How'd your vote go?

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 02, 2004

As important as this particular presidential election is, I'm more interested in the longer term factors affecting the voting process in the US. The electoral college system, how the media's election day coverage influences voter turnout, the construction and dissemination of information to voters by state and federal authorities, the voting process...basically the user experience of voting.

So if you've voted today (or earlier by absentee ballot), I'd like to ask you: how did your voting experience go? Any problems? How did you find out where to go and when? Did you vote using a computer? Any better/worse than a paper ballot? Were election officials helpful? Was there anything in particular you wished had been done differently? If you planned on voting and were unable to, what was the reason? Those are just suggested questions...basically I'd just like you to share the story of your voting experience, from registering to the actual voting process. In sharing our stories, maybe we can have some effect on changing what doesn't work for the next election. Thanks.

Update: Lots of great responses so far (over 200 of them). Thank you and keep 'em coming! See also some election day images from Flickr (here's a shot from inside my voting booth).

Reader comments

ChristopherNov 02, 2004 at 7:53AM

Long time bitcher, first time voter. I knew where to go via the voter registration card I received n the mail.

The first problem was that the polls where I went too have two lines; one line for each precinct. The lines weren't marked until you actually got into the voting room. That caused much confusion for people in the line (not lines as intended) outside of the room.

Second, the list of names for each precinct was taped to the doors with masking tape. That lasted about 10 minutes.

After that it was smooth sailing. No dangling chads. No broken machines, and no computer voting machines.

The local ballot was somewhat humerous. OF course, there was the Prez issue, the 1 state constitution ammendement, 4,000,000 judges and prosecutors, a school bond issue, and a county child services levy up for renewal. I was surprised that there were so many real issues vs. people running to be judges.

BryanNov 02, 2004 at 7:53AM

As college students, my friends and I voted via absentee ballot this election -- and I must say, doing so produced quite a few debacles.

Some didn't receive their ballots in time, even after requesting them a month in advance, then calling their districts several times to follow up. Others received ballots (we live in Pa) with Nader on them, and feared their ballots would be null and void for this reason, no matter who they voted for. Others received ballots with Nader's name covered hastily by blotches of black marker. And we could vote with pencil? Zuh?

Were we to include a copy of a photo ID with the ballot or not? Folks told us we should, but the ballot information explicitly said we were not to include anything but the enclosed ballot materials.

All in all, a fulfilling experience, but not one I'd want to repeat any time soon. It was almost as if someone were keeping our notoriously liberal demographic away from the polls...hmmmm...

carbaujaNov 02, 2004 at 7:58AM

Voting went quite well for me in Maryland. The line was quite long. We got there 30 minutes before the polls opened and left about an hour later...and we were very close to the front of the line!

I would have liked to cast a paper ballot since the machines in Maryland don't have a paper trail, but the option wasn't there. Otherwise the machine worked quite well (as long as my vote was counted).

One thing of note, when I was being verified, I had to sign two documents and verify my address and phone number. I was surprised by that because when I lived in Virginia all you had to do was give your name. Just thought that was interesting.

Looking forward to a late night tonight!

CarrieNov 02, 2004 at 7:59AM

I voted at 6:30 this morning in NYC (10th and University). Everything was very well run - helpful, informed workers; voting booths that seemed to work (but certainly not enough of them). Even that early I waited over 20 minutes. The average age of people voting at that hour was 50+ so they are experienced voters with their registrations in order. Where are the NYU/New School students? Hopefully they don't get frustrated when they roll out of bed at 11 and see a long line out the door.

LalitreeNov 02, 2004 at 8:16AM

Waited in line for almost four hours for early voting on Saturday. It was a huge turnout on the last day of early voting here in NC. The actual voting process once we made it through that crazy line was painless (large ballot with a draw-the-line-through-the-arrow way of marking them).

DavidNov 02, 2004 at 8:19AM

My vote was awesome. My polling place, PS 314 in Brooklyn, and it was open when I walked by at a quarter to six (it wasn't supposed to open until six). I set up a camera that's going to take time lapse of the polls for a movie that's being produced in my office and then went in to vote. I didn't have to wait in line because there were six election officials/volunteers for each district. I didn't perceive any problems with the booth I voted in.

MichaelNov 02, 2004 at 8:22AM

No major issues in Connecticut. Went early (6AM), pretty decent crowd there for such an hour. They had our precinct organized by street name (suburbia at its finest), fairly painless wait, very clear instructions in the voting booth. I did decide to bend down to make sure I was voting on the proper line...not necessary, but no taking chances in this one. There was some campaigning outside of the school in which I voted, just a few realtively tame people handing out brochures politely. I wonder what kind of effect that last minute "advertising" has, as I did find myself reading one of the brochures while waiting in line. Kind of the equivalent to Point-Of-Purchase advertising, with a little more distance. All in all, a pleasant experience.

brianNov 02, 2004 at 8:23AM

I voted about 30 mins ago here in Cincinnati. Lines weren't horrible, but supposedly the longest poll workers had seen for that time of day.

No hanging chads to be had, for sure. And I was remarkably surprised at how relatively clear the voting process was.

Slip in the ballot, turn the pages (that block out all other choices except that category), punch a little hole. Couldn't be simpler (except, cough, computerized).

Out of all of this, I just hope that voter/citizen apathy is on the decline.

krismcNov 02, 2004 at 8:24AM

No problems in the political hotbed of Cleveland, Ohio. My husband and I arrived when the polls opened at 6:30 to find about 30 people in line already. We waited in line for about 45 minutes, and when we were done voting shortly after 7:00 a.m., the line was well over 100 people long.

We know where to go from past year's elections, but we always forget our specific precinct and have to look it up on our county's website. We were asked only for our names and addresses, no ID required, and there were no challengers that we could see. One nice thing about pre-dawn voting is that there were no exit pollsters out yet. There was a handy bake sale and coffee stand just outside the voting room though!

AmberlyNov 02, 2004 at 8:26AM

Voting was pretty painless in Indiana. Got there at 6:15 and had to wait about half an hour to vote, which wasn't bad because there were only 2 voting booths and 6 people in front of us.

Verification was easy, but I also had to show my ID because when I filled out a change of voter address last month, it went to the county courthouse. My finacee didn't have to do this, even though we sent our forms in together.

The semi-computerized system was easy to use. Press the button next to the candidate's name and the light next to it would light up. When you were done, just press the big red Vote button and it would log your votes.

All in all, it was pretty easy.

ScottNov 02, 2004 at 8:30AM

Dead easy, no line. Voted at 7:10am right after they opened. Used a paper ballot with little ovals that you filled in using a kind of felt marker. Then you put your ballot in a paper sleeve and walk over to feed it into a machine. Done and done. Oh, and one of the polling ladies gladly held my 7-month old son for me.

Christopher CabanillasNov 02, 2004 at 8:32AM

Voted at 6 this morning, number 41 in Virginia. There was a pretty long line which is encouraging I think. Went smooth. After I stood in line for about ten minutes I think it took me maybe 5 minutes to make my vote (president, congress, 2 referenda).

MaryNov 02, 2004 at 8:36AM

Did early voting here in Florida. It went very smooth, I was in and out in less than 10 minutes. The only thing I noticed that was out of the ordinary were the number of Community Relations Board people that were there to observe the process and answer questions. We also have electronic voting with no paper trail and that disturbs me a little.

Jerry HalsteadNov 02, 2004 at 8:44AM

Zeke and I got up at the crack of dawn and started the two and a half mile walk into town. Zeke sniffed the latest news from the ditch while I waved at neighbors driving by.

We wound up at the church (community room fitted up for our wards election) about fifteen minutes early, six people in line before us. I tied Zeke up to a nearby poll, er, pole and we waited. The UPS guy who delivers to our office showed up a couple minutes later and made faces at Zeke, causing him to break out in song. I had to go over and tell Zeke to shutup and lay down and a lady in line came over to give him a biscuit.

The doors opened at 8, by a volunteer and a local cop (K9 division sans dog). We filed into the sub-chamber to be looked up by name and checked off, given a ballot, vote using a marker on paper, re-looked up, and finally the ballot slid into a paper shredder. Well, it looked like a paper shredder but was probably an electronic ballot reader.

Zeke was happy to see me. I took the leash off of him, Kerry & Bush sign wavers both said he was a good dog, and we walked the last mile to the office.

mr. sunNov 02, 2004 at 8:45AM

I manned the Kids' Voting USA booth 6:30 - 7:30 am. What a great way to start voting day. I feel great.

Chris HuffmanNov 02, 2004 at 8:51AM

Voting in Indianpolis went pretty smoothly. The officials were patient, helpful and cheerful.

My only complaint is that when I put my "ScanTron" in the machine, I'd very much like to get a reciept in case of a recount.

Kip IngramNov 02, 2004 at 8:53AM

I'm really glad you asked about this. My wife and I voted early in west Houston in Texas. Absolutely smooth process, though there was a line. Everyone (the poll workers and the people waiting to vote) were friendly, conversational, and pleasant. There was talk both ways about issues, but no ugliness whatsoever.

Finding out where to go was easy; there were lists of polling places at grocery stores, shopping centers, and so on. My wife's company also handed the list out to everyone.

All in all it was a perfectly smooth process. Througout the entire experience I felt that anyone who wanted to vote could find out how to do it.

There's one general election issue I'd like to know people's feeling on. My training is in science and engineering, and in such fields we make measurements all the time. The election, of course, is a measurement: we're measuring public support for competing alternatives. If we assume that roughly 100 million people will vote, and we set as our goal a perfect count, then we're asking for measurement accuracy to eight decimal places. That's more or less unheard of accuracy, except in special circumstances. If you had two quantities match to the fifth or sixth decimal place you'd usually consider them to be equal.

So, my question is: does the American election process really need to get a perfect result down to the last voter, or does it need to 1) clearly distinguish between the alternatives when there is a "significant" difference between them and 2) yield a decisive and unambiguous result even when public support is as evenly divided as it has been in the last couple of elections?

I lean toward the latter as a realistic approach. That of course doesn't mean we shouldn't strive to minimize fraud (accuracy to n+1 decimal places is better than accuracy to n), but it does say that maybe we're getting tied in too much of a knot over all of this stuff. I really worry about the direction we're heading by making everything so controversial.

What do you all think?


BlakeNov 02, 2004 at 8:59AM

My voting wasn't too bad here in Indiana (Indianapolis). I only waited maybe 20 to 30 minutes. I live in a small suburb North of Indianapolis which could be why. The polling place was set up in a very odd fashion though with lots of lines for all the different precincts. Then, for each precinct, 2 separate lines, one to register your and sign your name and address, and one to vote. The problem was, people were just getting in the voting line, and nobody was bothering to tell them. The poll workers didn't seem to find that minor point important, so it ended up being mainly people in line tellling others to register until the poll workers caught on. Overall, it wasn't too bad, but could have been a lot smoother.

jkottkeNov 02, 2004 at 9:05AM

does the American election process really need to get a perfect result down to the last voter

I think this is a very interesting question, but I'd prefer that we ignore it for now and focus on gathering people's voting experience stories. I want to keep this thread as on-topic as possible. Thanks.

And keep the stories coming...I'm happy to hear that things on average are going so well.

Will FitzgeraldNov 02, 2004 at 9:07AM

I voted in Kalamazoo, Michigan; our district uses optical scanners. I arrived around 7:30 am. I vote at the school my daughter attends, and I walked her down. The line was quite long -- it was cool and a bit drizzly, but I didn't sense that people were leaving. I got out at 8:40. I noticed that I was the 101st voter; the previous voter was right ahead of me. So, with the polls opening at 7:00, this means they were handling about 1 voter per minute. The slow point was the number of booths--for some reason, they only allow six per precinct.

This is just the second time that optical scanners are being used here. While I was in line, the scanner started beeping--a person had 'over voted' (voted for two candidates for the same position, for example). But he left before either he or the poll worker had noticed. The scanner wouldn't allow the next voter to insert her ballot until this was acknowledged by the poll worker--apparently, this was the first time it had happened this morning.

I was a little chagrined that people in line could effectively see how others voted as the ballots were fed into the scanner, unless the voters took care to cover the ballots. No one seemed to be worried about this--not the workers, not the voters, not the poll watchers. The MoveOn people were there, as well as Democrats. There may have been some Republicans, but I couldn't tell.

Will FitzgeraldNov 02, 2004 at 9:10AM

Oh, by the way, thanks for asking.

BeckyNov 02, 2004 at 9:11AM

I voted in Massachusetts and did the whole "fill in the circle" a la scantron ballot. It was my first time voting and I was at least 20 years younger than anyone at my polling place this morning. (I'm 23)

All in all things went smoothly, pretty quickly despite the long lines and everyone seemed to be generally in a good mood. My only complaint was the lack of parking as it seemed everyone had to walk a couple blocks from their cars. Overall a good experience though.

jonNov 02, 2004 at 9:11AM

No problems here in super-populated Vermont. Yes, we're a state thank you.

Voted at 715ish, shortly after the polls opened, and there was a fairly decent line, maybe 50-100 people in the two lines (3 wards each).

We still vote with paper ballots, thank god, with fill in the circle choices. But they're electronically counted, which is fine because they keep the real ballot in case of problems.

Some towns here still count by hand. We're probably one of the more backward (thus, accurate) states. ;) Whole news segment last night no how "them durn electronic vote counting machines are just to expensive."

aliceNov 02, 2004 at 9:12AM

I voted at 8 am in the lower east side in NYC. I have to say, it was a bit disorganized. I was directed to the wrong precinct desk and then had to go back and get the right one. The polling workers were on average over the age of 70 and were not as vigilant as I would have liked (eating their breakfasts, a bit harried, disorganized). Also, the NY machines are the old lever type ones, which is fine, but the directions were somewhat vague. I knew how to use it but I could imagine that others could be confused. Overall, I felt nervous about the situation instead of reassured which kind of bothers me.

That said, the energy was palpable. People were excited to be there and very patient to get their votes in. I felt energized and even a bit nervous. I hope my overall experience at the polls are an anomoly and others' experiences are most reassuring.

Go Kerry!

jkottkeNov 02, 2004 at 9:16AM

The EFF Deep Links blog is focusing on electronic voting experiences all day today.

CharlieNov 02, 2004 at 9:17AM

Voted in NYC in lower-manhattan. Similar issues with too many unmarked lines; people confused, no one there to answer questions. Very frustrating, and the really upsetting thing is that one large, well-placed sign could have cleared up hours of confusion for everyone.

The actual ballot is a 1970s-era mechanical booth with a giant lever and all. You vote by toggling metal switches for each candidate. The interface is so confusing to me that I panicked and had to re-check several times to be sure I had flipped the right switches. Very upsetting.

Paul RoubNov 02, 2004 at 9:20AM

Voted absentee, as I pretty much always do. Particularly nice to sit at home, where it's quiet, and make sure I've correctly parsed the fascinating language of amendments and referenda.

This is in central Florida (Melbourne, to be exact). No problems applying for the absentee ballot (online); got it in plenty of time, the instructions were clear, etc. It would be nice if they specified the correct amount of postage required, thus saving a paranoid trip to the post office counter to avoid it being returned.

HeidiNov 02, 2004 at 9:22AM

It took about an hour. I arrived at the small school that is my polling place. There was a line out the building and down the sidewalk, but it moved at about the pace of a roller coaster ride line at Six Flags. There were no representatives of either party in attendance, no pollsters, no cameras, no fake Kerry reps making bad impressions, nothing. I had phone numbers, camera, and cellphone in hand, but there was no need. Of course, we are using paperless computerized voting with no paper trail, so there is that to consider. However, this part of Atlanta is likely to have its votes counted - I worry more about south Atlanta in that regard.

Geoff StearnsNov 02, 2004 at 9:23AM

Everything was smooth here. I found out where to go from a postcard in the mail a few weeks before hand, and double checked that a few days ago by using mypollingbplace.com.

I got to the polling place a little after 8 am, found my table to sign in with no wait at all, then waited about 15 minutes in line for the polling machine, got a helpful explanation on how to use the voting machine and then voted and left. It was one of the old 'pull the red lever' machines and everthing was pretty straight forward as far as that goes.

staceyNov 02, 2004 at 9:24AM

I voted in Connecticut by absentee ballot from the UK. I requested it VERY early (sometime in the spring) and it arrived the last week of September. I was a little surprised at the format (when I voted in CA by absentee ballot in college, it was completely different). The actual ballot was basically just a blank piece of paper...nothing printed in advance except something like "I vote for ________ for the office of ________." The list of candidates was on a separate piece of paper... it was a grid with offices across the top and parties down the side and the candidates typed in where appropriate. It was particularly strange voting for the president, as the office listed on the grid of candidates was "Presidential Electors" but the candidates were Bush/Cheney, Kerry/Edwards, etc. Which meant when I filled in the blanks it read: "I vote for Kerry/Edwards for the office of presidential electors." Huh? My biggest complaint about voting absentee is that there is absolutely no way of knowing whether your ballot has even been received, let alone counted. Obviously you can't be sure of the latter even when you vote in person, but it just feels more likely.

Geoff StearnsNov 02, 2004 at 9:25AM

^ I should add that I was in NYC @ 13th + ave B.

brianNov 02, 2004 at 9:27AM

Voting went pretty smoothly. I knew my polling place ahead of time, and it's conveniently a block from my apartment in Brooklyn. Arrived around 7:45 and it was crowded but not too bad. The only snag was that the line you encountered when first entering the polling place was actually just to determine which district you were registered in if you didn't know, but since we couldn't see into the room were the line terminated, some of us stood in it for several minutes before a volunteer came by and informed us that if we knew our districts, we could proceed directly to the line for that district. There were only two people in front of me at my district's booth (it looked like one booth per district, about eight or nine districts total), so the rest went pretty quickly. All told, about fifteen minutes from walking in to walking out.

Chad BakerNov 02, 2004 at 9:28AM

I voted this morning (Central Florida - Orlando) and had no problems. The polling location had 11 voting booths, so the line moved quickly enough for me to arrive at 7:15 and be out by 8:40. I think I was close to the 200th person to vote at that location (according to the counter on the ballot box and 2 ballot sheets per person).

The only annoyance was waiting in line outside, rather than in the air-conditioning. With the clocks moving ahead last weeked, the temperature is about 80 degrees by 7am.

As for the ballot, here in Orange County we get to "fill in the arrow" that points at the candidate for which we are voting. About as easy as anything I did in 3rd grade.

JeffwaNov 02, 2004 at 9:31AM

My first time voting ever. (I'm 31, and feel guilty about not voting before.) I got to my voting location @ 6:30A when they opened and there were already ~50 people ahead of my wife & I. Only 3 booths, but the people working were friendly and helpful, though they weren't checking IDs, which worried me. Who's to say someone didn't just give me their voter registration card to go vote for them. They did match up the signatures, but who can't forge a signature? Other than that, no challengers present and things moved smoothly.

