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LA county - huge long lines everywhere. Lots of voters being asked to vote on provisional ballots. Not enough poll workers. Voters are not waiting in line.
Sandra P. Thompson
Los Angeles, California
After getting ready for work, I walked over to my polling place (someone's garage) and joined the line of about 60 people. Besides passerby and those leaving the polling place making shouts for Obama, it was pretty quiet and uneventful. However, when I was near the front of the line, I noticed someone walk out of the garage with their ballot and secrecy folder and into one of the houses a couple doors down. I thought it was odd, and probably illegal but I figured the poll workers knew better than me. A couple minutes later I see the lead poll guy come out with a teenager looking for the guy, they get to his door but realize he is already inside. When they come back, I hear the lead guy tell the teenage boy that you aren't supposed to do that. Later I heard them saying to the other workers to look out for someone who had more than 4 ballots (4 was the amount we had with federal and state races and city and state propositions). Later, there was hubbub about two neighbors having eerily similar names. Then I got in hte voting booth, made my choices and went on my way. We had paper ballots that had a disconnected arrow next to the candidate - you had to connect the arrow with a special ballot pen. Then they were fed into a ballot reader. Everything seemed to be going smoothly, besides that one guy. The wait was so long because there was 34 propositions between the San Francisco and California ones.
San Francisco, California
We got to the polls and there were just a few people in line. There were a few electronic machines and about a dozen booths for paper ballots, all in use. We were ushered over to the electronic machines immediately and began voting. I was almost done when my screen went BLANK and the machine spat the card out!! I called over an election worker and he immediately gave me a paper ballot and asked if I would begin again with it. They were rebooting the machine and talking about getting a tech out to look at it. So I went over to a booth and redid my ballot on paper, using the little arrow ballot. It was really easy and fast and I fed it through the collection machine and got my sticker. I'm not really worried about being disenfranchised, but it didn't really inspire confidence!
The folks on the Upper West Side of Manhattan were in for the long haul this morning. Our polling place is next door to my apartment, so at around 6am, I was woken up by cheers and screaming (mostly Pro-Obama, of course) and saw the line wrapped around the end of our block. I didn't see a single person hop out of line then, or when I voted around 11am. There were a few people who needed assistance recording their votes, but there were volunteers aplenty ready, willing and able to assist. I worked 12 - 8 today to ensure I had plenty of time for voting and volunteering before work. My supervisor was incredibly supportive of the time change, and if anything was concerned that I'd be at work too late and miss the first returns. Now THAT is job satisfaction.
New York, New York
I showed up to vote with my daughter at 7:25 am thinking we'd wait 15 minutes. The line was too long (about 300 people), and after about 10 minutes I had to leave to bring her to school. I got back to the polling station at 9:30. Many of my neighbors who I had seen on line earlier were just leaving. I waited 1 hour and 55 minutes to vote. Still it was a gorgeous day, spirits were high and I didn't see anyone leave.
Kansas City is mostly Democratic--especially the Westport community where I live. When I arrived at the poll at 7:25am, I was surprised to see the long line. Even more surprising was the fact that among all the signs surrounding the poling place, there was NOT ONE SIGN for ANY Republican candidate, presidential or otherwise!! The only non-democrat sign was for a fellow named Jim Weber--a Libertarian, running for a state office! A poll volunteer came outside to tell us things would move faster if we used the paper ballot when we got inside--not the touch screen. Well, when I did get inside and got my ballot, I sat down at a big table, elbow to elbow with other voters--no privacy barriers or panels. Just a big, bare table.
Kansas City, Missouri
I went to the precinct to vote at 8:53 a.m. and completed my voting experience at 9:11 a.m. The poll worker checked my I.D. at the door and directed me to go to the opposite wall from the front door of the gymnasium to verify my registration. I was then directed to go to the end of the table to receive my I.D. back and then go sit at some chairs to wait for a booth to become available. (About 5 minutes). The actual voting mechanism was ink/paper/write-in ballot. The worker attending the machine where the ballot was inserted instructed me to hold one end of the ballot and she the other, as "we have to both tear it apart". I had to circle the parking lot of the church building once in order to find an available parking space.
