrived at the polling place at two minutes after 6 am to find the parking lot full. We parked on the grass and entered to find the line dedicated to the second half of the alphabet was empty so we were lucky enough to walk straight in and vote. The volunteers were doing an excellent job moving people through quickly. The most remarkable thing was that at this rural Virginia polling place there were many Obama signs lining the road in but not a single McCain sign. By the time we left at 6:10 the volume of voters appeared to have doubled. Steve Trumbull Nellysford, Virginia
I have lived here for 26 years but only became a citizen last year. Today I got to vote for President for the first time, and I am now truly an American. I voted for Obama and I was singing inside the whole time.
I woke up early to get to the poll ten minutes before it opened (7am). I waited in line with about 100 others, and once the doors opened, the line moved reasonably quickly. We voted on a paper ballot, filling in the ovals with a black marker. To my astonishment (though really, nothing astonishes me anymore), the ballot reader was not working! So we were asked to place the ballots into a slot in the side of the machine. Essentially, I do not know whether or not my vote was counted, which very much worries me. There is not much more to my story, certainly not enough to get to 200 words, but this is a strange anomaly for a small town like Oxford. Matt Findon Oxford, Massachusetts
It's a new morning in America, alright. I arrived slightly after the polls opened at the 7th district polling place in lower Manhattan in the shadow of what used to be the twin towers of the World Trade Center--still a gaping hole and apt metaphor for the past eight years of our current administration. I was filled with hope and ready for the change I definitely believe in and still apprehensive since this was the same polling place I had pulled the lever for John Kerry last election. I thought it was a shoo in then. The temperature was mild and the line was long, around the block but everyone was smiling, patient and orderly. I saw many of my neighbors, several from my book club and a few of our local celebrities. Eric Bogisian, playwright and Law & Order star, exited the voting booth and told those of us from the 7th district we can move to the front. The fifth district had been moved to our polling place at the New York Law School, and both groups had combined creating an unnecessary backup. I gathered the folks from my apartment building and moved forward.
New York, New York
It was amazing. I arrived at 5:55 am to find people in line. In past years, I would get to the polling place, walk right up to the election worker and find I was the second person in the entire district to vote. Today, I was saw many of my neighbors, coffee in hand, smiles on their faces and a bounce in their step. I have been eligible to vote since 1975 and this is the first time I have witnessed such a scene. Over the years I have developed a relationship with the poll workers. They know me who I am and, since they are usually bored from the lack of work, we strike up conversations. Today, however, they were too busy to speak and just acknowledged me with a nod and a large, pleased smile across their face. They finally had something very important to do. Steve Miller North Brunswick, New Jersey
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