The semi-computerized system was easy to use. Press the button next to the candidate's name and the light next to it would light up. When you were done, just press the big green Vote button and it would log your votes.

I was disappointed that none of the Sunday liquor licenses were up for vote in my district. I was so looking forward to controling who can get me drunk on Sundays.

I also felt bad for the ~150 people in line when I walked out @ 7:45A. They're going to be late for work. I just hope they stuck around and didn't leave.

JZNov 02, 2004 at 9:32AM

I live in Oklahoma where voting anything but Republican is all but a waste of time. That said, I went to my normal polling place, used the same ballot as always (fill in the lines with a marking pen), and waiting about as long as usual.

The media coverage had me expecting long lines. I hope that didn't scare some people away.

Jeni GrantNov 02, 2004 at 9:38AM

Smooth going in Durham, NC. I got there about 7:30AM. We were ushered inside pretty quickly, and waited for about 20-30 minutes to get our ballots. There weren't enough polling booths (I estimate there were easily 200 people in various stages of voting), so we found a quiet spot on a bleacher. Colored in the arrow, slipped it into the scanner (#527!), and we were out in an hour, all told.

I live in a pretty affluent part of Durham. I wonder how the other, predominantly lower class districts fared.

KimberlyNov 02, 2004 at 9:40AM

Filing this report from suburban South Jersey...

I went around the corner to my old elementary school to vote. It was the first time I had been there in 20 years. We moved this year, and our new voter registration cards arrived shortly after we changed our driver licenses. I was a bit worried, though, because I never received the 'sample ballot.' Not that I use it, but I was concerned nonetheless.

There were about 8 people in front of me at 8:30am. I went to the "P - Z" table, told them my last name, signed in and proceeded to the voting booth. The voting booths are the same I always remember. We use the large stand-up booths -- you pull the lever next to your candidate's name to cast your vote.

I pulled all the levers in quick sucession save one. I angsted over that one, and I still angst over the choice I made.

No hangups, no pollsters, no intimidation, no disenfranchisement. I just hope it's all over quickly.

kevinNov 02, 2004 at 9:41AM

I haven't headed to the polls yet --- will probably after my second cup of joe -- but my brother isn't going to be able to vote. He came down here (Michigan) from Alaska to visit and head over to England on Oct. 13th and I immediately set about arranging for an Absentee ballot. Unfortunately -- the mailing of the ballots from Alaska were twice delayed. The first time due to a Court ruling that called for the ballot to be rewritten -- and the second time (this past Friday) because the postal service underestimated the cost of the postage. He's flying back today and won't land in Anchorage until half an hour after the polls close. Alaska has absentee ballots available at the airport until 8, but that's not late enough. I tried to encourage him to vote Absentee-by-fax, but he did not want to waive his right to a confidential vote. His vote would not have affected the outcome of the presidential race -- but the Senate competition between Murkowski and Knowles is tight and could've used him.

JeffwaNov 02, 2004 at 9:48AM

I'm in Columbus, OH, BTW.

Scott M.Nov 02, 2004 at 9:50AM

Voted at 7am in the northside of Chicago and it took about 10 mins. About 5 mins of that was because of the woman in front of me whose name was not in the big book. The judges couldn't have been younger than 80 and multitasking was obviously not their strong suit. So an argumentative voter basically held up the entire line. After getting my paper ballot there was no queue and no indication as to where to stand next so naturally i stood in the line to have my ballot scanned, which was not right. God help them when they have a line longer than 20 people, it will be chaos. Otherwise no issues. The polling place was a church a block from my house. In 2000, if I recall correctly, it was the library - go figure. The alderman had lackeys handing out flyers with his "suggestions" on them at the front of the church. Weather is kinda crappy (rainy, cold).

kenNov 02, 2004 at 9:54AM

I've been registered in this location for three years, so I knew where to go and what to expect. My wife and I drove to the community center, passed three guys chatting in the parking lot - one said hi - and went in the door. Maybe four others were in line ahead of us. The woman behind us was asked to remove her Kerry pin - that stuff isn't allowed within ten feet of the polling place. I gave my name, a woman pulled my card from a box, and I signed it. A stub was torn from it, which I kept, and I was led to the 50's-era Army-jeep green booth. There's something comforting about these old battleships. I yanked the Dem lever and stood there a minute, savoring the moment, making sure all of the little levers were firmly in place, then I hit the red button. The machine made a whirring noise as my levers reset, and the curtain snapped open. Civic duty accomplished. On our way out one of the three men in the parking lot said, "Thanks for voting."

JohnNov 02, 2004 at 9:57AM

My vote this morning was a bit tumultuous here in suburban Connecticut. Since I moved 3 months ago from the town over, I knew things were going to get hairy with my registration. I probably should have visited the registrar's office. So they had me at the wrong address (Fairview Ave instead of Fifth - how do yo confuse that?) and I had to fill out a provisional ballot.

I wish a) there were an easier and more direct registration system - like once you move and change your postal address, your voting address is changed too; b) the half hour wait was not horrendous, but could have been shorter if the ladies working the books were more efficient - they should just be able to scan your driver's license or passport; c)eventually we should all be able to vote from our homes without the line.

ScottNov 02, 2004 at 9:57AM

Voting went great for me, here in Montgomery County, Maryland (just North of D.C.). The new touchscreen voting machines by Diebold (who's President promised that he'd do everything in his power to "...make sure Bush would win...") were very cool, very easy to use, and a welcome change from paper voting.

I was one of the first 20 in line, and it only took about 40 minutes to get through and do it. All in all, it was a good experience.

matt perkinsNov 02, 2004 at 10:01AM

early voted in tennessee almost a couple weeks ago. it was the first day of early voting and so naturally, it was packed. we waited about 35 or 40 minutes. not bad when compared to other experiences i've heard about.

the polling place was a church. the only thing negative i might really say is that the line snaked through the church halls and past the usual stand full of tracts that you would find in just about any church. but of course, there were tracts on the "slippery slope of stem cell research" and right to life and getting help to cure homosexuality... which are obviously issues to some of the christian crowd. definitely not ideal i think. i mean, anybody there that day had their mind made up. i didn't feel badgered to vote one way or another by the tracts, but when you think of fair voting practices, littering the line with opinions supporting the platform of one of the candidates is a bit over the line. this wasn't a matter of free association. i didn't see an amputee vet in a wheelchair and think, "god, war sucks. i'm voting [blah]." we can't wear blinders through the 50 or 100 ft voting bubble. actual literature though? i just hope that by today it was removed or something. if someone can be swayed by a redskins or red sox victory, guilt-inspiring statements like, "the slippery slope of stem cell research" could surely affect at least one vote out there.

maybe if TN was more of a swing state it would matter more. maybe. someone whose parents attend that church remarked that the church had encouraged to keep the tract stand intact, as a way to preach their beliefs to people coming in the door. or something. again, if this wasn't TN, maybe it would matter more. there's a general culture here that from a moral point of view one side is the right side and one is clearly the wrong side. of course, some of us might argue strongly against that. i would, but it's so pervasive that the tinge of guilt trip extends much further outward than 50 or 100 ft from the door of the local church gone polling place.

a few more tracts placed in the voting line are just one more nail in the pile. that's life in the political minority anywhere i suspect.

AlNov 02, 2004 at 10:04AM

One of the advantages of living in a rural area (about 2 miles from the nearest town of about 200) is going to the polling place, located in the volunteer fire department. The elapsed time, from the time I walked out my front door, to the time I exited the polling place, was 7 minutes (including the 2 mile drive). I was the only voter present at the time (about 7:30am), so it was me and four election officials (one of whom is my neighbor), although two other voters were walking in as I left. There was coffee, donuts, and typical small town small talk.

Ballot was an optical ballot, marked with black felt tip, and read via machine upon completion. The only minutia to worry about was whether or not an election official had initialed the ballot prior to my voting, which it was.

AndyNov 02, 2004 at 10:04AM

Voted at about 8:45 this morning in the hinterlands of Massachusetts - turnout looked surprisingly strong for the small town I live in, and I actually had to wait in line for about 30 seconds as all five booths were full.

As for the ballot - paper and pencil, mark the box next to your choice 'X', and your ballot gets cranked and stamped into a wooden box to be counted by hand later.

All I had to provide was my name and address, although the voter information card I received from the state a couple of weeks ago indicated photo ID providing proof of residence would be required.

Chris ODonnellNov 02, 2004 at 10:07AM

In and out of the polling place in less than 5 minutes. I went at 9:45 AM EST - trying to avoid the before work crowds and lunchtime crowds. My ballot was the 891st cast (from the electronic counter on the ballot box). We used a #2 pencil, which I think is still the most reliable method of voting. Electronic voting will come, but it's not there yet.

PatrikNov 02, 2004 at 10:07AM

I wanted to register and vote, but it turns out that you have these silly laws about having to be an American to vote.

Such a pity considering that I am a very experienced voter and was willing to fly over to the states to make another contribution to democracy.

Well, with a bit of luck, I may be able to try again in four years time. In the mean time, I envy you all.

ValdisNov 02, 2004 at 10:12AM

Westlake, OH. We waited in line for 45 minutes... 8:50 - 9:35am never had to wait before... the turnout was tremendous. Very calm... everyone upbeat. Some first time voters came to the wrong building, but were quickly pointed to the right one. Very organized, no hired guns checking registrations...

JessicaNov 02, 2004 at 10:14AM

Voting was easy this morning in St. Louis, MO (well, the metro area, anyway). I received my registration card in the mail last week, as did my boyfriend who had just registered two months ago at the DMV. That card identifies my polling place. I arrived at the church basement, around the corner from my house, at about 6:20. There were two lines - not marked so you just found out by asking folks - one to show ID, sign your name, verify your address, and get your number, and the other to trade your number for the ballot and go to one of the 10 or 12 booths. We do punch cards here, and it went very smoothly. Took me about 20-25 minutes overall. Everyone was friendly and chatty. The officials said they had never had a line or wait time like they had that morning.

electricincaNov 02, 2004 at 10:15AM

Reading the comments here the one thing that really surprised me is the length of time it seems to take to vote in your country. My voting experience in Britain has been waiting in line for ten minutes at the most and that was in a line of many people and it took less than a minute to cast my vote once I reached the voting booth.

Kip IngramNov 02, 2004 at 10:16AM

Kip Ingram says:
does the American election process really need to get a perfect result down to the last voter

jkottke says:
I think this is a very interesting question, but I'd prefer that we ignore it for now and focus on gathering people's voting experience stories. I want to keep this thread as on-topic as possible. Thanks.

That's cool. I am interested in peoples thoughts on my question; so if anyone would like to share their opinion with me privately please email me at KipIngram@Yahoo.com.

Happy voting, all!

ReidNov 02, 2004 at 10:17AM

I voted in Minneapolis, MN. I got to the polling place right as it opened at 7. The line was pretty long (it ran outdoors). The total time it took me to wait in line/register/vote was a hour and fifteen minutes. The ballot was your traditional fill in the circle. Everything went fairly smoothly.

Chris GaraffaNov 02, 2004 at 10:18AM

As my first voting experience, I'm not thrilled with the way it went. I went to my polling place (Warren Harding High School - this is in Bridgeport, CT) to find that I'm not on the list. They sent me to City Hall, who couldn't tell me why I wasn't on the list - I registered to vote when I moved to this city a year ago - but let me fill out a provisional (actually, it was marked "overseas") ballot anyway.

RobbyBNov 02, 2004 at 10:21AM

On my run this morning, I passed a polling place twenty minutes before it opened. There were ten people in line, and I passed more on their way there.

I was worried that our adventure would be time consuming. But, after the short walk from our downtown apartment, the line was non-existant. Once I changed my address, which only needed a signature from my wife to witness, I recevied my ballot and voted. It took five minutes, tops. Very slick.

Chaz LarsonNov 02, 2004 at 10:21AM

Waconia, MN. My first election in my new home, and there was a problem. I'm voting in the gymnasium at my son's elementary school.

Three big lines. The first, about a hundred people long, to verify you're registered to vote.

The second, similar length and snaking back and forth within the gym, to sign your name in the voter log.

Then, and here's the big problem, you step away from that table and get in a third line, also snaking back and forth in the same room to get your voter receipt and the turn that in for your ballot.

There's no control to prevent anyone [say, an unregistered voter, or someone who had already voted that day] from walking into the room and standing in that third line immediately, collecting a receipt and ballot and voting.

I notified the Secretary of State's office.

Jason ConnyNov 02, 2004 at 10:22AM

Rolled out of bed about 6:30 to get in line. The polls opened here in DC at 7:00 and I was done by about 7:40. Was given the option of using a paper or electronic ballot, chose paper.

The entire process was rather smooth and anyone familiar with DC government knows how colossally inefficient they can be. I recieved a handy voter guide in the mail about two weeks before the election and a handy card telling me where my polling place was (conveniently located about a block from my apartment building). They asked for name and had me sign a ledger. No fuss, no muss. Glad I got there early, the line was easily three times as long when I left as when I arrived.

elliottNov 02, 2004 at 10:22AM

Louisiana Voter here-

I voted at 8AM CST, and my wife and I were the only ones in the place. Funny, I never got any notification card in the mail as in past elections. Hmmm. Otherwise, things went smoothly- I live in a mostly African-American neighborhood, and hopefully people turn out later in the day.

Louisiana uses electronic voting booths- not touchscreen, but pushbutton. It was very clear what my options were, and how to use the booth.

Mike CohenNov 02, 2004 at 10:24AM

I voted in my own precinct this morning around 9AM. It was very quick & easy - I was out in less than 20 minutes. The people who went for early voting were stuck in line for 3 or 4 hours. I figured voting in my own precinct would faster & easier since it's pretty small and we don't have people from all over the county coming to vote.

SarahNov 02, 2004 at 10:24AM

Here in St. Paul, Minnesota, I was heartened to see a 3 inch stack of yellow forms (for new registrants) and also several 18-20 year olds in line with me. By 8:25 the lines were short and the process took less than 10 minutes. Even still, people were filling in their scantron ballots all over the polling place, because no one wanted to wait for the privacy booths. A colleague of mine was doing legal monitoring outside the polling place and said there had not been any problems yet.

SuzynNov 02, 2004 at 10:26AM

Husband and I voted at our kids' school after dropping them off at their entrance and parking in the very crowded lot. Greeted a neighbor couple who had voted and were kissing each other goodbye before going their seperate ways. We were the 171st and 172nd people voting so far, which is a huge increase over our last election. Knew all the election judges and greeted them by name, as well as daughter's soccer coach, ahead of us, and neighbors behind us. One of the judges, with whom we chatted briefly, said that many of the voters were first timers and were confused by the township vs. municipality issue--we live in a city but vote as a township. But they were easily assuaged and voted successfully. We signed our form, the judge carefully compared our signatures to the ones copied on the receipt, which was cute since we see her every day as we walk the dogs. I truly love this part of election day. The rest of this process seems so terribly broken.

Scott JohnsonNov 02, 2004 at 10:27AM

My voting process was just about what I would expect in Dallas. Paper ballot. Voting "booth" was a portable table with walls on the sides. No curtain. Just the bare minimum of privacy. Sharpies were provided for marking the Scantron-like ballot. The election officials were not the most helpful. The gentleman handling the voting room preferred to grunt and point when I asked him questions. The line was great, though! There were only four people ahead of be to get ballots. That's the shortest I have ever seen.

I almost skipped out on the vote today out of sheer laziness. Even if my vote doesn't count for much in this hopelessly Republican state, I'm glad I got out and voted. I feel great because of it!

JimNov 02, 2004 at 10:31AM

37 years old. First time voter!

Found all the info I needed in regards to when,where and how to vote online. Local gov sites were very helpful.

Got there about 7:45 and stood in line for about 2 hours. Good mix of people in line, young, old, black and white. Lots of children running around entertaining us all.

I thought it was a good turnout considering I live in such a small town, and there were three other voting locations in town.

Tonight it will be fun to watch all the 'news' reporting.

DH.Nov 02, 2004 at 10:38AM

I voted this morning in Madison, WI. My wife and I got up bright and early and were in line about 10 minutes before the polls opened. We vote at the local high school, and the door we have used the past 3 or 4 times we voted was staffed by a few helpful students who told us they had moved the polling place to the gym because of the expected large turn-out. Turns out it was a good thing-- the line was pretty long, and there were easily over 100 people in line when the polls actually opened.

The pollworkers are a collection of very nice old ladies. They seem to have been doing this for a long time, since they all looked familiar from the previous votes I've cast. One of them is getting a little hard-of-hearing, but she's got some back-up.

Our ballots are a connect-the-arrow type of ballot that gets counted by a machine right after you fill it out. You get a nice happy bleep from the machine that confirms that your vote is counted, and I know that my paper ballot has just gone into the big box as a recount-able backup to the computer's count. I'm a fan.

The only issue I saw was an inadvertent case of voter intimidation: I saw 10 or so people turn around and leave after seeing the length of the line. I was the 65th voter in my precinct, and I am sure there were over 125 people in line (and growing) when I left. I hope all the people who left go back and vote later today.

IsisNov 02, 2004 at 10:40AM

Just got back from voting in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana (9:30 am). My husband and I walked the few blocks to the polls in the steamy 80+ degree heat of mid-morning. We've voted twice before, so we knew where to go. Unfortunately, there were three or four precincts crammed into one elementary school, and no one seemed to know which entrance to go to. To make matters worse, one of the precincts was abruptly moved to a different location, and the signs were confusing. Several people waited for 15 minutes in line only to be told to go somewhere else. Frustrations were aired loudly.

(Oddly enough, My Polling Place doesn't appear to have any data for our precincts. The LA election website will tell you where you need to go, but it's harder to dig up the link.)

Lines weren't bad -- maybe 10 minutes, mostly in the sun. We only had three voting booths, the semi-electronic ones where you press a button and a green arrow lights up next to your selection. If you look down, it also displays your choices in a tiny LCD screen. Voters ranged in age from early 20s to blue-hairs with canes. Sadly, no air conditioning in the building. No campaigners in sight, although a van did drive by and shout "Vote for Kerry, y'all!"

I did see a representative from Voters' Legal Aid on her cell phone. She seemed to be investigating a complaint that the poll workers at my location wouldn't give a voter a provisional ballot. All the poll workers were in their 70s and seemed a little discombobulated. Nevertheless, I made sure to tell them that they were doing a good job. They have to put up with enough shit today -- and I figure if they're in good spirits, they're less likely to be cranky to the legions of potentially confused voters.

jason LockenNov 02, 2004 at 10:45AM

my wife and i live in portland, oregon.... we vote by mail... got our ballots a week or two ago... filled them out one night after dinner.... had time to discuss local measures, etc.... dropped our ballots off at the county election office after work a few days after we received the ballots... we like voting by mail... you have to sign your name on ballot and they compare it to your registration card signature... so it seems pretty reliable....

leslieNov 02, 2004 at 10:46AM

I voted last week via absentee ballot in San Francisco, CA. We had an enormous amount of important state proposals and I needed to sit down with my voter guide with the full text of the proposals and my League of Women voters ballot guide (which gives excellent non partisan information and explanations of ballot items). It took me a good long while, but I knew there was no one behind me, and I sat drinking diet coke, and carefully filed out my ballot. I walked it to the mailbox and while it was not as satisfying as pulling open the curtains of the voting booth, I dropped it in, and got a little choked up as I walked away, like I do every single time I vote.

