Hundreds of reports on your election day experiences have poured into OfftheBus, and in battleground states the results are mixed. By early afternoon, wait times ranged from minutes to hours and, despite minor hiccups, most people found the process reaffirming.
Expectations going in largely impacted impressions coming out. Fearing 4 hour lines, people thought nothing of waiting an hour and a half. Some used to 2 minute waits in their small communities were happy to wait 45 minutes since it meant more people were engaged. There was little politicking at the polls, and when it occurred, it was mostly of a friendly variety.
Electronic voting machines broke down and names were missing from voter rolls, but nightmare scenarios were largely "what-ifs" that didn't come true. Most problems were fixed on site, but voters nevertheless experienced a sense of exceptionalism. "Sure, my problem was resolved, but what about everyone else out there?"
Overall, people seemed pleasantly surprised that the system didn't implode around them, but still wished the process weren't so complicated.
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; total time at polls: several minutes
I went in to vote this morning, got there by 7 was out of the line by 7:45 only to discover I'M NOT ON THE REGISTRY even though i had in my hand a VOTER REGISTRATION CARD!... After an hour of waiting in ANOTHER very long line waiting to verify that I WAS registered (apparently a legal voters registration card is NOT enough) and had not early voted. Once my turn came up the lady could not find me in the system. After about 20 minutes she discovered a typo on my registration card they spelled my first name as Zsa-Asa she then found THAT name in the registry and suddenly I'm allowed to vote as THAT was the supposed problem all along.
Zsazsa O'Neal, Seffner, Florida; total time at polls: 2+ hours
I noted that they checked my name and middle initial before giving me my ballot pass. The thought crossed my mind that if I had not signed my voters registration documents or my driver's license with my middle initial there would have been a problem, and I would have been calling 1866ourvote right then and there.
Bill Pellegrini, Dania Beach; total time at polls: 2.5 hours
The woman in front of me had an address that did not match up. She was checked and verified and permitted to vote. I was checked in, signed a book, signed a card, asked to recite my address, and given back the signed card with a sticker on it that had my personal information... I filled in my ballot and took it to an optical scanner, where I was instructed to put it in myself and that was it. ID verification, paper trail, all good...I can only hope that it goes half this well in the rest of the state.
Denise Thress, Oxford, Florida; total time at polls: 30 mins
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 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.
Steve Trumbull, Nellysford, Virginia; total time at polls: several minutes
I arrived at the polling place at 6:40 am. Long, long line but full of friendly enthusiastic people. Lots of good conversation. There was a bus load of people from a retirement home that were being helped. We had a choice of electronic or paper ballot. I chose paper. The ballot was easy to read and understand and I put the ballot in the scanner myself. No one seemed to be discouraged. I left the polling place at 10:10. Three and one half hours to cast the most important and exciting vote of my life.
Mary Quallo, Florissant, Missouri; total time at polls: 3.5 hours
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... 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!
Joe Andrukitas, State College, Pennsylvania; total time at the polls: 1.5 hours
Living in rural Virginia, I was expecting to see some sort of voter suppression. To give you some idea about the area that I live in, about a year ago I came home from work to find a six page newsletter had been left in my door by "the knights of theku klux clan". When I got out of my car this morning the first thing I saw was that the McCain volunteer and the Obama volunteers were sitting together, and talking. Not arguing, just having a chat like they were old friends... I was glad to see that we could all come together in this small town in rural Virginia, and make our choice for the future of the country.
Bert Werker, Louisa, Virginia; total time at the polls: 30 mins
My wife and I woke up at 6 AM today and went to stand in line to vote. The line was longer than any other time we have voted at our polling place, however, it still moved quickly... We had the choice of paper ballot or touch screen computer, we chose the paper ballot. There is something about filling in the circle next to your vote that seems more fulfilling to me than a touch screen. Plus, I am too skeptical of the touch screen machines.
Chris Brauner, St. Louis, Missouri; total time at polls: 45 mins
I got to the polls by 5:45 AM to join a growing number of college students who have never seen that side of 6 am. It was incredibly exciting to show the world that this time, young people WILL be heard! Everyone was in PJs and great spirits!... On the other hand, I thought the voting machines were far more complicated than is actually necessary. Also, the lines were long enough that electioneering was still occurring- how annoying.
Arin Smith, Charlottesville, Virginia; total time at polls: 45 mins
Things went smoothly until I placed the 2nd of my ballot sheets into the I-Votronic scanning machine and it jammed. It took 10 mins for the poll worker to unjam the machine, placing keys in all sorts of places to unlock and reset the machine. I grew anxious, because I had scanned my ballot for the Presidential election minutes before the jam. Did my vote get registered? The poll worker assured me it did. I walked out of the precinct with a new feeling, not the excitement I had felt earlier in the day, but one of uneasiness and concern. There were only two machines at this precinct, what would happen if this machine broke down at the peak times of 12:00 and 5:00? Were similar problems ocurring across my county? My state? Nationwide?
Denise Appleby Horland, Plantation, Flordia; total time at polls: 45 mins
Three different people I talked to cited Joe the Plumber as one reason they were voting. Unfortunately for McCain, all three were voting for Obama.
Bill Anderson, Atlanta, Georgia; total time at polls: 1 hour, 45 mins
Today was good day at the polls. As I was walking in to vote I saw person talking to individuals about voting for McCain/ Palin. I have to admit that I had a feeling of pure joy that while I was observing him people were not paying him any mind. The ones that did stop, only paused long enough to inform him that they were voting for Obama!
Tonya King, Liberty, Missouri; total time at polls: 10 mins