Lisa R. Holt
The machines for our district were broken and they refused to tell us the nature of the problem. We were given paper ballots which we were assured were not provisional. However, we were repeatedly told to make sure the circle we were to fill in was filled in completely.
New York, New York
My wife and I went to our polling place at 8:05 a.m. There are 6 booths, 3 of which were unoccupied. There was no wait to vote. Our county uses a "complete the line" type paper ballot that is read into an optical scanner. The instrument is easy to understand and darn near fool proof.
My sister and I live close by, so we went together to vote. In a giddy mood, we each wore old campaign buttons: hers said "LBJ for the USA" and mine said "Vote Stevenson." When we got to the check-in table, the volunteer stared at the buttons and said, "You can't bring campaign materials in here. "We're just trying to lighten your day," I replied with a smile. "You can't wear them in here," she repeated, as her stone-faced partner added, "They're illegal." "They're dead," my sister muttered, meaning our "candidates". I just wanted to vote, so I removed my button and said, "Hey, just joking." Then our cranky gatekeeper said, "What if I joked I couldn't find your names on the rolls?" Big mistake. My sister leaned in close to the volunteer's face and said quietly, "That's not a joke; it's not even remotely funny." The volunteer tried to smile; my sister was having none of it.
Princeton, New Jersey
I got to the Martin Luther King, Jr. public library at 7am right when the polls opened. The line snaked around the main lobby of the building. As soon as you stepped into the building you could feel the warm humid air of hundreds of excited voters. A dozen or so people came with folding chairs, including the most adorable 7 year old girls who came with their mom. As we waited in line, people started browsing the books in the library and admiring the mural of MLK hanging above us. After the hour wait, I marked my ballot and took a picture to remind me of this meaningful day.
I went to work a few minutes early, at 5:45, then took a break to go to my polling place at 6:50. When I pulled up to Temple Shalom, I couldn't believe my eyes -- all of the parking spaces were full, and there was a line of 50-75 people outside the building (and nearly that many inside). I've been voting there for 10 years, and have never had more than a half dozen people ahead of me.
At nine am, I walked over to my polling place. My employer had given us an extra hour in addition to lunch, so I waited as long as I could stand, to let people who needed to vote before work have a chance first. About two long blocks from my polling place, a woman stopped her car to ask if I was on my way to vote, and if I needed a ride. I thanked her, but said that the walk was part of the ritual for me. Whoever heard of offering a stranger a ride on the street? I had a smile on my face from that point on. The parking lot at the school was packed, which I've never seen before. Most years, I'm one of only a couple of people once I step inside, but there were around twenty five people in line at our precinct, and about the same for the other precinct on the opposite side of the room. The poll worker said that the line had been out the door since they had opened at seven, and was only now thinning out.
What a mess! I arrived at the polling place at 7:20 AM with my husband and mother. It took about an hour to reach the front door. When we arrived at the entrance of the polling place our neighbor, who had just voted notified us that we needed our own pen to vote! Apparently the electronic polling booths were not functioning and the polling place was not prepared to take paper ballots. When I finally received my paper ballot I was told I needed to sit at a long table with other voters because there were only 3 voting booths. There was approximatley 10 people at my table 3 of the 10 we conversing about the voting options in Spanish and a 4th was talking on his cell phone.
I am a twenty year old college male voting in his first election. I woke early and arrived at my polling station fearing I might be faced with lines or machine malfunctions that have been reported in Virginia. I was quite happily surprised to find that the most time consuming part of the experience was walking back and forth from my car. They separated identification into four different tables (alphabetically), which were then separated again at those tables. I had no line and there did not appear to be anyone waiting. I was then sent over to a fellow who activated a touchscreen machine, the same we used in 2006 for the Senate election. As far as I can tell, everything went quite swimmingly.
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