I got mail notification with polling places and a second reminder of the deadline to vote absentee, San Francisco does a really good job of making the info impossible to miss.

BjornNov 02, 2004 at 10:49AM

Voted this morning in Minneapolis. The queue at 7:45 AM was about one hour long. When I exited the polling place at about 8:45, it was considerably shorter. The MoveOn people and a voting rights advocate set up camp at a legal distance in the adjacent city park. The process itself was fairly smooth. I registered this morning, having moved within Minneapolis since the last election. Marked a paper ballot which was subsequently tallied by an optical scanner.

Different topic for different thread: Some opponents of the electoral college argue that it unfairly awards states with small populations greater per-capita electoral representation. I was thinking yesterday that it would be interesting to analyze how electors would be distributed if they were based not on a state's population, but on that state's production in various sectors of the US economy. My guess is that a very large percentage of our domestic food source (corn, soybeans, wheat, etc....) is grown in Midwestern states that are among those that electoral college opponents cite as wielding undue influence.

Lance ArthurNov 02, 2004 at 10:49AM

Flawlessly. I was 4th in line at 6:50am and was the first person in my polling area to actually cast a vote. I signed the machine register tape that said there were no ballots in the counting machine before mine, and I fed my 5 1/2 page 8x14 California ballot into the machine to hear it beep as my vote to oust The Idiot was counted.

By the time I left at 7:10 (I did my homework and actually brought a cheat sheet so I knew how I wanted to vote) there was a small line outside. San Francisco is Kerry Country, so I didn't see any knock-down drag-outs or even anyone in drag, surprisingly. I was hoping I could thrust my finger in righteous indignation at a Republican "poll checker" and yell "Ha!" but apparently in states where the outcome is a given, they'll let just anyone vote! Oh, to live in Ohio, just for one day.

emilyNov 02, 2004 at 10:49AM

This morning's vote was the shortest line I've encountered in 12 years, though in neighboring areas there are long lines reported. I moved to Watertown, MA over the summer, and now I vote at the local Hibernian Hall (an Irish-American social club) with a full bar and mural of rolling green hills on the wall!

There were only 15-20 people in line, it went very quickly and efficiently. I brought ID, cable bill, and voter registration form just in case, but didn't need it -- just name and address. We do a "complete the arrow" paper ballot, with a magic marker -- I miss the lever machines, though.

The only contested election in my area is for President -- all our local reps are uncontested Democrats, ahhh Massachusetts. We also had a ballot question on protecting civil liberties while fighting terrorism and moving to repeal the USA Patriot Act -- Yes on 1!

I've been a poll observer before, and I have to say the system is LONG overdue for modernization and standardization, despite the comfort of paper ballots. If people can use an ATM and file their taxes online, how can we let the franchise languish in this mess of arcane, bureaucratic rigmarole? Not to mention intimidation and fraud at the polls...sheesh. Good luck, swing staters! GO KERRY!

Emily PetrickNov 02, 2004 at 10:51AM

I've lived in the same Village for 10 years, so registration and where to go was not a problem.

For my ward, the wait was 1 hour, but for others it was short.

All and all it was pleasant and about the same wait as the last election when the Democrats won (Gore) - bake sale, coffee, chatting with neighbors. All good.

DanNov 02, 2004 at 10:51AM

In suburban Chicago (Cook County) we use punch cards. Voting was easy and straightforward. The turnout was high, which is the same as usual.

Emily PetrickNov 02, 2004 at 10:51AM

Oh, and the ballots were paper and you ran it through an optical scanner.

JeffwaNov 02, 2004 at 10:55AM

electricinca says:
Reading the comments here the one thing that really surprised me is the length of time it seems to take to vote in your country.

Aside from voting for President, there are many local issues to consider as well, such as tax levies for schools, state & local reps, coroner (on our ballot in Columbus, OH.) Plus, my voting place only had 3 machines, so if the line builds up and people take their time, it can take a little while, but it's mostly time spent waiting in line.

kevinNov 02, 2004 at 10:55AM

Farmington Hills, MI.
Just voted. 4 people ahead of me in lines to about twenty booths...Took all of 10 minutes inside. I did find the OPTECH ballots a little annoying.

semaphoriaNov 02, 2004 at 10:56AM

in oregon we are allowed to vote by mail. your ballot arrives a few weeks before election day, and you can fill out the ballot from the comfort of your own home.

if you choose to vote early you can send it through the mail. if you procrastinated till this weekend, like i did, you have to drop the ballot off at a drop site. mine was in our local neighborhood library, on my way home from work. no line. two volunteers with signs indicated wildly from the side of the road that it was a drop site. easy as can be.

David GroveNov 02, 2004 at 11:01AM

Voted at aprox 8:45am (Indiana polls run 6am-6pm).
Waited in line for about 30minutes.
2 machines (Microvote model)
Can see where there could be confusion with where the arrows point to the canidates on the ballots.

LacyNov 02, 2004 at 11:01AM

I didn't early vote this year because the closest early voting location was an hour away (which is ridiculous ... and our county caught lots of flack for not having more locations available). So - this morning - I was at the polling location at 6:45 AM. An hour and 45 minutes later, at 8:30 AM, I was electronically submitting my vote in the 2004 Presidential Election. There will be no hanging chads in Tennessee.

And people wonder why more people haven't voted in years past? This year's voter turnout is going to have record numbers ... and yet it seems that the voting system is just as archaic as ever. An hour and 45 minutes? I can't imagine what the waiting times are going to be like the rest of the day. I thought I was there pretty early - 6:45 AM.

If they want more people to CONTINUE to vote ... in all elections - not just every four years for the President - you've got to make the process go more quickly. It's just not feasible to "go during your lunch hour" ... because if you waited until then - I'm sure it's a 3 hour + wait.

Ah well ... it does feel good to vote though. I stepped out of the booth with a feeling of ... making a difference. Even if I do only count once. (Don't even get me started on how wrong the Electoral College system is.)

emmaNov 02, 2004 at 11:05AM

My polling place was two blocks from my apartment building (note: mypollingplace.com gives the wrong address for my district), but at 7:45am there were already lines forming. First I had to go to an information table to find out which booth I needed to go to, and then I visited a different table to sign in and get my voter card before finally going to the booth. All in all each person waited in three separate lines before voting, but everyone was very helpful and patient.

The voting booths contained pull-lever machines, with instructions in both English and Spanish. It was pretty straightforward, and satisfyingly mechanical.

Nobody gave me any guff or even asked to see ID, but then again New York is hardly a swing state.

AaronNov 02, 2004 at 11:05AM

I voted absentee (as I always do) here in Washington state. They send you a punch card. It's fairly idiot-proof, although Florida residents of 2000 could probably prove me wrong. Read the ballot. Punch out the holes for the candidate you want (the ballot and card have numbers that match for each hole).

Joel SchouNov 02, 2004 at 11:05AM

Let me start by saying that I'm a big fan of the same-day registration offered here in Minnesota. It makes for some truly interesting scenes at the polling places. My precinct votes at the local elementary school and while this area of St. Cloud is mostly middle-age working families, there was a nice mix of younger people (I'm 23) and senior citizens - registered and registering alike. It was refreshing to walk in and see at least a dozen people registering in the lobby of the school and probably another dozen registering in the gym where the actual voting took place. I arrived shortly after 9:00, expecting it to be busy, but not let's-all-vote-before-work busy. There was little or no wait, as I've voted here before and only had to sign my name on the roll.

We have paper ballots with the "connect the arrow" type of indicator that the Madison voter described above. I was surprised to see at least 8 different presidential options, and I was not prepared to have to search through the list for "Kerry/Edwards." (Does anyone know what it takes to get onto a Minnesota ballot?) Still, I gladly voted for the Democrats in that race, did the same for our Congressional race, and then went through the requisite local races, tax referendums, and whathaveyou. I fed my ballot into the big machine, watched the counter tick over to "217" and then got my red "I VOTED" sticker on the way out. It was painless, quick, and dare I say, enjoyable. I love my country. I hope we can take it back from the neo-con clowns in charge right now. (sorry, did I let my opinions shine through too much? :) )

jennifer and the beansNov 02, 2004 at 11:06AM

Lifelong voter (never missed a year since I turned 18), so I went to the usual polling place (with my kids, 7 and 2, along for their civics lesson). I got to the local firehouse at 9 and had to wait in a line, which I have NEVER had to do before (I live in a pretty rural area). They had an A-L line and an M-Z line and the A-Ls were going right in but the M-Z had about a 10 minute wait. I'm unsure as to whether the people handling the A-L ballots were better at their job or if fewer A-L people were voting, or what. Got my ballot (punch card as always), cast my vote, checked for chads, dropped it in the locked box and split. No snags.

J.D. DeutschendorfNov 02, 2004 at 11:07AM

We voted Monday in Chickisha, Oklahoma at the county election board. Oklahoma has what is called absentee in-person voting on Friday, Saturday and Monday before major Tuesday elections.

We took our two eight-year old boys along with us so they could experience the process (they got "I Voted" stickers and got to help us feed our paper ballots into the scantron-like voting machine).

Total time spent there was under five minutes. The machine said my wife, step-daughter, and I were voters 1133, 1132, and 1131.

barlowNov 02, 2004 at 11:09AM

Voted here in St. Louis County (Vinita Park) at 9:00 a.m. at our usual polling place - the basement of some big church. It took an hour in a snaky line - people were chatting - heard a lot of new ring tones. The majority of the voters present were African Americans of all different socio-economic classes. Most of the conversations I heard concerned important things - kids, family, etc. - not too many were talking politics except for the few that I heard discussing the possibility of four supreme court openings. Every other time I've voted, I didn't research the court judges, so I've had to vote them all out of office. This time, I carried in a list of who I wanted to retain and vote out, so I felt better that I wasn't voting against people who deserved to stay in office. Frankly, I voted strictly along Pro-Life lines, and I used the election guides published by Missouri Right-to-Life for about half the judges, and then stuff I found online for the other half. A 33 year old is running for Governor as a Republican in Missouri - that is very interesting to me. I also noticed that no one represented the Republican party in one of the state legislative races here - I imagined my name on the ballot in that spot just to give people a choice next time... That's what I need, a fourth job.

jNov 02, 2004 at 11:10AM

My wife and I walked the block to our northeast Atlanta polling place. We arrived there at about 6:50 and joined the roughly 100 people already in line. The earliest had arrived at 5:30.

After the polls opened at 7:00, the line moved slowly but smoothly. When we got to the door they held us until there was space in the room (a poll worker hold up two fingers indicating two people) and then ushered us in. Apparently our district skews to the early-alphabet last names as the registration line for A-L had about 20 people and the M-Z line (ours!) was empty. Because of this bottleneck there were plenty of empty voting machines. It took about an hour total.

I typically do my research into each of the local races ahead of time and take a crib sheet with me. This is hampered by the lack of a sample ballot in Georgia (I've never received one at least). I was suprised by at least one non-partisan race that I hadn't heard of and had to leave blank.

All-in-all a good experience and I was heartened by the long lines of people and all the of "I'm a Georgia Voter" stickers I saw on the train and street.

barlowNov 02, 2004 at 11:11AM

By the way, we had the punch card style ballots, and there were signs clearly specifying to make sure there were no hanging chads. The ballot was also butterfly, but it was very clear.

P. McCarthyNov 02, 2004 at 11:17AM

Voted at aprox 8:15am (Arizona polls open 6am-7pm).
No wait whatsoever.... it is Arizona
About 10 booths and 5 open tables
Ballot was both simple and straightforward
Optical scanner made what seemed to be the appropriate ballot approval noises?

Was encouraged so see a Mother discussing the issues with her young son while he filled out some sort of Kid Ballot.

Ted MNov 02, 2004 at 11:18AM

From Center City Philadelphia-- I waited for 45 minutes beginning at 8 a.m. Moveon.org volunteers were outside polls checking off names as we went into vote. Slow progress but no confusion. I noticed a poll worker on the phone with HQ to figure out what to do with two voters. Didn't hear resolution. A rainbow of people in line. Poor, preppy, corporate, bohemian, young, old, disabled, white, Asian, black. Everyone had faces of grim determination. This is Kerry Country.

Ramon RodriguezNov 02, 2004 at 11:19AM

I voted this morning with my 18 year old son. I remember bringing him to polling places when he could walk into the booth without bending underneath the curtain. Now he's almost as big as me. Tomas was overwhelmed by being amongst all these rushing adults, not knowing where to stand.
He had a big smile on his face as he pulled the lever of that old voting machine to complete his vote.
At 6:30 AM we where the 76th and 77th voters. As I walked out, I had the sense of being in the presence of my father, one of the many immigrants, a refugee of the Spanish Civil War, most proud of his US citizenship, looking down at us, his son and grandson. Papa always said, show your son the way, don't tell him the way, he will take care of the rest. We the children of immigrants, honor those who came before by praising the opportunity we're given but questioning our leaders when they have strayed from the path set down by the ones who came before us.

th0mNov 02, 2004 at 11:19AM

I had to wait 2 hours as it was raining and they had to cram all the people into a tiny firehouse. People were nice, but what seemed like local clergy were "helping" people figure out what to do and where to go... Not officially, they were just in line and people seemed to know them. I saw one lady who left after talking to one of these people, but it must have been just so she could drop her child off at school. I think I saw a couple of other people, too, leave, and they had talked to those same clergy. I think mainly though, it was because of the wait that they left.

- th0m

lisaNov 02, 2004 at 11:20AM

I waited about 2.5hrs in Charlotte, NC...but it wasn't bad.

At least I didn't have to travel for days via mule
like the people in Afganistan.

SaraNov 02, 2004 at 11:20AM

Just got back from voting, in the heart of DC -- Capitol Hill. This was my first time voting at an actual polling place (voted absentee in past years -- away from my precinct at college), and it was quick and painless. I'd thought about going right after work, but people in my office convinced me to to at 10:30 am, so I skipped out and went to the junior high school, about 5 blocks away.

I stood in two lines -- one based on last name to check into the registration log, and then another one to get a ballot, and I was asked, "Paper or electronic?" I was surprised at that, but said, "Paper." I don't trust voting machines.

I was a little disappointed that there weren't any of the old flag-draped booths that I'd seen when I was little and my mom would take me into the booth with her! I stood in front of a 3-walled, lit cubicle-type thing...it wasn't very secretive at all. I connected the broken arrows with the #2 pencil, and then put the ballot through the machine, where I watched the counter go from 1027 to 1028. All in all, very pleasant.

GO JK. :-)

fluffyNov 02, 2004 at 11:21AM

I voted absentee in NM, but I'm not sure if my vote is going to be counted. The actual instructions on how to use the (optically-scanned) form were hidden way at the bottom of the envelope, so I didn't know whether to use a pen or a #2 pencil until after I'd already used a pen, incorrectly assuming that optical technology didn't care whether it was a really-dark-gray mark or a black mark, and wanting to make sure that no corrupt election official erased and changed my marks. I went over my marks again with the correct implement in case it's a reflectivity issue, but it still has me nervous.

Then there's also the issue of whether my vote will actually make it into the polling station on time -- after all, it's pretty easy for a large envelope marked with "official election correspondence" coming from an extremely liberal state (NY) to a fairly conservative one (NM) to be accidentally lost or misdirected.

Also, Ralph Nader might have fucked things up too; he got a lot of absentee ballots invalidated because they didn't list him on it. (I'm pretty sure mine did list him, but you never know.) Fucking Nader.

nickNov 02, 2004 at 11:21AM

Didn't read any from Colorado yet, so here it is. I voted over a week ago and boy was it an enjoyable experience. I went before I ate lunch and was surprised to see so few people in the place. I found my early voting polling place from a great paper that circulated my street. Basically some great person typed it out and passed it around.

The voting machines in Colorado are fun to use and quite easy if you know how an Ipod works. There is a wheel you turn to scroll trough the selections and a button you press to select it. Some of the older folks in the room were having a little trouble.

The folks checking people's ids were quite nice and quick with their job, much faster than the people at my bank. I was in and out in under 15 minutes, which included filling out some paperwork, reading the machine instructions, checking in, and having a short debate in my mind about an issue I had forgotten about.

BillNov 02, 2004 at 11:23AM

My polling location is relatively new (last November was the first time it and 3 other precincts were in their current locations) outside of Findlay, Ohio. I arrived 5 minutes after the vote started and was sixth in line. It took 15 minutes to get a ballot - every person in front of me was at the wrong location. (Cards were sent a year ago when the locations changed, plus the local election board has a great web resource to pull up your location.)

The delay was all in the poll workers trying to help people figure out where the people really needed to go.

Once I got my paper ballot and sharpie pen, the voting experience was fairly normal. However, the presidential section was strange and poll workers explained it to every voter (at least while I was there). The Pres. and VP names were so far apart, and the VP appeared so close to the next Pres. candidate that they were afraid people would either vote for Kerry by mistake (instead of Bush, since Cheney's name bumped up with Kerry) or vote twice invalidating their vote.

David GrantNov 02, 2004 at 11:27AM

I voted in Dallas this morning, and it was at some kind of old folks home. Paper ballots and sharpies. I was voter #316 in my precinct.

jkottkeNov 02, 2004 at 11:28AM

Brook Meeks details his voting experience on Dave Farber's IP list:

"And then with this handful of 'sample' ballots, the election official did an astounding thing. 'Does anyone need a sample ballot?' he said in a loud voice, holding up a fist full of the yellow, Democratic 'sample' ballots? 'Anyone?!'"

Tim McElweeNov 02, 2004 at 11:29AM

Voting went smoothly in Antioch, Tennessee (just south of Nashville). Polls opened at 7:00 a.m. Central and the line was long. It took about an hour for the whole process. Poll workers were helpful and curteous.

The voting machines were electronic, but rather simple. You'd enter the curtained voting area. A poll worker would throw a lever or bush a button to activate the process. You would then push a square on the large paper ballot insert. A light behind the selection square would light up to indicate your choice. When you had finished making your selections, you then had to press a big, green "Vote" button below the ballot. The selection lights went out, as did a small overhead light I hadn't noticed on entering.

dahlNov 02, 2004 at 11:33AM

I voted by absentee ballot, and had no problems, other than wishing the election board went one step further and let you apply for the ballot online, instead of sending you online, taunting you at this prospect, and then asking you to print out the application and send it in. But I got it in a timely manner, so all was good. And whenever I did vote in person, I never had a problem, except maybe which side of the room I was supposed to check in on.

micahNov 02, 2004 at 11:34AM

Johnstown, PA: Got to the polling place at 7am sharp, and was the 19th voter. In line ahead of me was a couple who were not in "the book of names". The wife had her voter registration card from 2003, and they had not moved since then. The husband asked the woman manning the book, "Shouldn't we be able to use a provisional ballot?" He recieved nothing but blank stares from the staffers.

