In Ohio, beautiful day, long lines
UPPER ARLINGTON, Ohio -- It is a beautiful day in Ohio; the skies are clear, the sun is bright and the air is crisp. This usually means a good turnout day for Democrats. My quick trip to the polls in Upper Arlington, a suburb of Columbus which leans moderate Republican, shows a heavy early turnout. This would indicate a good vote for Republicans.
The pictures I took at 8:30 a.m. show three precincts that vote at a local elementary school. The lines are long, much longer than usual, and a poll worker there told me I should have been there when they opened at 6:30 a.m. to see the lines. She said they were the longest early lines she had ever witnessed upon the opening of the polls. Ohioans take our voting responsibility quite seriously.
Last evening, a poll captain in inner-city Columbus showed me her list of early voters. Normally, she said, her list is about one half page. The list she put in my hand was over six times that length. Ohioans are voting. It could be a long night.
-- Phil Cole
Lack of pens, of all things, delays voting at Florida precinct
PALM HARBOR, Fla. -- Here on the Florida west coast, a rain shower came in from the Gulf of Mexico as I stood in line for 25 minutes before I got my chance to cast a ballot in this election. However, my wife had to wait another 10 minutes before she could vote. Part of her wait was because they didn't have enough pens.
During the wait, people in line seemed patient and seemed patient weren't upset by waiting or expressing any outward frustration over having to wait in line. Part of the reason it took so long to vote was because the ballot had 13 amendments to it along with several judicial contests, which required a yes or no check. Some people had to wait because they didn't have enough pens or some people just walked out with them.
Voting in Florida is a lot different than Massachusetts, where I'd voted since 1986 for a couple of reasons. One is in Florida who requires you to a show a state-issued ID card compared to Massachusetts, which doesn't require identification. The other noticeable difference is in Florida they require you to sign for your ballot while in Massachusetts they don't except you check out at second table with the ballot before leaving.
-- David Jean
Lines snaking out the door don't deter Arlington, Va., voters
ARLINGTON, Va. -- This morning, I went to the Walter Reed School here to cast my ballot. Though the location had opened at 6 a.m. at 8:30 a.m., cars still crowded the neighboring streets and parking lots of businesses not yet open for the day. Signs littered any green space in front of the building and dozens of volunteers eagerly chatted up anyone that would stop to talk before entering the polling location. Encouraged by no visible line outside of the building, I graciously accepted sample ballots from both Democratic and GOP volunteers. Upon opening the door, a line that snaked beyond sight sent me right back out.
Not one to shirk my civic duty because of impatience, I returned on my lunch hour. The volunteers outside had dwindled in number to around 10, but what they lacked in numbers they made up for in eagerness. Inside, there was a smaller, but still substantial line. A volunteer informed me that the wait was approximately 25 minutes. This was a speedy compared to the two-hour-plus waits some of my colleagues experienced at their polling locations this morning. (At Washington and Lee High School, less than a mile away, the line snaked through internal halls and outside around the building.)
-- Ginny Gettemeier Beauchemin
CORALVILLE, Iowa -- On Election Day, Coralville -- a town of about 19,000 residents in eastern Iowa -- is feeling more like the big city, with the voter turnout giving me a record breaking impression. My wife and I took an early lunch today, driving over to cast our ballots where we've done so every election for the last 14 years. For the first time ever, we couldn't just conveniently pull up and park at Coralville Central Elementary School, our voting precinct location. We had to take time to look for an available parking space. Finding a spot, we both looked at each other and simultaneously said, "Wow."
Upon entering the polling station, there was a wait to obtain a ballot. That's never happened before either. As a matter of perspective, my wife voted at about the same time of day in the presidential election of 2008, around 11 a.m. She remembers her ballot being around the 80th submitted in our precinct that year. Today, at 11:15 a.m., my wife's ballot and mine were numbers 202 and 203 respectively.
All the voting booths were filled, as soon as a person left, another person took the spot. I've never witnessed that in the 14 years I've voted at Coralville Central Elementary School either.
-- Mike Thayer
In Michigan, the lengthy wait a polling-place surpriseIRONWOOD, Mich. -- Go in, fill out the ballot application, get the ballot, find a booth, fill the thing out, done.
It's become the norm and not entirely unexpected, not in a city with just 4,301 registered voters. With the polls open for 13 hours, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., there never seemed to be so much of a wait.
Not so much on Tuesday, Nov. 6.
I arrived and was immediately shocked to find a line stretching out of the doors of the small auditorium where the voting is conducted. It was a 20-minute wait just to get to the table where the ballot applications were being handled.
