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What I entered happened to be lines run amok. Instead of having an easy flow to check in there were four lines crushed in together with most people not sure were they were suppose to be. There was on table to check in and receive a voting slip after they check id, then a table to check you off the precinct list which was split into two lines (A-L: M-Z), and finally to vote. By blind luck I happened to get into the proper line the first time unlike other unfortunate voters. This morass was was fortunately fixed within an hour of my time there.The most amazing thing that I found was the sense of duty many of the people around me felt about this election. One gentleman saying telling me that he had just got off a twenty-four hour shift and if he can stand in line there's no excuse not to vote. Mostly for the economy, but also the sense of maybe the first African-American president in our history. There were still questions as to whether or not Obama is the man to fix it; but that was tempered by McCains age combined with his choice of running mate. The usual comment being "there's something wrong with her"; just a feeling.
I went to vote today at 7:00am, which is when the polls open here, so that I could beat any and all rushes that were bound to happen during the day. Lawrence is a college town, home to the University of Kansas, and there was sure to be a large number of young voters if half of what the press has been saying is true. I walked into the church that my polling station was at, and immediately had to walk to the end of a line of at least fifty soon-to-be voters just as the doors opened to allow voting to begin.
Being a relatively tall guy, I had the distinct advantage of getting a great view of just about everyone ahead of me in line. I was immediately struck with recollections of voting in 2004. Back then, I had stood in line for nearly twenty minutes before I got my ballot. During that time, I was stared at by nearly everyone who caught a glimpse of me as if I was from Mars if not at least completely out of place. "Maybe he's lost?" is what I could almost feel these stares pondering at me. Why was that? Because I was a young voter who fell into that 18-30 range. Nearly everyone else in the room seemed to have made it to fifty, or was at least pushing it. I stood out like a sore thumb because John Kerry had failed. He had not energized the youth vote like so many people my age were sure he had. We had grown complacent, guaranteed that our guy would win by pundits ever since Howard Dean's grassroots primary run. Of course, our complacency was a massive factor to Kerry's loss.
This time, things were different. The people who stood out were the ones with grey hair. I counted several, by which I mean four. In other words, at 7:00am on a Tuesday, forty-five or so college-age kids made sure they would be at the polls. One in front of me, a young man named Brian, had inadvertently filled out, but lost, his advance-voting ballot. When offered a provisional one, he began to ask how he would be able to verify his vote since he had heard enough to be distrustful of provisional ballots. The young vote had done their homework as well.
All told, it took me forty-five minutes to get in, and back out. That's more than double what it took me in 2004, and the reason is undeniably clear: Barack Obama has succeeded. The young vote is finally here.
I woke up this morning before my alarm excited to vote. On the short drive to my polling location, I checked Facebook and Twitter to see what my friends' experiences had been and got nervous about the potential wait. My mom and I got to our polling location and had to wait about 5 minutes to sign the book and a minute, tops, to actually vote.
Blanchfield, New York
I just spoke with a fellow employee here at work, David Briggs. He lives in South Brunswick, NJ. He voted early this morning (before 6:30 am) -- he said he went into the voting booth and nothing lit up when he pushed the button. The machine was broken. He told the poll workers and they pulled out a box of paper ballots. The rest of the voting was done on paper. He asked them if they were sure the ballots didn't have any "broken chads." The poll workers just shook their heads.
Election Day launched to a big start this morning in Boca Raton, with voters flying through the polls in 20-30 minutes, based on my sampling of approximately 100 people wearing "I Voted" stickers from different precincts in the area. Ballots are being dispatched to voters quickly, and much of the problem seen in the early voting period has disappeared, clearing the way for one of the biggest turnouts in a Florida election that, by all polls, will be another close election.
The voting itself went quite well and quickly (@ 10 a.m.). The story however is that there was a "greeter" meeting everyone and telling us we had to have a picture ID to vote. Note: NO PHOTO ID REQUIRED IN MICHIGAN. We told this person so, and she refuted it. When we go to the folks taking our names, they verified that if you have no picture ID you must sign an affidavit swearing you are who you are. We complained about the greeter, and one of the election officials went over and talked to her. We reported this to the local Obama headquarters staff leader with the suggestion they may want to visit the various polling places to ensure this mis-information is not occurring elsewhere.