This bit of confusion really held up the line- the four woman staffers, three of them pushing 75 or 80, seemed confused by default, and this didn't help matters. They finally made a call to the county seat, determined that the couple were at the right polling place, and gave them ballots. I couldn't believe that the staffers had not heard of a provisional ballot until 7:10am on election day- and they had no process for dealing with someone not in the book!

Aside from that, it was smooth sailing. We still have punch card ballots, and this time around, they had two new instructional handouts to help people avoid errors, which was nice.

natNov 02, 2004 at 11:38AM

i voted on the north side of chicago around 7:30. i've been voting in the same place at about the same time of day for the past 5 years and have never had more than two people ahead of me in line. today i waited in line for nearly an hour with at least 50 people ahead of me. there didn't seem to be any problems, and nobody seemed to mind the wait. of course we still have the horrible multi-page butterfly ballot, but that's another issue.

Randy SouzaNov 02, 2004 at 11:38AM

I just got back from voting in Howard Co. MD. No lines in the middle of the morning.

I used a computer to cast the vote. My only previous voting experience was with paper connect-the-arrow ballots in Massachusetts. The experience was not significantly different.

I did find it interesting that the paper ballots always included abridged text for each ballot initiative, plus an explanation of what a yes or no vote meant. The computer interface only showed one sentence and no explanation of what a yes or no vote would do. Maybe this is just a MD/MA thing. But read up on the intitiatives before you go in!

Walker HamiltonNov 02, 2004 at 11:40AM

Chicago, IL: I voted at the local church where I voted once before. I have lived in my current apartment almost a year! A new record for me. The process was quick and I punched the ballot using the little sharp hole puncher.

The Judiciary section was annoying, as there were alot of judges up for confirmation. I pulled the card out and double checked that the hole punch at 4 was correct for the presidential election before I popped the card into the little machine that lets me know if I under or over voted.

When you have to vote for just a few candidate, the hole punch system here works fine. It got ridiculously hard to follow in the judiciary section where each judge needed a yes or no.

Time for ChangeNov 02, 2004 at 11:44AM

Voting process was very smooth for me in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Took about 40 minutes to get in and out. I got there around 7:15 am (polls opened at 7) and was the 37th voter with last name starting with A through E. Interesting thing I noticed was those folks with last names beginning with F and up must have slept in today, as there were no lines for them.

andrewNov 02, 2004 at 11:44AM

Austin, TX: Voted at the supermarket across the street about a week ago during early voting. Surprisingly long lines, but otherwise identical to my past experiences voting at the public school across the other street. Used a computer with an iPod-like scroll wheel, which we've used in Austin several times.

JasonicNov 02, 2004 at 11:51AM

Woke up early and decided to see if I could beat the voting rush by getting their at opening. My polling place is a rural firestation, but there were approximately 20 people waiting in line when I got there. Everyone was polite and cordial and the lines move pretty quickly once they opened the doors.

One definite user experience issue was the placement of the alphabetical division signs that indicated where you needed to go based on last name. The signs were hung them from the front of the table and they became obscured as soon as a line formed in front of them which was an inconvenience on a day like today.

I presented my voter id card, printed my name and received a paper scantron style ballot. I had to wait a little while to get to a booth, but there were 9 or 10 total and it wasn't a big deal. In retrospect had I had a black pen and been in a big hurry I probably could have just gone up against a wall and filled it out since there was nothing special about the booths. One I was in a booth filling out the sheet the poll workers did announce that they had special privacy ballots available for those that were in a hurry and couldn't wait for a booth.

Despite the fact that the ballot was fairly heavy paper stock I noticed after I flipped it over to fill out the back that my marks from the back side had soaked through and were clearly visible. Luckily the marks didn't allign with the answer space or this could have been an issue I think. The scantron machine happily took my ballot when I was done however (give me a paper trail or give me death!) and the counter indicated I was number 27. I grabbed my little I voted sticker and headed out feeling happy and proud to have voted for the first time in several years.

Shakeel MahateNov 02, 2004 at 11:52AM

I voted in Raleigh Fire Station #20, North Carolina. There were over 100 hundred people in the line before the voting station opened a little before 6:30 AM. I was in the line at around 6:05 AM.

There was one main queue and then it got broken into 6 queues as you entered the fire station. The queues were based upon the first alphabet of your last name.

And then there was another queue for receiving the ballot. The place was cramped and there was a lot of confusion.

There werent many booths for filing out the ballots, however we could fill out the ballots without going to the booths.

Once you filled out the ballot, you had to deposit it in the optical scanner. The scanner cound was 80 when I deposited my ballot.

I left the station at around 7:05 AM.

annetteNov 02, 2004 at 11:54AM

I voted last Tuesday afternoon during early voting. I waited for about ten minutes in line. I lost my voter registration card so I had to use my driver's license to sign in. We have electronic touch-screen voting booths, which I used without any problem.

RobNov 02, 2004 at 11:55AM

I've been voting for almost 10 years in the same county in New Jersey, but for the very first time in a different town. I rolled out of bed and into the voting booth at 6:30AM and I was the 20th person to have voted in my district. Everything went swimmingly, as it always does in New Jersey. Electronic voting machines rock...no computer, no hole-punching. Just simple circuitry.

james pancakeNov 02, 2004 at 11:57AM

Columbus, Ohio.

The demographics for my area code (43201) are pretty innercity. Of
course, that's the other side of High street. My side of High is
pretty much dandytown. The vote challenger probably had never been to this part of town before and looked a little stymied because there were only white folk to challenge! So, what he did was randomly challenge people which must have been great fun for him until this super bitchy queen (faced with a 2.5 hour wait, anyone can get grumpy -- though most everyone seemed to take it well) TOTALLY STARTED YELLING AT HIM. I mean, YELLING. The situation was defused by a kindly vote monitor (note: I think vote monitors tend to be lieberals and vote challengers tend to be republocrats) who escorted the irrate man from the room but not before our hero hissed "you should be ASHAMED of yourself!"

Other than that, voting was fine. I was kept up late last night because I live right around the corner from the Short North (shortnorth.org) Temple of Kerry and they were tilting at windmills until the late hours. I want to share in their exuberance, but I'm too afraid to get my hopes up.

EricNov 02, 2004 at 11:59AM

Easton, Pa: Almost no line late morning - about 4 people ahead of me. Lots of Kerry signage on the walk there, and one Bush supporter outside. Still using the voting machines with the little levers that you pull down to mark your choices to reveal a red arrow pointing to your choice, and you can put them back up to "undo" a mistake before you cast your vote.

It did say something like check ID required under my name, but they just looked at my signature and didn't ask for ID.

I volunteered to work the poll with the voter registration office, and was told I would be contacted if there was need. From the looks of things the old folks contingent were there in force and I was never contacted. I also volunteered my services as a designer to consult on readability and legibility for ballots, signage for locating the polling place, etc. I got no response to that offer.

Mouser WilliamsNov 02, 2004 at 12:00PM

I figured that there would be long lines today, so I voted last Friday. New Mexico allows early voting and it was really quite simple. I showed up at the county clerk's office, there was no line despite there only being three voting booths, I voted on the paper ballot and was out of there in five minutes.

The clerk said that over 25% of registered voters in Los Alamos County had already voted (as of Friday afternoon).

Early voting was extremely convenient for me and I hope that more states add this option in the future.

Vinnie GarciaNov 02, 2004 at 12:01PM

Voting went well here in Philadelphia. Showed my ID because it was my first time voting in this precinct, otherwise I wouldn't have to. I got there at 7AM sharp and waited for about 50 minutes to vote, 30 of which were because the voting machines weren't set up yet. I was something like #40 in line by the time I got there, but the line went by quick once the machines were going. No Nader on our ballot, but I wasn't voting for him anyway, and there was lots of other third parties on like Libertarian, Green. The macines were electronic, which kind of sucks because you can't write in a candidate, but it was very easy to vote. Most of the people in line were between age 20-30 (lots of medical students because of nearby university hospitals). Nice turnout, lots of cool people.

Brian DavisNov 02, 2004 at 12:03PM

Vting went down without a hitch in Baltimore County, Marlyand. No waiting in line, hassle free voting computer, easy-to-read ballot. I was kind of upset about the electioneers peddling their wares beyond the "no electioneers after this line" sign. At any rate, a seemless process.

~bcNov 02, 2004 at 12:03PM

I enjoyed my second Presidential vote today in MA. (third if you count my pro-Dean vote in the primary) I got there early (7:30am, polls opened at 7am), and there was a line 100 yards long (counting the twists inside the building). Easy enough, I was on the rolls, I was handed an optical scan ballot, filled it in with a "special" magic-marker (circles like on standardized school testing), and waited in another line to feed it though the optical reader. Rumor has it the counting machines used here are made by Diebold. That scares me. But living only about two miles from the Kerry residence, I don't think I have too much to worry about. When I lived in CT, the machines were big lever-pullers. Felt much more like i had my hands on the government and was physically chaging things. Much more rewarding. All in all, the experience took about 35 minutes, though I wasn't timing it, ballots were not confusing. More info at my post linked above. ~brian
PS- best reason to vote if you're not in a swing state: if the electoral college doesn't follow the popular vote, you want the difference to be as large as possible as to have the most inertia reform the system!

Danny SullivanNov 02, 2004 at 12:07PM

My wife and I both live in the UK and are registered out of California. Back in August, I got notice that my absentee ballot would be coming. Nothing about my wife. Three emails to the SF voter registration department spread out over the weeks got no response.

My absentee ballot arrive in early October, I believe. Off it went. Meanwhile, my wife for whatever reason had lost her registration. It's complicated, when you are overseas, about how long they'll keep you on the polls. End of story -- she had to print a new registration document and request a ballot, then hope this would come in time.

Well, it didn't. We were notified she was registered in mid-October, but still no ballot. Apparently, we could fax in her vote if we really tried. Given we're both voting Kerry and California is exceedingly safe, it just wasn't worth the extra effort. Now if he loses by one vote, then you can come after us.

End of story -- voting from outside the US suck, and it always does. Heck, San Francisco still thinks my residence is a place I lived in 7 years ago. If that's where you last lived, that stays on your record forever -- and sometimes, things may go there, as well.

I dream of a day when I can vote electronically. Yeah, maybe. But as an overseas American, I'm pretty used to being disenfranchised. The census department, for example, doesn't count us. My "local" reps in California don't really care about our unique issues. What I'd love is for all of us overseas to have our own representative that we could vote for. At least they'd have incentive to make the voting process for us easier.

Kat A.Nov 02, 2004 at 12:12PM

I live and vote in what I suspect (from your old osil8 photographs) might possibly be in or near your old neighborhood, Jason -- Seward, in Minneapolis. Polling place was the high-rise at Minnehaha and 22nd, right up the street from Coastal Seafood. It was *jammed* at 7 a.m., but everything went smoothly, and everyone was in high good humor. There was a guy at the door with some general info on how to handle possible challenges, but nobody was doing any challenging--probably smart, since anyone attempting such in this precinct would likely be gang-tackled and beaten with a granola bar.

Can't speak to registration, since I've been continuously registered since 1972, but I hear the Republicans are planning to challenge students at the U. We'll see how that goes.

JeremyNov 02, 2004 at 12:19PM

The waiting in line process was bad. There were 2 lines: A-I and J-Z. A-I's line (which I had the displeasure of occupying) extended out the door and around the building. J-Z's line was 2 or 3 people at its longest.

The actual voting process went smoothly - we had touch screens that were very easy to follow.

ErikNov 02, 2004 at 12:24PM

Voted this morning in Wisconsin, one of the battleground states, in Madison. Went to my local polling place at 6:50am, polls open at 7am. I was the 249 person in line. I diidn't get in to the voting booth untill 8:10.

I saw the line initally and thought 'This will take HOURS!' But the line moved pretty quickly. I am glad I did it this morning, because they think with the record turnout that 500 people could still be in line at 8pm when the polls close. But they still get to vote, which could lead to a long time before we know who wins Wisconsin.

BTW, we use the connect two arrows with a special black pen optical type ballots

Swami PremNov 02, 2004 at 12:25PM

I was not mailed my polling place 10 days prior to the 2004 Election like they were suppose to do. I had to go online and find my place. When I got to the place, they told me I had to go to another polling place. This upset me, because I thought the Internet polling locator offered by Arizona's Recorder would be accurate. It was not!

On the plus side, the election officials at both polling places were friendly, helpful and informative. This made the actual voting process painless.

It was easy to vote, and the design and setup of the actual ballot left room for no mistakes on what you were voting for. When I was finished, they allowed me to put my ballot in the machine, and it showed that my votes were counted.

Mike FNov 02, 2004 at 12:29PM

Writing from suburban South Jersey (Gloucester County). I showed up at the polls about 6:15 (they opened at 6), and the parking lot at the municipal building was pretty busy. I had glanced at my district number before showing up, which was good, as lines were broken out by district. I had one person in line ahead of me to sign the book of names, and again one in front of me to use the voting booth. I was #13 in my district that morning, which strikes me as pretty good before 6:30 AM. I was in and out in 5 minutes.

The voting machines were electronic, but not precisely touch-screen. Instead, the surface of the voting booth looked like a giant ballot, pre-printed on plastic. There were blinking green lights next to the name of each race -- once you voted in a race by pressing the box containing the person's name, the blinking green light went away, and a solid green X appeared next to the box. Once finished, you registered your votes by pressing the big red "Vote" button down at the bottom.

Two UI problems that I could see:

1) It would have been nice to have a visible indicator that said "You have voted in all races" or some such. I spent as much time double-checking to see if I missed something, as I did voting. Or more. Alternatively, you could get a flag or a 2-step confirmation if you haven't voted in all races. (Perhaps they have this, I don't know.)

2) It would have been good to have some feedback that you have successfully voted other than the machine going dark. I heard several people there saying, "Have I voted now?"

Otherwise, pretty uneventful -- I am sure that it was a mob scene by 8 AM, though.

pbNov 02, 2004 at 12:31PM

In our rural suburb of Boston, the voting went the way it has for as long as I've lived there: 10 years. There are some 1500 registered voters in town, so voting tends to happen either in the morning as people are on their way to work or in the evening when they're on their way home.

The trickiest part is finding a parking space in the Town Hall lot, but since voting is quick, someone is usually pulling out just as you need the space.

You climb the stairs to the second floor of Town Hall (there's only one precinct in town) where the registrars, all wearing cheerful red aprons, check you in by street address. When they find your name, they cross it out with a red pencil and hand you a fill-in-the-oval ballot. If you want, you can take a "privacy sleeve."

There were about a dozen and a half boothlets equipped with black markers and instructions ("Don't place children on shelves.") We had, in addition to the Presidential and Congressional questions, local state senate and house, sheriff, and a non-binding referendum question.

After you mark your ballot, you head to the checkout table where another registrar crosses your name off the list to indicate you've voted. A friendly policeman watches as you feed your ballot into the scanning machine.

The only problem I encountered is that some people where going down the up staircase.

Mike WarotNov 02, 2004 at 12:33PM

Long time voter, but for some reason both my wife and my names had "inactive status" flags on them. We simply filled in our street address, signed, and were permitted to vote normally.
The vote machines are fairly low tech (reliable?) "Microvote" boxes I've been used to voting on. The process seems simple and efficient.
We didn't have to wait in line, and everyone was friendly, at 7:00 AM in Hammond, Indiana.

turbanheadNov 02, 2004 at 12:36PM

I am voting after work today and am looking forward to it. I work at a University and we are doing an informal polling station for students, asking them to fill out "voting cards" at the same time handing out red-white-and-blue paraphenalia. There's a tv with continuing coverage on it in the room this is taking place in (although it is now showing FOX coverage). I will be staffing the room from 2 - 3 p.m. and plan to turn the channel to a more fair and balanced station.

I am giddy with anticpation on the prospect of voting today and have taken tomorrow off - to celebrate if Kerry wins or to sulk if Bush wins!


VivianNov 02, 2004 at 12:39PM

Surpisingly hostile to the elderly and probably disenfranchising anyone in a wheel chair (or any claustrophobes), the voting station in the Silver Towers at LaGuardia and Houston Street in Manhattan is accessible via a narrow stairway that serves as entry AND exit, plus there's no hand rail. The line at 10:30am was long as most people don't know their district and wait to have it looked up. The machines have toggle switches, and a big handle to register them when you're done. Someone in line mentioned that there were places in Harlem using paper ballots.

MikeNov 02, 2004 at 12:46PM

I voted this morning at our neighborhood's usual polling place, the local real estate office. Consistancy counts. Every few elections, this office isn't available, so they move it to a nearby church. I prefer the real estate office over the church for the same reason that somebody else mentioned: no creepy literature lying around. The parking situation is better at the church though, and I guess the real estate people have their own forms of creepy literature.

I brought my daughter with me so she could observe the process. No lines at all, but there were a steady stream of voters going in and out. The California ballot is loaded with propositions as usual, so you would expect people to take some time to go through it, but most of the people at the polls this morning seemed to be marking their ballots in rapid fire mode. We use the InkaVote system here, where you fill in the bubble using a felt tip pen poker thingy. You compress the spring to make the pen tip have contact with the ballot. I noticed that sometimes it didn't leave a mark even though I pressed down firmly. Bottom line, you have to check and make sure your ballot is marked. After voting, a poll worker takes your ballot and drops it in the ballot box. Sounds like in other places they scan your ballot on the spot. I'll bet that accounts for a lot of the slowness and subsequent lineup. The poll worker handed me an 'I voted' sticker. Gave my daughter one too, which made me happy. I was kinda disappointed that there were no exit pollsters outside this time.

chowderNov 02, 2004 at 12:50PM

i sent for an absentee ballot about two months ago and just go it the thursday before the election. i decided it was too late to mail and dropped it off, completed, at my local library where they held early voting. i was in and out in 10 minutes.

Liz LawleyNov 02, 2004 at 12:52PM

My voting experience this fall was unchanged from past years. There were a few more cars in the parking lot of the middle school, but no lines to speak of inside the building.

There was some brief confusion when I was directed to the wrong table (they'd apparently split the odd and even numbers on our street on different tables, and I was sent to the wrong one first), but that was cleared up before I could even think about a provisional ballot.

I voted, as I have for the past 24 years, in a mechanical voting booth with old-fashioned levers--and took a photo of it that I posted on my blog, along with a brief narrative describing the process and my decision-making process.