Once I had my ballot, it was another 20 minutes or so waiting in line for one of the polling booths in my precinct to open up. The election workers said it had been like that since the polls had opened some two and a half hours before I arrived to vote.
The amount of time voters were taking once they were in the polling booth was a surprise. Living in a rural, remote area of Michigan's western Upper Peninsula, we don't have fancy things such as automated voting machines (although there is, in fact, electricity and indoor plumbing). The ballots are the type much like the standardized tests given in schools. Each name or choice on the ballot has a small bubble next to it; a black pen in the polling booth is used to fill in the appropriate bubble.
As I saw voters spending so much time in the booths, I was beginning to wonder if the ballots had been replaced by the SAT itself.
-- Phil Watson
Lines in Virginia Beach long, but manageable
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- Once a legal U.S. immigrant, now a naturalized citizen, I make it a point to practice my right to vote.
It is the one question I remember during my citizenship interview: "What is the most important right you will gain from being a U.S. citizen?"
Of course, I did not take this as seriously when I was younger; that's embarrassing enough to admit. But the past two elections, I have been participating and exercising my due right.
It's a chilly day here in Virginia Beach, with temperatures in the 40s, but we endured the line outside the school to wait to vote. My oldest daughter texted and played with my phone, while my youngest daughter took pictures of what she could take pictures of to help pass time. Signs border the school for a final push on securing votes. The parking lot was fully packed. Local TV reporters interviewed just-voted residents.
The line took the longest, the verification was less than a minute, and the voting took less than two minutes.
-- May Poblete
CHESTERLAND, Ohio -- The polls in opened at 6:30 a.m. and in came the masses.
The parking lots at Orchard Hills and Chester Christian Center were filled to capacity. Lines at the Christian Center were long, but at 6:30 in the morning and temperatures in the upper 30s everyone was able to fit inside. The sun is still up and it is a glorious day!
The wait for voters averaged between 30 to 40 minutes. Spirits were high. Voters and volunteers were chatting and laughing. There was free coffee and cookies. No one discussed politics, no one accosted us at the door.
My husband and I voted in a room with eight voting stations. Down the hall, there was another eight stations.
There is nothing like the feeling when you emerge with that "I Voted" sticker on your lapel. I'm proud to be an American with the right to vote.
-- MaryAnn Myers
VERO BEACH, Fla. -- I arrived at my assigned precinct in Vero Beach to vote at 7:45 this morning. There were about a hundred people in front of me, but the line moved quickly. I dropped my ballot in the machine at 8:20 a.m.
I heard about half a dozen people complaining that this was actually their second time waiting in a long line to vote this morning. They had arrived at their normal polling place when it opened and waited in line. When it was finally their turn they found out that their polling location had been changed. They didn't receive any notification.
One woman called the office of the supervisor of election to complain while she was waiting in line for the second time at her new precinct. She was told that it was her responsibility to go online to ensure she was heading to the right precinct. She'd voted in the same location for a dozen years, so verifying it didn't occur to her.
The volunteers said they had around 25 people arrive who had been to other voting locations first.
-- Rachael Moshman
In some polling locations across the country, long lines and drama is greeting some voters. Others are having an easier time casting their ballots. Below, readers and voters share their Election Day-related anecdotes and photos. Here's a sampling of what they're seeing on Tuesday.
Long lines greet voters in South Florida counties
TAMARAC, Fla. --- My neighbors here in Broward County reported wait times of three and five hours to vote in early voting.
This morning, my wife and I drove to the polls with a neighbor and witnessed the long line first thing in the morning. It was far too long. If what we saw outside of the building to get in was any indication, we presumed the line inside the building was just as bad, so we turned away.
I decided I'd do a "drive by" of the polls before lunch time and see how things looked then.
As of 10:15 a.m. the lines at one Tamarac polling location appeared to be rather short. My wife and I have decided to take our lunch break and vote then.
-- Ray Hayden
In Palm Beach County, Fla., lines about one hour
LAKE WORTH, Fla. -- It's Election Day in the quiet Lake Worth/Greenacres community of Covered Bridge in Palm Beach County. The lack of road signs, flag-wavers and get-up-and-goers seems to send a message that this community has almost given up. To me, the voters seem almost irritated this time around but still eager to have their voices heard. The turnout here has created a steady one-hour line since 7:30 a.m. and is expected to last through the early evening.
-- Robin Lyn
Voting early on Election Day in southeast Georgia brings election relief
WAYCROSS, Ga. -- As the polls opened at 7 a.m. here in southeast Georgia, voters awakened in southeast Georgia to the sound of passing rain showers, forming a part of the nor'easter which forecasters are predicting will hit the already savaged northeast with more rain and snow by Thursday. Here, it is in its infant stages of forming and dropping much needed moisture on the woods and farms of the region.