Mount Pleasant, Michigan
The day is finally here! Prepared for massive, voter turnout, I excitedly filled my portable coffee mug, put on my comfortable sneakers and prepared myself for the long lines at the polls. On the way over, I envisioned huge, snaking lines of fellow Obama supporters full of optimism, sharing smiles and fist-bumping each other in solidarity. As I parked, a few other ladies exited their vehicles and we walked in together, silently. We walked right in. No lines, no smiles, no excitment. As the two women ahead of me signed in, desperate for some conversation, I said dejectedly to the woman behind the table "I brought my coffee mug and everything; where is everybody?" "Oh we had a bit of a line when we opened at seven, but not much of a crowd since then." It was 8:30. Hmmmmph. As I signed in I considered fist-bumping the next woman behind the table, but didn't. Oh well. I filled in my little circle, coloring it in over and over, trying to make the moment last and then headed for the car, hot mug of coffee still in-hand. What a disappointment. It was a bit of an anti-climax, I admit, but my spirits lifted as I drove home, thinking about my girlfriend's husband. Undecided throughout the campaign he had, at times and to our horror, actually been leaning towards McCain. Still undecided as he drove to the polls, he made his choice at the very last moment. He may have chosen late, but he chose Obama. The smile returned to my face as I daydreamed about other voters, all across the country, making that same choice. I think it's going to be an exciting day afterall.
Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania
We're in State College, PA, the home of Penn State's main campus. My wife and I arrived at the polling place at 7:00 am, the time the polls opened and found several hundred people, all students or student age, already in line. Our wait was about 1-1/2 hours. I was really proud of the students. Everyone looked groggy, but they all dragged themselves to the polls at an ungodly hour, many of them looking like they still had last night's clothes on. We've voted here for 12 years, and in a normal presidential election we would have been the first in the door at 7:00 am, but "Not This Time." At one point, one of the senior citizen gentlemen working the polls came out to ask the people in line if they were at the right place. He looked surprised and amused at the turnout. Everything went smooth as silk at the polls. I was happy to see that our district got rid of the electronic, paperless voting machines that annoyed us four years ago. They switched to optical scan. The only irritating, suspicious thing was that someone removed the street sign (pole and all) that identifies the street where the polling place is located. I went down to my basement, painted a big sign pointing the way to vote, and nailed it to a convenient tree. I'm going to check the length of the lines throughout the day, just out of curiousity. If we had a 1-1/2 hour wait at 7:00 am, I can't wait to see the lines at 7:00 pm. They are going to be unbelievable! A note to all, if you have a Starbucks don't forget to get your free cup of coffee after voting. After eight years of being in a depression coma, I want to be as wired as possible today.
State College, Pennsylvania
I went over early - about 9 AM. This is a rural polling place, and the turnout was clearly very heavy - there were cars parked all around the town garage, and I was the 162nd voter - very high for this early in the day. There were only 2 people in line ahead of me, and the voting was going very smoothly. I voted with a paper ballot rather than touch screen, and everything seemed to be working fine.
My partner (African American) and I (Caucasian) are new arrivals in New Jersey. We both registered to vote at DMV several months ago, and got our sample ballots in the mail. When we showed up at the polls, I was asked for my name, checked off in the registration book, and showed to the voting booth. However, the first question my partner was asked was "can I see your ID?," this before as much as hello or may I have your name! When I called the Municipal Clerk to complain, I was told "they are permitted to ask for IDs." When I challenged that (in New Jersey, only first time voters who registered by mail without proof of identity have to show IDs), I was told "but this is such a big election." When I called the Middlesex County Board of Elections to complain, I was told "all first time voters have to show IDs." When I explained that that would only be true if we registered by mail without proof of identity (which we did NOT), and, furthermore, why would he (African American) have to show ID before being allowed to vote, while I (Caucasian) would not, I was told "there must have been something in the book that made the poll worker aske him for ID." When I explained that the poll worker has not even opened the book or ask for a name before she asked for an ID, and that someone must call the polling place to ensure that the poll workers follow the law, I heard "oh, ok" and the call was disconnected.