No problems, no hassles, no intimidation. But I'm not exactly in a hotly-contested area (upstate NY), so I'm not surprised.

RichardNov 02, 2004 at 12:53PM

I live in a small town of 1,300 people in rural NW Connecticut. I've voted here for over ten years and it has always been a pleasant and easy process.

The polling place is in the basement of our town hall.

We have two mechanical voting machines (no paper trail... ugh) and I don't like the design of them but I'm used to them.

I have never found a line at our polling place although I always vote in the early morning.

On a table as you enter is a mock-up of what you will see inside the voting booth and a volunteer to answer questions about how the machine works.

Most of the volunteers are older folks in our town who I've come to know (as I run our town's web site) and even though many are on a different side of the policical tracks from me, I admire the work they do. They take working the polling place very seriously, as should anyone doing that job.

I've done poll volunteering before and I recommend everyone reading this work polls as you can help the process by making people feel comfortable in what can be an intimidating process for people with literacy or ESL or other issues that make the rigidity of this process harder than it needs to be.

Connecticut is generally a Democratic state but unfortunately, the NW corner where I live is solid Republican. I'm on our town Democratic Caucus although out of 850 voters here we number less than 200 Democrats.

My wish, no matter who wins today (or whenver it's decided) is that we start a serious movement to get rid of the Electoral College; an antiquated system that makes us the laughing stock of the rest of the world.

ChrisNov 02, 2004 at 12:55PM

I waited until mid-morning, and the line was minimal. There were about a dozen people there, voting. The lady two people in front of me had her ballot rejected because she had folded it. They eventually sent her back to the booth to redo it. The man in front of me was turning in his second, as there had been problems with his too.

The ballots were the same as they had been for about three or four elections now. You use a black marker pen (provided) and fill in the middle section of an arrow pointing to your choice. I marked mine according to my plans and it went into the counting machine, without problem.

The whole thing took about 20 minutes.

From South Phoenix, Arizona.

mary hodderNov 02, 2004 at 12:56PM

I voted three weeks ago via absentee ballot, in CA. Fill in the dots with a blue or black pen. Didn't see any major UI issues, except that the ballot was obscenely long requiring about 3 hours to read everything including the state pamphlet, and various other information, in order to make decent choices.

The situation here with propositions is ridiculous. Okay, we were the idiots who voted in term limits, causing state reps to perenially be junior and therefore creating a situation where lobbiests have lots of power to 'educate' the representatives, so we only have ourselves to blame there.

And then we put all the hard stuff on the ballot as a proposition. Which means that every voter is forced to reconcile these issues. I'm busy enough that after voting for national and local offices, I honestly thought about blowing off the props. But I couldn't do it. So I dove into a couple of hours of reading and decisions. It seems an utterly ridiculous way to govern the state, and pass laws that really need much better review and consideration, no matter how corrupt people feel reps or lobbists are. I don't think we voters are doing a better job with this, ill-informed about the complexity of issues and behind the scenes dealings, the often poorly written, considered and conflicting language and the mass media campaign used to sway voters.

It's a mess. And we keep digging deeper holes for ourselves.

ClampantsNov 02, 2004 at 1:00PM

My voting went ok...the one mistake came when I missed the turn into the proper high-school parking lot (I recently moved from Cambridge MA to the BURBS)...so I parked in what I assume was the main high school lot. I got to make my way through the early-morning high-school throngs, and realized that I hadn't been inside a highschool for 10-years...it was very bizarre: full of backpacks, lockers, cliques, cool kids, nerdy loners, etc.

The voting process was surprisingly smooth. There was some confusion after lining up because in the voting room (out of sight of the line) the line broke up based on your street name. Once inside, simple fill-in-the-oval-with-marker ballots, manned by several nice, smiling old ladies and one local police officer. 90% of the ballot were races consisting of one person running uncontested.

And at the end, I got a legally binding sticker proving that I, indeed, voted.

kellyNov 02, 2004 at 1:01PM

I voted in Chapel Hill, NC, and it was easy as pie. Beat the lunch rush to the polls and walked right in. They ask for ID (specifically proof of address) and you sign in. The format is paper ballots, with an arrow that you connect beside the candidate you're voting for. The only tricky part is that if you're voting a straight ticket in NC, you have to vote for for the presidential race separately -- but there were lots of minders on hand to make sure people were aware of this. Fifteen minutes and a sticker later, I was done.

Yay for easy democracy.

Andy BaioNov 02, 2004 at 1:01PM

We voted shortly after the polls opened at 7am this morning in Santa Monica. The lines were very long, and we waited about 45 minutes to enter a small room in the lobby of seniors' apartment complex.

My wife had registered to vote a couple weeks before the registration deadline and received her sample ballot a week ago, but she wasn't on the list, so had to vote provisional. (She can find out if her vote was counted in six weeks, which seems excessive.)

We voted with a new ink-punch system (pushing a pen through holes to mark up a Scantron-style sheet), and it went quickly and easily enough. We checked our ballots and it checked out fine. I dropped mine in the ballot box, and my wife put her provisional ballot in the big signed envelope and handed it off.

vanderwalNov 02, 2004 at 1:01PM

My got to the polls 45 minutes before they opened and she was 10th in line. By the time I got there at 8:30 there were 275 people inline outside the polling place (a place that has never had a line out the door). In all it was about 90 minutes in line. This was in Bethesda, Maryland. This is the longest line I have seen since I started voting in the 1984 election.

The voting was on Diebold machines, which have a horrible interface as correcting a vote is really not clear. There were not paper versions of what I voted on, nor was it clear on the page that allowed corrections, what was voted on in the ballot measures. They are miserable machines.

lisa mNov 02, 2004 at 1:06PM

No problems in Westchester county. I went at about 8:15, there were more people than I've seen at that polling place before, but only waited a few minutes. I expect it will be a zoo tonight after work. I was not asked for anything besides my name: no ID, no verification of any kind. There was a digital scan of my signature, and I just had to sign in the empty space next to it.

Given that I have to show a photo ID to get into the Rockefeller Center building where my dentist is, something feels not right about that!

As in much of NY, the booths were the the creaky old ones with the metal levers & the big crank to register it & open the curtain.

jjudgeNov 02, 2004 at 1:14PM

Voting was not a problem at all in Chicago, short lines within my precint. I'm am still dumbfounded as to why we use ballots instead of a touchscreen computer. Silly silly silly....

JP ReardonNov 02, 2004 at 1:15PM

I'm a long time voter and have voted several times in this precinct, so I didn't expect too many surprises. I was a little disappointed that I did not receive a voter's guide as I had in the past, and finding New York City ballot information online was not as easy as it should have been. I arrived at my polling place (34th & 2nd) at around 8:30 this morning and joined the line. The long line was slightly discouraging at first, but it moved fairly well and the other voters seemed to be in good spirits. Once inside the polling place, I was able to move directly to my precinct's check-in table where there were only two people waiting in front of me. The poll workers were very polite even though they were quite busy. The worker that was checking me in had no trouble finding my name in the book nor did she have any problem finding the few other people I saw sign in. New York City uses the older, lever machines which can sometimes be confusing to use, but at least you can double check your choices before you pull the lever. Overall, this was a good voting experience. My advice to other New Yorkers heading out to vote today is not to be discouraged if you see a line. You've probably stood in much longer lines for less important things.

Edward VielmettiNov 02, 2004 at 1:16PM

Voted in Ann Arbor, MI in a precinct with quite a few student voters. It took 50 minutes start to finish. While I was picking up my ballot there was one student who was being challenged by an "election challenger" to prove residency; there was a knot of poll workers and voter rights people around him, all very civil.

ben.Nov 02, 2004 at 1:17PM

Here in the deep south (Columbia, SC) lines are horrible. We just switched from butterfly ballots to electronic, and where we had twenty or more of the old style, we only have five or six of the new kind. No early voting, so it's all one big push. I waited an hour and a half, others about the same, I've not heard of anyone waiting less. One person was in line for three hours, I've gotten second hand stories of four hours waits. On the whole, things were going smoothly, except that the a/c was off in the school I voted in, and some of the older folks in the crowd were starting to wear down. Still, everyone was friendly, and no yelling or anything. Hope they get the air on before the afternoon heat kicks in. (yes that's still an issue here)

My one outside thought was that the system seems to still work, it's just the people we're putting in are broken. I live in a hard-core GOP area, but everyone was friendly and even willing to joke about the whole mess. I don't think the population is the problem here.

alan taylorNov 02, 2004 at 1:19PM

The process for me was simple, quaint even. This is the first time I've voted in this town (recently moved to a small Massachusetts town). I entered, there were hardly any people around, and was handed a paper ballot. I unfolded it, and saw candidated names and boxes. To vote, I literally drew an "X" in the box next to the name(s). I handed my paper ballot to a stern older gentleman, who hand-cranked it into a wooden box.

I have to say, when I drew my "X" next to Kerry's name, it was cathartic, emotional even. Four years of disappointment, aggravation, and sadness - all tempered by the thought: "in 2004 I can vote against Bush again". Reflexively, I thought of my kids too, that it was one of the most powerful things I could do for them as well. I know, that sounds schmaltzy, and MA is hardly a swing state, but it really meant a lot to me, hopefully it does to many others too.

HilaryNov 02, 2004 at 1:20PM

Location: Lower Manhattan (possibly the same venue as Charlie, 9:17AM)
I overheard a poll worker telling a voter that they "hadn't had time to put up signs" identifying which line you were supposed to be in based on the first letter of your last name. Because of this, people stood in one long snaky line only to find out when they reached the front that their A through M last name sent them to the back of another line in which they could have already been standing...if there had only been a sign.

One of the two mechanical booths was closed. A guy wearing a football jersey came and poked at it, made calls on his cell phone, then filled out a report saying the machine was in working order and had a poll inspector sign the report (this all happened at the table next to where I was standing). The second machine was opened for voters. I was immensely relieved to be sent to the booth that had been operating all along and for which the number had been written on my voter card, because I suspect I if I'd been sent to the other, I'd have been nervous as to the validity of my vote.

v-twinNov 02, 2004 at 1:25PM

i voted in indiana, using an es&s ivotronic touch screen system. i went at 9:30am, which i would guess is a fairly slow time of day: after work starts but before the lunch crowd. the whole process took about an hour. a poll worker said the wait time at 6am was an hour or more.

user experience: my misgivings about accuracy and trustworthiness aside, i found the process straightforward. the confirmation step was potentially confusing, however. first, the voter views a summary screen of all her votes. if it's accurate, she's supposed to press an illuminated plastic "VOTE" button at the top of the machine. she then has to look back down at the touch screen, touch an on-screen "Cast Ballot" button, and wait for a "thank you" screen.
- at least one person walked off without confirming his vote; a poll worker flagged him down and brought him back to finish.
- user instruction was inconsistent when i was there. two poll workers were guiding voters over to touch screens and preparing the machines. one worker gave detailed instructions to each voter; the other essentially said, "ok, you're ready; just ask if you have any questions."
- at one point, a system had three poll workers congregated around it trying to resolve a problem.

"i did everything [the system] asked, but it wouldn't let me out!"
"they should have a demo system you can try here." (with the previous punch card method, there was always a working demo booth set up to try while waiting in line.)
two comments expressing dissatisfaction about the lack of a voter-verified paper trail.

a note about indiana: due to the inscrutable distribution of time zones here, broadcast tv networks manage to misinform potential voters, year after year. one network announces that all polls have closed across the state an hour before they actually have (in the non-EST areas), and the others follow suit. i've seen this happen in every november election i've witnessed, and i have no doubt that it impacts the election; anyone tuning into these networks to find out if they still have time to vote in affected areas is given incorrect information. i urge anyone living in indiana who wants the correct information disseminated to potential voters to contact the news directors of abc, cbs, fox and nbc.

SteveInMaineNov 02, 2004 at 1:25PM

Our polls here in rural Maine opened at 6 a.m. In elections past there have been very few voters at that hour. Today, however there were 25 people ahead of us in line at 5:50 a.m. waiting to cast their ballot.

The only hitch was low tech: we use paper ballots that have connect-the-lines to make an arrow. Somehow they didn't manage to have enough pens.

DanNov 02, 2004 at 1:28PM

Voted a couple hours after the polls opened here in Berkeley. It was easy. In fact, the whole time I've been in this precinct, 16 years, we've never had a problem (though in 2000 we had a very long wait due mostly to voters' unfamiliarity with the new Diebold machines at the polling place and the length of our ballot today).

Anyway, no lines this morning (different from the neighboring precinct a few blocks away, where I saw about 25 people lined up). No problem with the ballot. The poll workers were great. Of course, one of them is my son. On a break, he told me that he was surprised at the number of people requesting paper provisional ballots, which here you mark the old-fashioned way, with an X in the appropriate box. People -- a few of them, anyway -- really are nervous about the machines.

AJNov 02, 2004 at 1:29PM

In Chicago I headed down to a local bar and punched a paper ballot. Everyone was polite and friendly, it seemed organized, and there was zero wait time (at 10:30am).

I really hate punching the paper ballots, though - and for those with poor eyesight, they must be really difficult to read.

Ray GrieselhuberNov 02, 2004 at 1:30PM

No problems in Del Mar - of course we vote in the garage of some guy's house with a line of three people.

It's a paper punch system complete with chads but I think I managed to vote for the right guy.

Cherie PriestNov 02, 2004 at 1:31PM

I voted in a heavily Democrat, largely minority precinct -- and we were all expecting trouble. But the vote went surprisingly well.


David Y.Nov 02, 2004 at 1:33PM

I'm from Kentucky (Louisville) and voting here was really easy. They have polling places everywhere. I walked in, voted, and walked out. No line at all, but that may change later in the day, I went in the morning.

Personally, I wish there would have been a handout or something detailing how exactly our vote is counted. Like who it goes to, who reports it and that type of thing. But this is my first time voting so maybe I'm supposed to know that already?

j.s.f.Nov 02, 2004 at 1:33PM

I went down to vote at my local firehouse, got into the booth and pulled the lever to close the hideous curtain. To vote on these machines, you pull down a very small lever next to each name (displaying a red X underneath). When you're done, you pull the big lever and that's it. Was it counted? Who knows.

kevinNov 02, 2004 at 1:36PM

Voted in St. Paul, Minn. with my wife around 11:15 a.m., short line, whole process took about ten minutes. No problems.

Unless you consider the entire page of judicial candidates running unopposed. What's up with that?

Oh well, democracy in action.

AustinNov 02, 2004 at 1:36PM

Everything went smooth for me here in Carter county Tennessee. I had to wait in line for about 30 minutes and there did not seem to be anything fishy going on.

billNov 02, 2004 at 1:37PM

It went very easy. I walked across the street to the school, (9am, Maryland) signed my card, got the Deibold credit card thing, plugged it into the machine, and used the touchscreen to cast my vote. When I finished, I handed my credit card thing back to a guy with a badge and an "I Voted" sticker, and I was done.

Some gripes:
Diebold voting machines, with no paper receipt. What's with that credit card? Why can't the machine tally my vote?
The UI on the touchscreen was very counterintuitive. You'd think Diebold could have hired somebody to design it better. (The process of changing a selection seemed to be too hard; is there a better color/icon for "selected" than a red box with an "X"? And why did it have to be in MFC?)
What ever happened to curtained voting booths? I had a table with three very small dividers on each side.

Overall, though, it went very smoothly.

Stefan JonesNov 02, 2004 at 1:38PM

I sent in my vote-by-mail Oregon ballot almost two weeks ago.

Kind of anticlimactic.

This morning, I put out two batches of cookies in each of the cafeterias at work:

A basket, lined with red, white and blue table napkins, of fancy jumbo cookies labled "COOKIES FOR VOTERS."

A paper plate with artificially flavored vanilla wafers labled "COOKIES FOR PEOPLE WHO COULD VOTE BUT DIDN'T"

I strongly suspect that there will be a lot of vanilla wafers around at the end of the day.

Maybe I'll make one of those desserts with them.

andreaNov 02, 2004 at 1:39PM

fast inka-voting (ink dots instead of cahd punching) here in koreatown, los angeles. went around 10:30 in the morning. the old school gym was filled with old korean and latino couples, holding hands and walking to the ballot boxes together.

the only thing is i didn't get back the top part of the ballot like i did in the last (municipal) elections (but i did get the "i voted" sticker, yay) that says the date of the elections and that's about it i think. i watched the poll people take off the top part and drop both parts (the top blank part and the bottom actual voting part) into the ballot box.

the place was pretty full and lots of good feelings. also, signs all around in english, spanish, korean, vietnamese and, i think, tagalog. i love l.a.

David (someone stole my Solex)Nov 02, 2004 at 1:42PM

Voted at a methodist church on the eastside of Austin @ 10 am...NO WAIT AT ALL! I voted on a scroll wheel computer ballot, very simple and user friendly. Some old senior citizens inside had a bake sale, and whatever they had in the crockpot smelled amazing. The experience was so swift, it was as if I lived in a town of 70. I was actually surprised at the lack of people, but I'm confident from reports that everyone's been getting their vote out, and that can only mean good things (great things) for man Kerry.

elrNov 02, 2004 at 1:43PM

Long time voter, ten+ years at the precinct I voted in, so didn't expect trouble. However, there were people there to field problems and a short line of folks filling out paperwork (probably because they were not on the roles). Outside the pollling place, a volunteer asked me (and everyone else exiting) if we had any trouble. Longest lines I've ever seen there, but still not bad. I waited until after 9:30am, to avoid the early pre-work crowd.

Ok, I live in Massachusetts, our final tally can pretty much be guessed, but I still feel (and have always felt) that my vote counts. I can cast a protest vote for a third party candidate if I choose (the first national vote I ever cast was for John Anderson) or throw my vote behind the major party candidate of my choice. I cannot fathom why some folks do not vote, it is our most fundamental right and responsibility as US citizens. It baffles me that so many people don't bother. There are always local issues to be decided too. Here, in my precinct, we're having a heated write-in run off between an incumbant and a newcomer who bested him in the primary. That's what it's all about folks. Get out there and do it, you'll be glad you did.

Dave TomlinsonNov 02, 2004 at 1:44PM

I voted in Dallas last week on a Tuesday after work. There were several hundred people in line, and I ended up waiting for over an hour to cast my vote. Things went smoothly, and the folks running the polling location were very informative and enthusiastic. Texas has implemented electronic voting machines, making a vote along party lines very easily done, but I found myself wanting a paper printout to take home with me. When I was finished, all I received was an electronic "Thank You" from the machine, which kind of made me nervous.

michaelNov 02, 2004 at 1:48PM

I dropped off my absentee ballot this morning at the polling place across the street from my house in Berkeley. There was a pretty long line -- looked to be about thirty people queued up -- and there was a reasonable amount of normal polling place chaos inside.

"What's your last name again?"
"How do you spell that?"
"Ah, here you are."
"No, that's not me. I'm /that/ one."
"Oh. OK."