The 7 a.m. opening of the polls brought another kind of relief... relief from what many have felt was a seemingly never-to-end presidential race. Voter turnout at the main polling station in Waycross showed a steady and calm flow of early morning voters hitting the polls before heading to work.
-- Clint Bowman
In non-swing state Texas, votes still do matter
KATY, Texas -- I started this Election Day standing in line at 6:30 a.m., and couldn't help but notice the positive moods in the people around me. Voters from our moderate-sized, 1970s neighborhood continued to stream into the community center. In line, neighbors chatted about the voting machines and registration cards, but no one ruined the positive atmosphere with debates.
No mention of Obama or Romney.
I left feeling elated and proud to start my day on such a positive note. Will my vote count? It probably will not. Did I lose anything in speaking out? No, I gained. I spent the morning amongst joyful people who were appreciative of their freedom to vote. I started my morning with smiles, laughs, and a feeling of contribution.
What could be better than that?
-- Sarah Reade
Little drama while voting in Chicago
CHICAGO -- I decided that 7:45 a.m. would be a great time to go to my local polling place, because I would have missed the initial commuter rush as people vote before heading to work, and I would avoid the lunch and after-work rush. However, a lot of other people had the same idea, and it was a good 15-minute wait, with a judge strictly enforcing the "no cellphone" rule.
I checked in, signed my verification paper, got my ticket stub and ballot, and I was shocked by how short it was! Just a few uncontested county spots, a congressional spot, and two constitutional amendments that read like stereo instructions. I had a hard time concentrating because there was a woman completely losing her mind because she apparently didn't read the fine print when she registered to vote just before the deadline, and had to fill out a provisional ballot. The election judge in charge of handling disgruntled voters was trying to diffuse the situation, but could have at least moved her to an area to continue her screaming while people elected a president. I'm sorry your vote might not count, lady, but I'm trying to concentrate and not vote an entire Green Party ticket on accident, here!
As I was leaving, law enforcement was arriving to subdue "Crazy Patriot Lady," as I've dubbed her. I'm pretty sure my ballot went the way I wanted it too. The machine didn't start smoking or anything when I put my ballot in, and I got my nifty sticker, which I will proudly wear all day.
-- Jennifer Sale
University of Virginia aggressively encourages students to vote
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- It's not an option of whether you will vote. You will vote. That is the mindset of many of the college students around the grounds of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville on Monday, a day before Election Day.
We live in a state where the political parties will duke it out until the very end -- and that is exactly what they are doing.
The College Republicans as well the College Democrats have tried to persuade students in the tug-of-war that is American politics. They may have different politics platforms, but they share one common goal: They want to get the residents of our university involved in the political system, and they want to get them voting.
Both parties have bipartisan members walking around the Grounds to register voters on the spot. Several programs have been implemented where students will carpool to polling places to ensure that transportation is not a hindrance. Since the beginning of the year, students from all political backgrounds have been out in force at advertising tables. While the election campaigning starts to close, each of the political groups leaves one final message at the university: it does not matter how you vote, it only matters that you participate.
-- Wayne Fullen
Meanwhile, in Alaska
FAIRBANKS, Alaska -- Caring about national politics in Alaska is largely a fruitless endeavor. With a meager three electoral votes to cast to put a leader in an office 4,000 miles away, many Alaskans believe that local politics affect their lives more immediately and directly.
In February, Alaska was visited by a national candidate. The only candidate to visit Alaska, Ron Paul, received quite the turn out in libertarian-leaning Fairbanks and Anchorage.
Why would they bother? A flight to Alaska can cost $300-$1200 from various parts of the country, and there is probably little chance of changing hearts and minds here.
I see little reason to vote today as a way to choose my president. My state will go to Romney; my country will go to Obama, and my vote will go to Gary Johnson. My vote will not affect policy I believe in. By voting for Johnson, I can register my discontent with the two-party system. I am sad that election day has come to this, but I feel that I am simply making the best of a system I do not control.
-- K. E. Satyr
OTTUMWA, Iowa -- At the Wapello County Auditor's office, there were long lines Friday, according to a court house employee, Sandy Archer. Job corps students, many of them voting in their first election ever, were brought by bus from the area job corps facility to be part of the early voting effort.
That steady flow of traffic didn't slow down Monday on election eve, as voters continued to wait patiently for their chance to vote.
The process ran efficiently and smoothly. One voter volunteered to take my picture for me as I hand-delivered my absentee ballot to the auditor, Kelly Spurgeon.
-- Jody Bresch