How's Your Polling Place Treating You?

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 6 2012 11:50 AM

How's Your Polling Place Treating You?

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- It's random, it's unscientific, it's misleading -- it's a poll of my readers on how the election looks from their polling place! Surprise, surprise, my readers are mostly from Blue America.

From here in Columbus:

In 2008 I voted early because I worked the polls on election day.  Our polling location had a massive, 30-minute wait line the entire morning (and we had at least 25 machines).  Then it died down.  We kept expecting a rush of after-work voters but it never came.  It was just a trickle for the rest of the day after noon.  I got to share my table with a young Harvard law grad who had just moved to Columbus.  Whenever someone had an ID problem, he would swoop in and make sure they knew what their options were re: provisional ballots, alternate IDs, poll closing times, etc.  It was awesome.

I'm lucky that my polling location is right across the street from my apartment.  I could have sworn I heard someone with a bull horn out there while I was getting ready today, but all was quiet when I walked over there on my way to work around 8:45.  They had 10-14 machines set up, plenty of workers, but there were only 4 other people voting while I was there.  It made me feel a little queasy about turnout.  Here's hoping Ohio goes blue.

From Alexandria, Virginia:

I voted this morning for the first time as a Virginia resident at the Lee Rec Center in Alexandria. From 2002 until 2010 I voted in a small suburb of Syracuse, NY where our only real competitve races were for the House in the NY-25/24(Maffei/Buerkle). This was also my first experience having to wait more than 15 minutes to vote (I know, I was spoiled). I arrived at the polling place and waited in line for about an hour and forty minutes, half of the time outdoors and half indoors. I was asking a poll worker what kind of lines they expected throughout the day, and he said he wasn't sure, but that in 2008 they had 600 voters come through at 9 AM and they had already exceeded that this year (it was about 8:15 when I talked to him). One other observation I had was that nobody from the Romney campaign had no visible presence outside the designated polling area, whereas the Obama campaign had a volunteer with a big sign (I attached a picture) asking voters if they needed help or had questions. There was no presence by Tim Kaine, George Allen or Jim Moran's campaigns either- just local folks and the Obama campaign.

From Charlotte, North Carolina:

Voted on last day of early vote in Charlotte, NC - in 2008 and 2012. Same location. In 2008 suffered though 6 hours in line with all kinds of problems and slowdowns; but no anger or frustration from fellow line waiters, just determination to vote. This year, waited in line for hour and 15 minutes. Very efficient and pleasant experience. Btw, passed a couple of polling places (in Charlotte) on the way to work this morning just a few minutes after they opened and activity was surprisingly light and quiet. Maybe it'll pick up as the day goes on.

From Springfield, Virginia:

I usually get to my polling place, Lee High School in Springfield, bright and early to “beat the lines”.  Usually lot is 1/3 full at 6:10 AM on election day.  Today at 6:10 I had to circle the lot for 5 minutes just to get a space.  The line inside made the Uptown Theater on a Friday night look like a Dinesh D’Souza book signing in Ann Arbor.  I estimated it as a 2 hr wait and left to try again around 3 PM.  08’ was nothing like this.  I don’t know what it means but it’s highly unusual.

What does it all mean? Not much! As you'll see in the Dickerson-Issenberg-me dispatches going up all day, turnout patterns are hard to track by any method less intensive than tracking every location, as the parties do. But keep sending in your stories. I'm at daveweigel@gmail.com.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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