Not sure if you can do this everywhere in the states, but here in Alameda county you can vote absentee and then drop off your ballot at any polling place in the county. It''s the best of both worlds... I spent Sunday afternoon reading through candidate bios and initiative descriptions, with a browser near by for any related research, and then this morning got to visit the local polling place, drop my ballot into the slot and pick up the de rigeur "I voted" sticker.

My father in law, who's pretty much the political opposite of me, is in town visiting. Which should make tonight's talking-head-watching interesting. But we did agree on one thing this morning -- the entire process of registering to vote and voting should be made muuuuuuch simpler. A boy can dream, but I'm hoping that the shenanigans re. voter challenges that are happening this year will create some impetus for voter reg reform. The entire process is screaming for simplicity.

markNov 02, 2004 at 1:52PM

Oregon is all 100% mail-in ballots. Voted 10/16 with three boys 6/8/11 following along, talking about all the issue, even gay marriage. Oregon is expecting up to a 84.2% turn-out. Mail-in balloting is wonderful.

Sue MorganNov 02, 2004 at 1:52PM

My main comment would be arrrgh!

I didn't need to register, as I did that many many more years ago than most of the readers here have been alive. Being a military wife for eons, I've always voted absentee. We are out now, and we live in our own house, in a single state, in a single town. I went down to the local registration place to be sure I was on their lists for residency ~ MONTHS ago.

I checked more than twice with those people. They always gave me those "WHY are you here again" looks, and especially thought I was nuts when I checked again just last month (October 5). I suppose I am just to used to the government to let it go...

Guess what? Turned out that I was not on their "list" after all. I didn't get a mail in ballot either. I ended up doing a provisional vote, and four signatures later, I finally got my ballot. Dutifully marked the little ovals, put it in the unmarked envelope, signed the outer one, and dropped it into a non descript manila envelope with three other poor people that didn't exsist today either.

Just means when my vote is actually counted, I just might be the deciding vote here in my rather inept county in little old Washington State.

Now wouldn't THAT be funny!?!

As a side note, my parents went with me, they have been voting since the 1940s ~ they both commented that they hadn't seen that many people at the polls in a very long time. While we were waiting in line, MY children showed up ~ we had three generations there all at once. Pretty sweet, eh?? The "next" generation is stepping up admirably and taking an interest in where we as a country go now. I came home feeling a lot better about a whole lot of things.


Chris GlassNov 02, 2004 at 1:53PM

Cincinnati: Today.

Kerry signs lined the roads downtown. 10 minute wait in city center. Paper ballots. Very confusing with so many judges running unopposed. Had to get a new one. Folks were friendly. Some heavy state and local issues being decided upon this go round. Likelihood of progressive outcomes low for those, fingers crossed for the presidential race.

Thanks for all the information you've posted.

TonyNov 02, 2004 at 1:55PM

In Oregon, we have the mail-in ballots so I got mine about a week prior to the election, filled it out and then dropped it off at an unofficial drop box site that was inside a Kerry-Edwards booth the University of Oregon's College Democrats set up. They gave me a paper receipt which is required for unofficial sites, so I like the paper trail showing that I did cast my ballot.


(Just read the comment above mine; Oregon rocks!)

BenNov 02, 2004 at 1:56PM

Voting was quick and easy in Tarrytown, NY. In at 7:15, out by 7:30. One voting booth, old-school mechanical, and it was all very easy. They didn't seem to really check my ID however, which was.. interesting.

steven voreNov 02, 2004 at 2:05PM

No major problems here in Alpharetta (Atlanta suburb) GA. Details on my weblog but the short version is that we used the no-paper-trail touch-screen machines, nothing appeared wrong other than the longer-than-normal lines and not having enough workers to cover provisional voter hiccups.

DavidNov 02, 2004 at 2:06PM

Voting went well, and I didn't even show up until 12:30pm. The workers were confused as to which district I was in, but that was cleared up in no time at all.

Disheartening to see all the candidates running unopposed, but it's a small, conservative city.

poll trollNov 02, 2004 at 2:17PM

Best Poll for undecided Voters;

Since 1956, Weekly Reader students in grades 1-12 have correctly picked the president


Weekly Reader kids select Bush in Presidential Poll

The students who read Weekly Reader’s magazines have made their preference for President known: they want to send President Bush back to the White House.

The results of this year’s Weekly Reader poll have just been announced, and the winner is President Bush. Hundreds of thousands of students participated, giving the Republican President more than 60% of the votes cast and making him a decisive choice over Democratic Senator John Kerry.

Since 1956, Weekly Reader students in grades 1-12 have correctly picked the president, making the Weekly Reader poll one of the most accurate predictors of presidential outcomes in history.

Rob BeckerNov 02, 2004 at 2:21PM

Voted about 8am this morning, in the Bronx, NY. The site was a little disorganized in that their were two districts being represented, but only one line was formed. Several people (including me) got to the front of the line and then were then told we were at the wrong table and had to go form a new line at the other table which was in the back of the voting location, and so not visible when we entered.

Even with this delay, I was in and out in about 20 minutes since their were only a handful of people there. We used the old switch and lever machines (I always get a thrill out of pulling the big red lever).

The biggest suprise for me was that their was a uniformed police officer standing by and watching the proceedings. I've never voted in the Bronx before, so I don't know if that's normal practice, but its something I've never seen (or at least noticed) at other locations before.

MeaganNov 02, 2004 at 2:21PM

In center city Philadelphia I waited about 40 minutes and there were many more people in line than normal, it was nice to see so many neighbors. Part of the wait was caused by the site was not handicap accessible and the person in front of me was in a wheelchair.

brianNov 02, 2004 at 2:24PM

I will echo the positive statements (above) about the voting process in Oregon, and add that the voter informational phamplets that are sent out with every ballot are very helpful. They contain information about every candidate, and measure on the ballot -- with for and against arguments.

adamNov 02, 2004 at 2:33PM

smooth vote for me- i live in alameda county in CA, which has electronic machines. I went around 11 AM, there were maybe 5 people in line ahead of me. i requested a paper ballot, was handed one with no fuss or challenge, and directed to a booth (2 writing booths vs 6 e-booths) to fill in my choices. I kept my stub, put the ballot in the box and got an "i voted" sticker like everyone else. ironically i am a major geek gadget-head, but for this election, i want a paper trail for my ballot. Couldn't have been smoother for me, i'll be checking later tonight to make sure my ballot was counted tho.

BillSaysThisNov 02, 2004 at 2:37PM

My wife and I had to wait an hour--this is in Mountain View, CA--and our polling place never had more than two or three people in front of me before. We used the electronic machines, same as had been in place in the March primaries, and they worked fine, simple touch screen interface. No one was challenging anybody on the right to vote that we could see.

Jason WallNov 02, 2004 at 2:43PM

I arrived at 6:05, five minutes after voting opened in the Central West End, Saint Louis, MO. Took 30 mins to get to the polls. I had problems because my change of address hadn't gone though, (i moved two months ago), but I voted via provisional ballot.

Voting personel were very nice, quite helpful. The line was out the door by the time I left.

wesNov 02, 2004 at 2:48PM

No wait at all (Village of Green Island, New York). A phalanx of official-looking voting officials sitting at a table, regarding me with serious miens in a poorly lit room. A moderately confusing, mechanical voting machine. Once inside the machine with the curtain drawn, the first thing I noticed was a confusing matrix of small levers and labels, with each candidate's name appearing more than once in columns. The rows of the matrix were apparently for parties, because I saw rows labeled "Rebpublican" and "Democrat" but I also saw bizarre row labels such as "Workingmen of America" or somesuch. The columns were apparently the offices up for election. Thus, if a candidate for a particular office was endorsed by more than one party, his name would appear multiple times in the same column, once in each row corresponding to the party endorsing him. Before I made my vote, I had to emerge from the curtains and get one of the voting officials to clarify this for me, because I wanted to make sure I understood how it worked. As stupid as it sounds, I wanted to make sure that my vote for a given candidate whose name appeared in multiple rows would count no matter which row's lever I pulled for that candidate.

ColleenNov 02, 2004 at 2:50PM

Things went remarkably well here (L.A., K-town adjecent). I was able to hit the polling place at around 10am, post-rush, and there was zero line for "N - Z" (for once, it paid to be at the end of the alphabet).

There seemed to be moderate confusion over the ink-dauber doohickey (lots of calls for replacement ballots), but overall, the volunteers were doing a bang-up job keeping things moving.

Thanks for doing this, BTW. Love seeing what's up with my voting brethren.

JeffwaNov 02, 2004 at 2:54PM

poll troll says:
Since 1956, Weekly Reader students in grades 1-12 have correctly picked the president, making the Weekly Reader poll one of the most accurate predictors of presidential outcomes in history.

Since 1936, theoutcome of the Washington Redskin's last home game has determined the winner of the presidential election. Redskins win, incumbant party wins. Redskins lose, challengers win the White House.


JeffwaNov 02, 2004 at 2:55PM

And the kids only picked it right 11 out of 12 times.

David AchilleusNov 02, 2004 at 2:55PM

St. Louis, MO

Day started with my daughter (6) waking up and announcing that today was the day mommy and daddy choose a new president. We discussed voting and what would happen.

Voting was smooth and uneventful (after going home to get my forgotten wallet for ID purposes). My wife and I took our kids with us to a local library where a small room was converted from storytime to voting time.

(my son was not happy about that)

Saw nothing suspicious, in fact, was very happy with how well it went. Unfortunately, St. Louis was a hotspot for fraud back in 2000, but we are now living outside the precincts where this is likely to happen again.

We use punch cards - I checked for chads. Much older crowd (60+) while we were there. We live in a large first and second generation Bosnian immigrant neighborhood - wonder how they did...?

Thanks Jason, what a great opportunity to extend our perceptions of this election and the voting process.


SteveNov 02, 2004 at 2:57PM

No real problems, though I did have trouble finding where inside the local church I need to go to vote. The other thing that surprised me was that they still use punch-card ballots here in Centre County, PA. Fortunately they aren't of the butterfly variety and didn't give me any problems.

JuliaNov 02, 2004 at 3:04PM

Was the 184th voter for my district at noon (1-4, Jamestown, NY) which is VERY good. No problems at the polls although this was the first time I had to "wait" in line. There were 2 people ahead of me. We use the lever pull machines (I think that's what they're called) where there's a paper print out at the end of the night. Polls open until 9pm in NY.

jkottkeNov 02, 2004 at 3:10PM

As Meg and I walked over to our polling place, we saw Wes Anderson sitting on a bench. When we got there, the line ahead of us consisted of about 5 people. We told one man our address and he sent us to a table for our district. Once there, we told a woman our names, we had to sign a sheet (which had a copy of my signature from the registration form right there), then a gentleman showed us into the voting booth. Pulled the red lever to the right, twiddled some knobs, and cranked the lever back to the left. Took about 5 minutes all together. Couldn't find any "I voted" stickers. :(

MattNov 02, 2004 at 3:12PM

I voted this afternoon at 1:30 in Decatur, GA. It only took about 5 minutes.

There was an elderly woman with a walker in the booth next to me. She had a lot of questions about the voting machine (Diebold), but the poll workers were very helpful and patient.

They told me that turnout was very heavy.

TiaNov 02, 2004 at 3:20PM

Took all of 5 minutes in a medium size Baptist church in the northwest suburbs of Atlanta, GA. We had electronic voting which was pretty easy to get through. The attendants were a mix of old (60+) and young (teenagers).

Overall, a great experience and I feel pretty good in my "I'm a Georgia Voter" sticker!

emmaNov 02, 2004 at 3:22PM

Nobody in my office got an "I voted" sticker, either. I guess New York is too cool for stickers this year.

ChrisNov 02, 2004 at 3:23PM

My registered home address is a small town in PA outside of the capital, Harrisburg. Because I'm a full time student at Philadelphia I had to get an absentee ballet. I don't know if you've been following PA's snafu with Nader but basically he held up the absentee ballets for quite a while. I didn't get mine till last monday...they had to be received by this past Friday to be counted.

I know quite a few people in PA who have NOT gotten the ballets they requested or others who got them so late that it was basically impossible to get them in on time short of a late night, high speed drive to their voting district.

While I think PA will probably swing for Kerry, I have a bad feeling that the local and congressional candidates will get screwed over in the absentee fiasco here. Otherwise, the whole process was pretty easy for me.

Keith JenkinsNov 02, 2004 at 3:23PM

Voting was smooth and almost effortless in Northern Virginia this morning with plenty of poll worker-help available to those who needed it. But even at 6:20 a.m. there was a rather substantial line; I waited about 45 minutes to vote.

Once through the line, however, all went great with the touch screens used in this part of the state - there is a three step process which allows you to go back and make changes in case you make a mistake, and then it gives you a final 'are you sure?' screen before you cast your ballot.

MarkNov 02, 2004 at 3:24PM

I also voted in Georgia (Macon), we were in and out within 15 minutes.

essNov 02, 2004 at 3:29PM

Stood in line for three hours last week in early voting. Polling staff really took time with the confused and the elderly and did not physically remove the woman who spent the whole three hours calling her friends and family and asking how she should vote.

Went well, although I hate hate hate the "eSlate" Direct Recording Electronic voting system –there’s a spinning wheel that can easily spin you right past several pages. Fortunately, we have the Electoral College as a top-level report on the presidential voting process.

I actually care about several local races, so voting was fun even though my candidates will not win.

Voting for Kerry was easy because, if nothing else, it breaks up the Mob. Even if there was anything I liked about Bush, I would still cast a vote to keep The House, the Senate, and the White House on a different page.

Guessing that voting is heavy - not received even a one-line text message from friends who are working the polls or covering the election.

i_am_electroNov 02, 2004 at 3:29PM

Cleveland, Ohio - 9:00am EST

I live in the Ohio City area on the near west side of Cleveland, part of my precinct is quite gentrified, some of it is public housing. I got in line around 8:30 and the wait was about 45 minutes, I was a bit disconcerted that people were leaving because they had to work-- I've voted in this location 5 times in the last 4 years and have never scene lines before. I couldn't help but wonder if my friends in affluent suburbia had shorter lines, so I called some people in Bay Village and Westlake and found that they did have shorter lines (20 minutes and 25 minutes respectively.)

We had the old fashioned hanging chad punchcard votes, which I'm fine with as too many of the electronic voting devices sound like the need another couple of years in beta testing and less proprietary and more open source oriented solutions. I think neighboring Lake County was voting electronically.

The county poll workers were helpful, I was glad to see one of them put forth exceptional effort to assist a spanish-only speaking man who didn't know where he was registered and couldn't get a hold of the county board of elections to clarify his registration. They helped him out, had a translator, and got him to the right location.

No problems with challengers either, but I've heard some stories so far from the east side of town which indicates that others may have had some issues.

PaulNov 02, 2004 at 3:37PM

Voted this AM about a half mile from my house at around 7:45. There was a line of about 6 or 7 people and I got in and out within 20 minutes. But... I live in Orange County, CA and I felt a little like a Black man at a Klan rally - a little out of place politically. Lots of people definately voting for different people than I voted for. But it was painless and I love the new voting machines although I think that is the reason for some of the long lines - there are a lot of people that are timid with this new technology.

MindwalkerNov 02, 2004 at 3:43PM

My fiancee and I were definitely excited to vote. We both moved to the area (Evanston, which literally blends into Chicago) last year, so this was the first major election for us. The polling place was a Lutheran church about five minutes from our house. Had we not had to immediately leave for work, we even thought about walking.

The polls opened at 6 a.m. We got there at 6.05 and already there was a line of about 15-20 people ahead of us. Our next door neighbor was already there, so we had a pleasant conversation catching up with each other.

The overall impression I had was that everyone was very nice. People were talking with each other and chairs were provided for older folks who couldn’t stand for long periods of time. The mood was quiet, but definitely not somber. I think everyone knows how important this election is and was according it the appropriate level of respect.

When I got to the table, it took them a moment or two to locate my name in the rolls. In addition to our voter cards, my fiancee and I had come prepared with a plethora of identification (passport, pay stub, and utility bill), but thankfully our names were located. I noticed an older gentleman sitting quietly in the back with a list of names, checking off ours as our identities were confirmed. He didn’t look like a lawyer, so I asked if he was a “challenger.” With a gentle smile and a wink, he said he was a poll worker for the Democratic Party. The list he was keeping tabs of households who voted; those that didn’t would be visited halfway through the day in a last-ditch “get out the vote” effort.

The act of voting itself was actually rather anticlimatic. Illinois still uses the old-fashioned stylus and punch cards. To make sure I didn’t leave any hanging chads, I punched each choice twice. I voted for President and Senator quickly but thoroughly (just to make sure I voted correctly). I also happily voted for our local U.S. rep who’s up for reelection. I felt kind of sheepish, though, because I had no idea about the judges. There were five pages of balloting for judges and I admittedly did not know many of them. Next time, I will do better research ahead of time.

After voting, one of the poll workers led me over to a small electronic device with a slot. I was instructed NOT to let anyone else touch the ballot, otherwise it would be rendered invalid and I’d have to vote all over again. They fed my ballot into the slot and the electronic feeder verified my ballot was acceptable. A number flashed on a little LED signifying that I was the 16th ballot to be verified that day.

By the time we left, the line was extending back into the chuch. I counted at least 50 people already (it was only 6.30) and the rain had stopped.

ChrisNov 02, 2004 at 3:45PM

I voted by absentee ballot in Florida. My ballot was clearly designed, easy to understand. The only hitch was that I incorrectly started to bubble on one ballot initiative, then stopped myself, but the bubble was about 1/4 full. I called my elections office, however, and they told me to put an "X" through the option I did not want, and to initial and date it, and if there was a problem reading it then my intention would be clear. So hopefully that panned out; it does make me nervous that my whole ballot will be set aside and counted later.

I wish there were more resources devoted to educating people about nonpartisan races -- I wanted to cast an informed vote for the judicial nominees in my district, but my Googling didn't turn up all that much in the way of records, profiles, etc. You'd think that would be a priority, since those can be deceptively important positions and there's no party ID tag to give you even the faintest idea about the candidate's records...

jalbertNov 02, 2004 at 3:46PM

I live in Bothell, Washington, just north of Seattle. I moved a couple of months ago and haven't upgraded my registration to the new address. I was able to vote in my new precinct as a provisional voter - meaning that my vote won't get counted until they can verify that I am actually registered to vote and that I didn't try and vote more than once. This might take a couple of weeks. Being able to vote provisionally was cool because otherwise I would have had to take the ferry back over to Kitsap County (on the other side of Puget Sound) after work.

Voting was very smooth. No problems at the polls - no waiting either. Lots of people voting but everything kept moving right along. The ballots were the kind where you have to fill in the circles next to the candidates name. I think the biggest problem they were having was people walking off with the pens.

Very wet day here but it seems to be tapering off.