North Brunswick, New Jersey
Here in Idaho the general feeling is the Republicans will sweep the board again, but I'm not so sure of that at all. I hung out at the poll after voting for about a half hour, visiting with friends and neighbors, and I saw a lot of young folks, in their 20's, coming in. My neighborhood has people of all ages, and this is the first time I've seen this many young voters. There are many Hispanics, but I didn't see them voting. We continue to use the paper punch ballots, and have never had any trouble with them here, but this time, I was instructed to check the back for any hanging chads. There was a volunteer at the entrance showing everyone how to work the machine, and a seperate table set up so voters could register on the spot. A couple was registering as I left. It's cold and raining here, but I doubt that the weather will affect the turnout; Idaho usually turns out heavily, and this election is predicted to be about 80%. There has been heavy early voting here since the middle of October. My poll is only a block away in an old folk's home, and I go alone, and enjoy the walk very much.
Michael R. Stanger
Idaho Falls, Idaho
Got to the elementary school at 6:45 (doors open at 7), and I was probably about the 100th person in line. The doors didn't even open until around 7:10ish Made my way to the front and found out that my name wasn't on the voters list. I wasn't the only one either, there was maybe a group of about 20 of us in the same boat and that doesn't count the people I saw leaving because they couldn't afford to wait around while it got cleared up. It seems that the Secretary of State Gavin screwed up and sent out incomplete/incorrect voter lists. We had to write down our name and addresses and one of the election workers had to wait on hold for someone in the city office to pick up so they could verify each person and get them a ballot. I didn't get out of there until 8:30 - 8:45ish. People were pretty relaxed about everything once they were told that they would be able to vote.
It was a dreary morning weather-wise here in Virginia. A steady rain fell outside as my wife and I went through our morning routine. We decided to take our son to daycare and vote together at the local high school about a mile down the street. We had anticipated long lines so we made sure to grab our umbrellas. At 7:30am turnout seemed light but the facilities were set up different than past elections. Rather than enter through the front door of the high school we wet straight into the gymnasium where tables of poll workers verified identities. Here is our county we get paper ballots that are filled in by hand. Your selection is marked by filling out the oval next to the candidate of you choice. Once you make you choice you walk over to a machine that feeds your ballot into, what I believe was, an optical scanner. I noticed that this machine had received 895 ballots from the digital counter on top. What I thought would be a long, wet and tiring task performing my duty as an American turned out to be a complete delight.
I got up early, thinking I'd walk around the corner to my polling place be one of the first in line. By 6am, when I got there, there were already about fifty people queued up. My neighborhood is working class and predominantly Hispanic/African-American; about ninety percent of my fellow voters were black. Everybody was very upbeat, and everybody who had anything to say was voting for Obama. By the time the polls opened, there were about two-hundred voters waiting. The line moved smoothly, in spite of the fact that the crowd was much larger than usual -- one of the precinct workers told me the crowd was already twice as large as the total turnout there in 2004. Things were still copacetic when I left -- no logistical problems, and no obvious glitch
I am a 19 year old college student and this was my first time voting. I walked into the library of my University (an official polling center) and did not have to wait on line for more than 2 minutes. Much to my surprise, the 8 or so other people standing online were residents of the community and not college students. I walked up to the table, in front of a man who was in charge of all voters with last names beginning in R through Z, my last name begins with an R so I went directly to him. He asked for my last name and he was unable to locate my name in the binder in front of him. He then asked if I had registered to vote recently - I had, (I registered just a few short days before the deadline). In this case he pulled out several slips of paper and was able to locate my last name, he then had me print and sign my name and then he handed me a piece of paper to deliver to the woman in charge of the 3 polls stationed in the room. *It was at this point, where my first experience voting went straight to h*ll. The woman was an older African American woman and I asked her explain the electronic system to me. She did less explaining and more voting! She brought me into the booth, assumed that I was a Democrat and told me just to vote across the ballot. Lucky for her, I am a Democrat but I was only going to vote for the President/VP, Senate & House of Reps because I am not a permanent resident in the state of NJ and I did not want to cast an uninformed vote for local elections (I'm from New York, I go to school in NJ and it was just more convenient for me to vote on campus - I did not want my first vote cast through an absentee ballot) I initially thought that this woman was demonstrating a "practice vote" or something because she is not supposed to be in the booth with me when I cast my vote - but instead she saw that I pressed Obama/Biden (because she told me to!), Lautenberg & Payne and then she practically forced me to vote down the row! She then pressed the "enter" button and cast my vote - SHE BASICALLY VOTED FOR ME!