PamNov 02, 2004 at 3:51PM

I voted in Ward 4 in Dover, NH. I was going to try to vote before work, but at 8:15 there was a line around the building, so I decided to go back mid-morning.
I went back around 10:30. There were a lot of cars and people around, but the whole process took less than 5 minutes. I went in and had my name checked off. I was given a paper ballot. The voting officials were obviously prepared for a bigger crowd than usual because the layout was different from any other time I have voted there. There were the usual dozen or so curtained booths and in addition to that, at least three rows of partioned tables where people could sit and vote. I was able to get a booth. NH uses paper ballots that are loaded into an optical scanner. Everyone working there was very nice and helpful. I got an America Votes sticker to wear for the rest of the day. It was great.
I was much less impressed with what was going on in Durham, NH, where I work.

BrianNov 02, 2004 at 3:52PM

No problem in Eau Claire, Wisconsin where I voted. The gentleman at the door did say that he'd never seen so many people registering (WI has same-day registration.) I voted at 9:15 and I was the 268th person in my ward to cast a ballot. No machines, just a paper "fill in the arrow" ballot. My students have also experienced no problems, but voting on campus here has extremely long lines.

It makes me feel good that everyone is so into this election this year. We've seen both candidates many times in the last weeks so maybe that's why.

Dane CarlsonNov 02, 2004 at 3:52PM

Just voted at a local elementary school a couple blocks from my house. School was in session, which I thought was weird and scary. Lots of people coming and going is not my idea of safe and secure campus.

There was an a-frame sign with a "Polling Place" sign on it, pointing in the general direction of a door with lots of American flags pasted to it. No actual sign on the door indicating that this was the spot.

Voting took place in the teachers' lounge / supply closet / hallway. The room was "L" shaped and about 3 feet (the supply shelves and refrigerator took up much of the space in the room). The line snaked in from the inside of the doorway to the corner, where the election officials sat and took my name and addresses and handed me a ballot. Various school officials waved in and out and through the hallway on their way from one place to another. There were only four voting "booths", and the officials were anxious that I vote just against the wall in the open. My wife (who was ahead of me in line) was probably the first person to ask for a plastic privacy shield for her ballot, since the officials had to scramble to find one.)

I refused to vote against the wall and waited for an open booth. Our ballots where the bubble scantron type. No problem filling out the forms, but I did notice that the names/propositions didn't line up perfectly.

After voting one of the officials removed my ballot stub, and I slid my completed ballot of the privacy guard and into the ballot box. The box wasn't deep enough to accommodate the entire length of the ballot vertically, so I had to stick my finger into the open slot to knock my ballot flat.

Chuck WelchNov 02, 2004 at 3:54PM

Voted last week in the courthouse of my small Indiana town. Three poll workers and two tables. They took my drivers license. Matched it to my face and address. They found the paper ballot for my district. I was given an envelope in which to place the ballot when I was finished. I was directed to the hallway where three booths were placed. The ballot was the easy to use "fill in the arrow" type. We have only a few races in my county so voting took only a few moments.

I sealed the folded ballot in the envelope -- which was marked with a sticker indicating my name, address and district number. The poll worker took the ballot and threw it away.

Seriously, she placed it the ballot box, but here in Indiana my presidential pick probably won't grab the electoral votes. I do wish we had a direct vote for President.

Donald LarsonNov 02, 2004 at 3:54PM

I voted today in San Diego County. It was easy, took about 15 minutes from the time I arrived until I left when I was finished.

We used paper ballots with ovals to fill-in for our selections.

The staff said there was heavy turn-out. I thanked the staff for their time to help the election process.


JoshNov 02, 2004 at 3:56PM

Got to my polling place, PS 152 on Glenwood Road in Brooklyn, at about 6:30. There was a healthy crowd but very little actual waiting to pull that red lever. My only concern was that the McCall switch was broken in the Democrats column, so we were instructed to pull the McCall switch in one of the other columns. I suppose the vote goes to the same place, but it's the principle of the thing. I was enthused by how many people were out in force by 6:30!

Gerry HumphreyNov 02, 2004 at 3:57PM

I went to the local polling place around 9:30am. I was the fith person in line. They said that there was a constant line since opening.

The first guy was getting a provisional ballot as they could not find him on the rolls. It was his first time voting. He had his ID with him. He was ready....and so was the polling place volunteers :) They were very efficient in getting him his provisional ballot. They even checked with each other to make sure that it was done correctly!

Next 3 people went in no problem, by the time it was my turn about 15 people were in line behind me. All of them seemed to be at least 25 years older than me. As we were waiting, one of the volunteers brought out the inkdots machine and a example ballot going over the process with all of us and making sure that each one of us knew how to use the new system.

I went in, took out my "cheat sheet", blasted thru the ballot, double checked it, pulled out the card and checked the inkdots, slid it into the envelope, gave it to the lady at the ballot box, got my stub and my I Voted sticker.

The first guy left right in front of me with a big smile on his face. He voted and felt that his vote was going to count!

As I left most of the people that were in the line behind me were in, but there was still about a dozen new people in line.

It was great to see the good turnout early and to see that the volunteers were ready and informed!

Side note: My wife works at a school that is also a polling place. My kids were with her and asked what people were doing in the auditorium today. My wife said they were voting and one of the volunteers took time to show my kids what was happening and how people vote. They even let them use the instructional machine and take their "ballot" to their classrooms for show-and-tell. My wife said tears came to her eyes as she got to share this experience with our kids.

Of course, as one of my kids was going to their classroom, they asked "Is Bush #2 right now?" My wife said that they needed to count all of the votes. My daughter replied, "Well,I hope so." (She is 8.)

JoshNov 02, 2004 at 3:58PM

Why did I say McCall when I meant Major Owens? Oh well! I got it right at the polls. ;)

Pete ProdoehlNov 02, 2004 at 4:04PM

Well, I have not voted yet, but my wife told me she waited in line about 90 minutes, and while she was worried because she did not have her driver's license on her, all they asked for was her address, and then her name. That sounded odd, since I'd think anyone with a phonebook (or Google) could get that information. (We're in Wisconsin, BTW)

Eric JNov 02, 2004 at 4:04PM

I'm another Oregonian, we do the vote-by-mail thing. I had mine stamped and back in the mail within thirty minutes of receiving it. No waiting in the cold outside an elementary school, no dangling chads, no sketchy touchscreens -- this is the only way to vote.

mookiNov 02, 2004 at 4:06PM

glad you asked.

went to the church on 12th street in brooklyn with my 12-year-old son around 10 am this morning. very long lines and many confused people. there are about 10 districts represented in my polling place. the poll workers were trying, but obviously didn't know how to answer any questions beyond "what line should i stand in?" we waited for an hour, only to find out that my name didn't appear in their book. i'm a registered voter and have voted in every election, even the little local primaries. so we were sent to another line where we waited again. no go. no name in the book and therefore no ability to vote in the machine.

i was offered what they called a "provisional ballot," but have heard so many rumours about whether these even get counted that i begged to be able to vote in the machine. yikes. son almost in tears. i spoke with 2 managers, who were unhelpful to the point of absurdity. during this time 15 other people experienced exactly the same problem. we were told that we could fill out the ballots by hand (i think they're actually called "affadavit ballots"?). we were also told to go in person to 435 adams street in downtown brooklyn. the whole process was crazy.

i called many of the voter hotlines that have been advertised to death. surprise, no service at either 866.votenyc or the brooklyn board of elections. i finally sent my son home (what a lesson in bureaucracy he learned!) and was able to get a lovely volunteer on the line at 866.ourvote. he reassured me that as long as i filled out the paper ballot at my correct polling place, which he verified, that it would get counted. he also suggested that i call the registrar at 866.votenyc to report the problem. i finally reached them after trying for 3 hours.

all in all a maddening experience.

NicoleNov 02, 2004 at 4:09PM

I voted at about 8am this morning. Hardly a line at that time, and I went straight through (though a healthy line was starting to form as I left). The people operating the poll location were very friendly and helpful. The only glitch was that I originally went to the wrong polling place as my city had recently been redistricted. But, five minutes later, I was at the correct location.

DashaNov 02, 2004 at 4:11PM

I voted in Denver Colorado. Or rather, I tried to early vote, stood in line for an hour only to have the machines go down with three people ahead of me. They ended up being down for 3 hours. It was a good thing I left. Today I voted in my designated Lakewood area. It was a quiet church 3 minutes from my house, I went at lunch and had absolutelly no wait. Both places had touch screen computers, which i enjoyed. I'm going the absentee route next year, like most of my friends. But being a new citizen I wanted to go through the "real thing" once. I'm a recent college grad and a first time voter.

Chris WrightNov 02, 2004 at 4:14PM

Sorry to all the frustrated folks.

My first vote ever here in Austin, TX was disconcertingly easy. I learned where to vote from one of the voter registration websites (don't remember which one)--a middle school around the corner from my apartment. After finishing class this afternoon around 2:30 I went straight to the middle school. I walked in and the registration table was right inside the front doors, and there were 3 people in line when I arrived. When my turn came up, I handed the woman my registration card, she looked me up on her list, and I signed my name. [While that was going on, two of the clerks were ribbing each other; a man was asking an older woman what was the largest turnout they'd ever had at that polling site. She thought for a minute and said "About 1100" compared to what I overheard was today's 350 so far. He paused for a beat and said, "wow, that must've been for FDR!" The woman turned to me and said that his name was "about to be mud".] The woman at the end of the table printed off my PIN number and handed it to me, and I walked to the booth and entered my choices. Overall, it took about 10 minutes.

Even though the country is about to explode in partisan bickering over the impending lawsuits and counter-suits over the election, for a brief moment the enjoyable and easy experience of voting restored my faith in democracy.

chris crippenNov 02, 2004 at 4:19PM

i got to the polling place about 11 and was done by 11:15. i don't think it could have gone any smoother. the only hold up was the volunteer showing people how to use the computers. our polling place was at an old folks home (anaheim hills, ca), so we had a 70 year old showing 80 year olds how to use the computer. neither one of them could get it... once my wife and i got up to the beginning of the unusually short line we were in and out. the computers were very easy to use and if you made a mistake you were able to go back and fix it before you cast your ballot. all in all it was very good.

LauraNov 02, 2004 at 4:22PM

Walked to the polls in Lander at about ten this morning and noticed I was the only one doing so in this huge town of 6000. So the time consuming part was waiting to cross the street, which I might add one never has to do this on a normal day. No lines at the polls (except to find parking). People had to wait for booth but it was minimal. Seemed like a good turnout if one counts the traffic going up and down the street. Vothing in Wyoming for president can sometimes seem like the saying "when a tree falls in the forest does anyone hear it?"

MaryNov 02, 2004 at 4:23PM

My voting experience here in Salinas, CA was unbelievable in that, rather than punch machines, rather than touch screens, I was handed the ballot, shown a pen and directed to "complete the arrow" next to the candidates, ballot measures, etc. of choice. I huddled in the booth in disbelief.

I'm not kidding. There were incomplete arrows next to each name and measure ... the ones I wanted, I had to complete the arrow drawing.

I left feeling emotionally spent.

KaraNov 02, 2004 at 4:29PM

I waited 2 hours to vote early on Friday. Now I know why turnout is so awful! What made it completely infuriating was that although there were ~20-30 computers available for voting, the people checking voters in were so slow and inefficient that only 2-5 computers were being used at a time! So what is the point of having so many??? Do they need more volunteers to check people in or a faster method?

tomNov 02, 2004 at 4:31PM

i voted in wisconsin, thankful that the barrage of tv ads are finally over. those of you in non-battleground states should be thankful that you didn't see all of the junk that came our way. it was very tiresome after awhile. the wolves were cute though -- i was ready to pet them, not run away from them.

normally i can walk into the polling place and vote. 5 minutes was the most that i've had to wait over the last 20 years. today i had to wait 45 minutes at 7:10 am. the line was great, people were very courteous and patient. same day registration makes it very, very easy to vote in wisconsin. all you need is some form of id that shows you live at your residence. even a couple of bills (electric/gas) can be used if you just moved in.

LillianNov 02, 2004 at 4:32PM

Another advantage of life in rural America! There were only a handful of people at the little white Town of Lincoln, Eau Claire County, WI town hall on Liberty Street, with no indication that this was where to vote except for the flag in front.

I was in and out in a flash! #131 at 9:30 am, but they assured me that the turnout was extremely good.

It was also a time of bonding for my son and I as we met at the town hall for his first voting experience. It can only get better if the outcome goes my way...

JasonNov 02, 2004 at 4:37PM


I just realized I never registered for the federal election at my new address--however, I have voted in local town/county elections during the last two years (for local school board issues, etc...). Am I out of luck (I'm in NY)? I am going to go to the polling place anyway, but I'd like to know what to expect if any of you have the answer.


youngnaNov 02, 2004 at 4:40PM

I voted in Williamsburg at just after 6 a.m. this morning (at PS 19) and beat the rush -- no line at all. I imagine if more people had been there, then it would have been chaotic. Most of the people working only spoke spanish and weren't helpful instructing/directing people who were confused.

DanialNov 02, 2004 at 4:44PM

I live in Pakistan, there is so much hype about american elections in my country that it is impossible for any one to ignore. Majority of Pakistanis are wishing a clear cut victory for Kerry. Also many of us are quite surprised to see that atleast half of the voters are still going to vote Bush. I was asked by a friend, that how could Americans re-elect Bush?

We were also quite surprised to notice that during the campaign republicans blamed Kerry to be liberal, like it is some kind of bad thing to be liberal. We Pakistanis idealize Americans for their popular culture, their openness, the freedom they enjoy and the democratic values of their society. Seeing a Man asking for votes in the name of "Faith" was weird for us.

Kevin FoxNov 02, 2004 at 4:44PM

I voted in Mountain View, Santa Clara County, California, where there were four touchscreens, a cardboard booth for paoer ballots, and a table for paper ballots. There was no line at all, and I got to chat with my poll worker who also happened to be a long lost college friend. They asked 'paper or plastic', we opted for paper, drwe lines to complete the arrows on the optical ballot, tore the receipts, put the ballots in the box, got our stickers and went to work.

5 minutes, in and out. Easy peasy. If only all regieme change were so quick and simple.

ElanaNov 02, 2004 at 4:45PM

I voted in Manhattan mid-morning today. Long line (30 people roughly) outside the polling place but the election workers were there to quickly sort people into relatively ordered lines by district. That 5-7 person line moved me along to someone who filled out my voting card which in turn I gave to the person who found me in the rolls and checked my signature on file. She mentioned they had been swamped with folks from the time they arrived to work that morning, around 5:30 am and before they were ready, she seemed a little flustered. Funnily enough, the politician who ran and lost on the democratic ticket for mayor of New York City in the contested race four years ago was right behind me, not sure if this was good omen but he was pleasant, chatted with people and cracked jokes.

After signing in we were ushered to the booth line, 2-3 people deep. We were both struck by and commented on how these type of voting machines will probably be considered dinosaurs by the next presidential election. I went inside and pulled the large center lever to one side to clear the ballot choices from the previous voter; as usual candidates were listed under each party heading and there were small plastic levers that you turn next to the name. I recalled that last time I voted they had made it difficult to vote the local referendums by hiding them in the lower far right corner so I was sure to check there this time and saw nothing. I finished, pushed the big lever back across and left the booth, shook hands with the politician and left the building. Ran into someone from my building on the street on the way back who didn't know they'd changed the polling place a few years ago so I may have enabled at least one more voter although she is a little ditzy.

I voted on two different tickets, Democratic party for president and Working Families party for state officials. My logic for this is that it's important to show national solidarity with Democrats in the presidential race and important to support hte Working Families mandates for good jobs, minimum wage, etc. at the state level but I also wonder if this dilutes my vote for those officials? My best recollection is that New York State law is that all are counted together but with the monkey business everywhere this year, it gave me pause.

NanohawkNov 02, 2004 at 4:49PM

If your polling site lines are insanely long......just sneak in through the exit door. I saved about 40 minutes of my life this morning and didn't have to succumb to the temptations of baked good peddlers and donated coffee.

MegNov 02, 2004 at 4:50PM

I got to my polling location in Alexandria, VA at around 6:30 this morning and was out of there by 7:30. The line was long, but in the DC suburbs I've grown accustomed to waiting in line for EVERYTHING, so I wasn't surprised. The aggressive Republican guy handing out sample ballots was making me somewhat cranky, but things moved along quickly and overall it was a good experience. Got to use the new eslate machines, which I preferred to the booths with levers I used when I lived in NY.

ralphNov 02, 2004 at 4:53PM

My wife and I walked to the polling station at an elementary school about a block away from our home in suburban Monmouth county, New Jersey, at about 7:30 this morning. On our way there, I had a brief moment of fury when I noticed that someone had placed lawn signs on our property for candidates I don't support. I tore them out and threw them down to retrieve and junk on our way back from voting.

In our district, there was nobody in line for the A-J voters, so I got to vote without any wait. My wife kept her maiden name when we got married, and her line, the L-Z line, had three people in front of her. The poll workers asked us for ID, which had never happened to me before, but no big deal. The workers were a little surprised to see an address in a nearby town on our drivers' licenses, but once we pointed out that our current address was on the back as a sticker that the state had sent us when we moved, they were fine with it.

Our voting machines are the old fashioned booths with the levers. I love voting in these things. I hope we keep them forever. The ballot was pretty short, so it only took a minute or so for me to vote, and that included the ten seconds at the beginning when I sighed and thought about how giddy I felt the previous times I had voted. This one seemed more like a grim duty, even though I feel strongly that my chosen candidate is going to win.

I had to wait for my wife to finish voting; she was still in line when I was done. Some of my fellow voters were talking to their neighbors. I didn't see anyone I recognized. Finally, my wife got her chance at a booth, and a minute later, we were on our way home. Total elapsed time at the school was about five or six minutes. It seemed pretty much the same as every other time I've voted here, going back to the first time I ever voted more than 20 years ago.

steve cooleyNov 02, 2004 at 4:54PM

Los Gatos is just outside of san jose by way of campbell. I can confirm, one paper ballot booth. My wife and I voted by paper ballots at the same time; she got the booth, I got to stand next to the large paper cutter at the school where we vote. I figured if people are seeing how I'm voting, then that's their problem, not mine. We didn't get hassled about wanting to vote via paper, but nobody else in the 30-40 person line seemed to be clued in.

We got to short cut about 10 people who were waiting for the votamatons.

Also, two kinds of stickers, one that says "I voted! Touchscreen" and should additionally say "Did it count?" and the smaller, older school sticker that just says "I voted".

All in all, no problems.

MichaelNov 02, 2004 at 4:57PM

I went to the polls in California around 11:00AM PST. Very few people were there. I requested a paper ballot and the election workers were a little surprised. Turns out only about a half a dozen voters had requested a paper ballot (i.e. not many people). I filled in the circles as if I was taking the last SAT of my life. Very excited and nervous at the same time.