South Orange, New Jersey
I tried to beat the rush today by going to the polls early. I arrived about 20 minutes after the polling place opened to find that they had changed the set up so I had to walk around the building (a church, which I think is wrong) to the new entrance. When I got there, the line was about 40-50 people long but moving. When I reached the front of the line, I found out the hold up was the people who were checking the voters in. Each person had to be verified against a list about the size of a small phone book, of which there was only one. But, after checking me in, it took me 10 min to fill out the ballot, fed it to the Scantron machine and my vote was cast in this historic election.
Our polling place is a firehouse several blocks from our home. I had to wait to get a parking place, which has never happened in the 7 years that I've lived in this middle class neighborhood in Long Island, New York. The biggest change I noticed was the number of families who came to vote together. I saw husbands and wives holding hands on line. I saw mothers who brought their children into the booth with them. I could hear several of them murmuring to their children from behind the curtain. One mother had her young son who looked about six years old pull the large red lever to the right to close the curtain behind them. I was not aware of the law against wearing campaign buttons to polling places in the state of New York. This is the first election in which I felt compelled to do so, and I had an Obama '08 button pinned to the left side of my jacket. None of the campaign workers stopped me and I did get quite a few smiles and thumbs up from people on line with me. My husband works in Jamaica Queens and has done so since the early 90's.
Nannette W. Isler, M.D.
West Hempstead, New York
My polling place is at my condo association club house and while the line was nothing like people voting in the city (NYC), the turn out was larger than I expected. There are only two voting machines here, but the turn out was early and subdued. Living in the suburbs of NYC, there seemed to be a silent sense that this nightmare is about to be over; the Bush nightmare ending, yet so much work to be done. There was an erie calmness and the voting process was moving quickly. A small child, probably 3 or 4 years old, kept all of us entertained, dancing about her parents, singing joyfully. I thought, this vote is for her really - my generation has let the U.S. down the past 8 years.
Secaucus, New Jersey
Capitulations, the dead cat bounce, the bull trap, and baked in the cake were stock market terms touted on NPR as I prepared for early voting at 6:45 a.m. I stould in line with a pastor/ Progressive Insurance agent for about 10 minutes, enjoying our chat along with plans to travel to Chicago. I received excellent service from the poll workers and student volunteers who calmly provided me my ballot. I did have to remove my Obama buttons from my jacket and hat, plus show my Michigan license twice. The polling place had added extra voting booths including some looking more like cardboard boxes. I was allowed to bring in my previously obtained sample ballot, which I made my selections on yesterday, then efficiently transferred my votes to the official ballot. I also have my own voting record copy of Greens, Democrats, Republicans and a Libertarian to note the final votes. Once again my paper ballot recorded smoothly, and I will remember this historic election with glowing memories.
Steve G. Davis, M.A.
Berrien Springs, Michigan
I got to the polling station early at approx. 6:30am. It had been raining. There was already 3 people waiting in front of me, and soon a small line of 20 people had gathered. Some marched right in front bypassing the line and was told to get in line. There was some problems, Los Angeles County CA uses the "inka" vote system. They are like ink pens you push down into a slot to vote. When I got to the voting station, all the caps were on the ink pens, the poll workers did not remove the caps. As I completed voting, and stood in line to hand over my ballot, the gentleman in front of me had his ballot rejected by the optical voting scanner and was told to re-vote. As I handed over my ballot, they poll worker could not give me a receipt for voting. The poll worker who 1st handed me my ballot, was tearing them off and leaving the receipts on the deck of ballots. When I politely demanded a receipt, I was given one that was not part of my original ballot.
San Gabirel, California
Brookline NH is a small town of approximately 4500 people. Normally, it is moderately busy on general Election Day. Today, however, I'd say it was about 25% busier than usual. Driving up to the school I noticed many political signs - mostly McCain. Anything anti republican such as the "Vote for Sununu - Vote for Bush" signs had the word "BUSH" taped over with white tape. Not many Obama signs anywhere. There was no line.
Brookline, New Hampshire
Our polling place at Mt. Olivet Church in southwest Minneapolis ran like clockwork. There was a very long line, winding back and forth, but it moved very quickly. My wife and I joined the line at 8:35 and exited -- having voted -- by 9:10.
Although I'm Latino, I always voted Republican in the past. This year, everything changed. Tired of the lies of the Bush administration I could no longer vote Republican. I was sold to Obama's message of change. After reading his book, Dreams from My Father, I felt Obama is the man can really lead America to a new start. Not wanting history to pass by me, by to be a part of it, I went to the polls this morning, and tears in eyes I voted for Obama.
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