The only problem I had was that they sat me down at a table where my ballot was exposed to everyone. At anytime, someone could just look over and see how I was voting. That was a little annoying, but I don't mind telling people how I'll vote.

All in all it was a very pleasant experience.

P.S. My girlfriend went early in the morning and was unable to vote due to the long line. She’ll be casting her vote tonight.

Oh Good Grief

John ButlerNov 02, 2004 at 4:58PM

Lawton, Oklahoma -- Arrived at my polling place at 7:10 AM, thinking I'd beat the rush. Wrong. Folks were there at 6:00 AM, standing in line for when the polls opened at 7:00 AM. When I got there, the line snaked back and forth through the neighborhood primary school. I was handed a ballot at 8:20 AM. -- all optical scan ballots in Oklahoma, but no write-ins allowed.

NicoleNov 02, 2004 at 4:58PM

I commented above (at 4:09pm) and wanted to note that I voted in Helena, MT.

AJNov 02, 2004 at 4:59PM

I found out my polling place from a small registration card mailed to me the week prior - my luck to pull an old decrepit highschool gymnasium, of course, with hundreds of other people. I stood in line for about 2 hours this morning... all for the great culmination of turning in my oddly-colored paper ballot to a small machine. My ballot consisted of "connect the arrow" for the candidate you were choosing, which seemed enormously compicated at first glance (in the last major election I used a touch-screen machine). I noticed that while there was a general hush over the crowds waiting outside, inside was incredibly noisy - perhaps anticpation for a conclusion to the long wait? A chance to walk away and smile in small satisfaction that we had engaged in our civil duty? There was also a bit of unease that I hadn't noticed in past elections... and some sarcasm as to whether or not votes would be counted at all... or even counted for the correct candidate. Odd conversations amid an odd collection of people. It certainly sends the message that this election has cut across all stretches of humanity - age, color, career, socio-economic status - all were present. Overall not a bad experience. I only missed one college class this morning.

NYC4KerrryNov 02, 2004 at 5:00PM

I voted this morning (10am) in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NYC. I was the #121 voter in my district - which was a much higher turnout than 2000 according to the volunteer.

I was in and out in about 15 minutes, but my biggest issue - the voting machines.

How is it possible for the US to be the wealthiest country in the world, yet we use antiquated, dilapidated, voting machines? Mine was at least 50 years old, difficult to use, and horribly designed. ALL 5 people in front of me had difficulties using the machine - all ages and races.

Hopefully, the new President, Mr.Kerry, will address some of these issues.

DanNov 02, 2004 at 5:04PM

Voted in downtown Minneapolis this morning...we waited about 90 minutes, having arrived at a bit after 7 a.m. My wife had no problems, as we just got married and she registered via motor-voter, needing a new driver's license, and all that. I had to re-register because I'm a slacker that didn't bother to update his driver's license when we moved into our current place. No hassle in getting same-day registration.

In all the places I've voted, this was the heaviest turnout I'd seen, but I'm sure it'll be worse this evening. The mood was generally a bit testy, with the long wait and the piss-poor organization inside the polling area. This was exacerbated by the high-strung old woman who was serving as an election judge, displaying a great case of Minnesota Passive-Aggressive (Minnesota Nice became obsolete years ago). Noticed that one election judge was going after people who were wearing pro-Kerry clothing/knick-knacks, but was turning a blind eye to the pro-Bush stuff. *shrug*

The machines were Minnesota's usual -- fill in the little bubbles with a black ink pen and the machine will do the rest. Generally, not too worried about that.

General impression? Kerry's going to crush Bush in Minneapolis.

BryanNov 02, 2004 at 5:04PM

Well, I must say, my first Presidential voting experience was quite, well, eh, boring. However, my experience is pretty damn good compared to what people in Iowa, Ohio, and Florida are going through.

I got to the polls at 6:45 am. There was about 60 people in line, and it was in a elementary schools gym. My wife and I stood, moved, stood, moved, repeat, rinse, etc... for about 1 hour. Then we get to our machines which, I must say, decent voting machines if you are concerned with fraud as I don't see it happening much with these machines.

They are electronic, but have large pieces of paper with the names on them and next to each name is a button that lights up when pressed. If you cancel your vote, you simply push the button again and the light goes off. Its not rocket science.

Once you are done with the first page, you push a green button at the bottom which brings up Page 2 and a bunch of political stuff I didn't quite understand, like Inventory tax and whether a certain judge should be removed.

When you are all done, you push this big red button. And you are done!

Now, I liked the machines we used. I would not want to have used the scantron type sheets where you fill in the bubbles with pencil. At the same rate, I would trust a computer touch screen. I just felt comfortable with the machine I used, thats about the best I can explain it.

With that said, if every polling station in the country acted like ours did, you wouldn't have to worry about voter intimidation, fraud, etc... Now, granted, who knows what happens when the voting is all done and they remove those machines, but I am just stating what I thought about while I was there.

But there were no picketers, no one handing out pamphlets, no one bugging us to vote for person A,B, or C.

Now, I must admit, our particular county / area has very little minorities. I would have to say our particular polling station, WHILE I WAS THERE in that 1 hour 10 minute span, breaks down like this

Total people (rough estimate) - 100

- Caucasian - 97
- Hispanic - 3
- African American - 0
- Asian/Chinese/Japanese - 0

So that gives you a rough breakdown of the ethnic groups in our particular area. Our city has a good amount of minorities, but they just didn't turn up at our particular polling station. They may have gone to another one though.

Anyways, that is my first Presidential Election voting experience.

first voting experience

Tim SheyNov 02, 2004 at 5:04PM

I posted a similar comment (to Jason's initial one here) this morning on the IxD email discussion group (interactive designers) this morning after an odd Sequoia e-Voting experience, and here was one reply I got - would love for those posrting here to check this survey out:

"If anyone else encounters usability/design-related problems with voting, we have created an online form to collect those notes. Other groups are focusing on security...we are focusing on what we do and the human aspect of voting.

"The collection form: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=17812688584

"I'd be interested if anyone has voted with an audio ballot, or used any of the visual enhancements on any of the machines."

glennNov 02, 2004 at 5:05PM

Fast and easy in Cambridge, MA, this morning. My precinct votes in an elementary school a few blocks from my house, and there were no lines at 8am. No verification of identity for me, either (they asked me my street, but read me my name and took my word for it that that was me), but I saw that a bunch of names had "ID" codes printed next to them. Not sure how they decided who to ID. I've been voting in this precinct for 7 years, but it's my wife's first year here and she didn't have to show ID either.

The ballot was a fill-in-the-oval type, like for standardized tests. I don't think you could reasonably screw it up.

tommyNov 02, 2004 at 5:09PM

I voted this morning in Virginia. I was not totally happy with the major party candidates so I decided to swap votes via http://www.votepair.org -- Hope it works.

HeatherNov 02, 2004 at 5:11PM

I voted in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, this afternoon. Very smooth process, using the same electronic machines we've had for years. My precinct has a steady flow of voters each election, regardless, and even mid-afternoon there were about 15 people there. I suspect that we had a lot of voting before business hours, and will have more this evening (polls are open 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.). Glad to see a number of my political candidate's bumper stickers around; this state will not go his way, but voting is more important than a lottery.

CharlieNov 02, 2004 at 5:11PM

Jason, regarding the photo from inside your voting booth: I found it interesting that at my voting place they were confiscating cameraphones. I had to "check it" and then pick it up on my way out. Anyone else have a similar experience?

Scott SevertsonNov 02, 2004 at 5:12PM

Slow, but no problems in Milwaukee, WI's 105th Ward. Polls opened at 7:00AM, I arrived at 8:00, and waited until about 8:50 before I got my ballot (paper fill-in-the-arrow scantron style). Filled it in, stuck it in the slot, and on my way by 9:00.

Only concern was the suit-wearing laywer-looking guy wandering around the voting area, not wearing an elections official sticker. I'm sure he was there on the behalf of one of the campaigns. He didn't seem to be doing evil at the time, but I'm curious what his purpose was.

Jamie HinerNov 02, 2004 at 5:13PM

Voting was pretty easy here in Nebraska, IDing was pretty strict, barcodes id numbers and signatures as well as another person writing down your ID number from the person next to them every time some one signed their name. As far as the ballot goes it was pretty easy here, two sheets both sides, pencil scan tron on the ballot itself no tabs to punch no fuss easy as apple pie

MicahNov 02, 2004 at 5:15PM

I cast my ballot for John Kerry around 9:10 AM in South Grafton, MA. But I arrived at the polls at around 8:45 AM. Here's my story.

Having recently (Oct. 9) moved into Massachusetts, one of the first things I did was register to vote before the deadline. On that day of deadline, I filled out the registration form, received the receipt, and was instructed to bring said receipt and a photo ID with me to the polls when I vote.

Fast forward to this morning. I entered the "Municipal Building" and first discovered which precinct I was in. Number 4, which was right around the corner in what looked like a gymnasium. I can only fathom that this building was once a school.

I had to check-in first before I could get my ballot, obviously. The check-in table was staffed with two nice looking, but definitely elderly ladies. I gave my address and name to the woman with the big book of names. Glancing at the book while she searched for my name, I saw that my entry was bolded with "ID" next to my name. I had my receipt with me and my old license ready to be presented, but instead I was handed a ballot (paper, yay!) and was directed to the rows of booths.

This is where I should have said something. Part of me told me to say something, but a stronger part of me said that she must know what she is doing, since she has the big book and red pencil. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

Before I could officially cast my ballot into the machine that eats ballots, I had to now check-out, as if I had just stayed in a hotel for all of 45 seconds. There was another grandmother-like woman working another big book of names for the purposes of checking-out voters. I went through the same motions, address and name, but was presented with the question "Did you show ID?"

I could not tell a lie. This caused a look of panic on the small woman and started to call over to the check-in table for assitance of some sort. She also immediately grabbed my ballot (voting side up for the world to see) to prevent any wrong-doing as far as I could tell.

Soon I was the center of attention as people figured out the procedure for dealing with this mishap. I was asked for my ID, which was an New Hampshire drivers license, to which the lady at the check out exclaimed that the address was different on the NH ID versus the address in her big book (where I currently reside). I did my best to not insult her intelligence by gently explaining that I had just moved and did not have a MA ID at the time. I also said that I had my voter registration receipt and a copy of my lease. This seemed to appease the people in charge at the moment, but I was still pulled aside to record my license number and the fact that I had a lease.

When I was finally cleared to submit my ballot, my license number was not recorded in either of the big books nor the fact that I had a lease with me. This was puzzling as the collection of hens, I mean, laides had spent the better part of 10 minutes deciding that they should record this information somewhere. (As far as I know the only record that was taken, was made on a yellow sticky note.)

Suffice to say, I was glad to just get my vote counted and get out of that mess.

CoryRNov 02, 2004 at 5:15PM

Voting, how empowering. It truly is a great experience.

I'm in Minneapolis and live down the street from the polling location. I just returned a few minutes ago and it was a quick 10 minute event. No hassle, no problems, everyone seemed upbeat and joyful to be exercising their right to vote (this was my first Presidential election).

Moveon.org/PAC had a booth on the sidewalk, probably setup legal distance from the polling. Outside there was also a middle-aged man in a black trench coat with a sign that read something to the effect of Legal Issues Advisor, Speak to Me. I'm guessing it was a fellow liberal who dabbled in law and was there to help anyone with questions.

Voter turnout was very high here as well. I was one of the last people to sign in under the L-Z clipboard, and it was only 3:30! People were in high spirits.

There were no lines.
Perfect number of polling booths available.
A wide range of ages, races, and economic status (being in a city district in Minneapolis) at the polls.
Plenty of help from the poll workers.
The ballots were 'fill in the circle' and fed into a machine counter.

All in all it was a great day. The only thing that would make it better is a Kerry + Edwards win. The icing on the cake, as it were :-)

RRNov 02, 2004 at 5:15PM

Location: Orange County, CA


I requested and was given a paper ballot, much to the confusion of the poor woman checking off my name. Her expression when I asked was like I told her that her dog died.

There were two of the traditional cardboard with a white plastic sheet standup voting booths for the non-e-voters. The rest were electronic booths. They are fairly open, but have these dark grey awning type things to shield the screen. There were probably eight of those that you stand up to vote and two lower ones where people could sit.

I waited probably five minutes for the two people ahead of me to vote. One had an absentee ballot and the other had a provisional ballot. I wasn't in there for long and there weren't a ton of people, but it seemed like the people using paper ballots were all provisional voters and had to fill out a envelope to put their ballot in. I wasn't a provisional voter, so they didn't give me an envelope.

When they gave me my ballot, they put the two larger than legal size sheets in a folded over piece of grey paper. I had to ask for a pen because there wasn't one in my booth. I actually had one in my bag, but I was trying to point out to them that there weren't any in there.

The paper ballot was just a fill-in type. They did not give me any instructions when they handed me the ballot and there was nothing posted in the booth. The sheet simply said to fill in the rectangle next to the vote completely with blue or blank ink, so that's what I did.

Took probably five to ten minutes because ball point takes a while.

After I completed my voting, I put the ballot back in the grey folder and handed it to the guy. He proceeded to take it out of the grey folder and stick it in the ballot box which was hard to get the sheets into, while simultaneously flashing anyone who cared to be looking who I voted for. I was a little annoyed and realized that I probably should've folded it over, but oh well.

In hindsight, I'm a little concerned that these paper ballots didn't have any sort of traditional numbered voting stub. Will they be counted? Not sure.

joshNov 02, 2004 at 5:16PM

first time voting so i didnt know what exactly to expect. i read everywhere to bring an ID which i did, but no where do they mention it needs to be the same ADDRESS as your current! So i had to do a provisional paper ballot and fax in a copy of a bill or something later (lol like that even sounds secure)...

Garrett FitzgeraldNov 02, 2004 at 5:19PM

No problems in Bothell, WA. My polling place moved since the last election, but we got new voter cards in plenty of time for the primary identifying the new location (the library). When I went down just after 8, I signed in at my precinct as number 20 (or so), and was greeted by the pollworker who knew that my wife had come in to vote earlier that morning. I filled out the scantron-style ballot, and carried it across the room (no paper sleeve, grr) to the ballot box, which promptly rejected it. When my heart started beating again, the pollworker re-submitted it, and the machine took it this time, informing me that it was the 105th ballot submitted. :-) Time from leaving home to returning home was between 15 and 20 minutes.

Ben GNov 02, 2004 at 5:19PM

I'm a voter in Alameda County, California (the east
side of the SF Bay Area), the neighboring county to Santa Clara, where BoingBoing reported people having trouble getting access to paper ballots.

Alameda County moved to touchscreen Diebold AccuVote machines in 2000; this year at the polling place I thankfully had no problems requesting a paper ballot. My day job is as a senior software engineer at a well-known financial company; I know very well how these critical machines are engineered (or not), and I don't trust them with my vote.

Not only was there a special checkbox specifically for "Voter
requested a paper ballot" (as opposed to the provisional ballot
checkboxes in Santa Clara), I also received a slip of paper with a phone number and ID
number for my ballot that I can call after 28 days to verify that my
vote was correctly counted.

Interestingly enough, there was a blind fellow having a terrible time
with the audio and touch-pad interface to the Diebold machine; several
times the machine would not continue to the next selection, claiming he
had under-voted when he hadn't, and two poll-workers had to manually
assist him with voting.

I'm glad we have the option for a paper ballot!

BetsyNov 02, 2004 at 5:19PM

I voted in Dallas on the third day of early voting - after living with four years of guilt from not voting in 2000 (even though I was living in DC at the time!). The first three days of early voting at my location brought a tremendous turnout ~1,400+ per day! Despite living in Bush country, it was refreshing to see that the parking lot was filled with OTHER opinions besides the conservative mantra of the county/state. The line to vote was a tad intimidating, but it moved swiftly - only 15-20 minutes to snake through a line of 50+ people. The polling place administrators came out and walked us through what we had to have on us to vote (my driver's license was accepted - although I was still officially "registered" at the house I grew up in, although I was NEVER old enough to vote while I lived there. There's a stumper...), how the electronic ballots worked (scrolling fashion with one final opportunity to confirm all choices - believe me - I double and tripled checked my vote for President), and answered any questions we had while waiting to enter. Once inside, they used our information to find the right ballot - since we didn't have to vote in our district during early voting - and off to the touch screen we went. Super easy, relatively fast and I walked out of there feeling patriotic as well as hopeful that there is more than just a little change a brewin'!

Glenn StaufferNov 02, 2004 at 5:23PM

From Millport, PA (Lititz area), I can report that voting was a simple in-and-out affair. We went over to the old mill that is our polling place over the lunch hour to find that the poll watchers and other official personnel (5) outnumbered the voters (2). The longest part of the whole process was the talk I had with the poll worker about the fact that my name appeared twice in their voter log as it has for the past four elections since I changed my registration from Independent to Green Party. Maybe I should go back and vote a second time. :-) The voting itself was by mechanical machine. Only five or six offices to vote for here. In the local races, it was often a Republican candidate running against a Green candidate - no Democrat bothered to run!

Later, I was a bit dismayed to see that a nearby small town had the voting booths at a church - a church that my family from my Great Grandfather through to my father attended, by the way. Just seems wrong and odd to vote in a church.

Joshua WebbNov 02, 2004 at 5:23PM

My 2004 voting experience was fairly low-key, a little chaotic, but I'm going to assume the chaos stems from it being my first time voting, ever.

I was registered via my school here in Milwaukee, WI and found out where to go through one of the few posters hung throughout the building (its a small school.) I arrived close to 8:00 and the line for voting was down and around the block. It took about an hour to get up to the building, and when I finally stepped inside the door I was met with a similarly long, haphazardly zig-zagging line. Like a poster above, the room was divided into two lines, one for each of the represented districts, however nothing was clearly labeled and to the untrained eye the lines looked more like a mob. After a few minutes of people at the door looking at eachother and whispering, "Do you know what to do?" a volunteer did enter the room and direct us to our appropriate lines. However, the line for the 59th district was significantly longer than that of the 58th (in otherwords, everyone was there for the 59th and no one was there for the 58th.)

Luckily, I was amongst the residents of the 58th district.

However, I had been informed that there was some problem where people who had recently registered to vote were not added to the voter list and would have to re-register. The whole process of picking up your ballot was quite disorganized and involved digging through various lists and several piles of cards for every person. Of course, my name was in the last pile checked.

We had paper ballots, the whole "complete the arrow" thing, which was fine, but I was a little confused about having completed the arrow for declaring one's party and having to then vote for each particular candidate, which I still don't quite understand, but I'm going to again presume it was because I was a first-time voter. (If I wasn't clear enough, I wasn't sure if I checked that I was going to vote for members of the Democratic party all the way if I should still go through and vote for all the democrats throughout the ballot, and if I did, should I have not selected that I would vote democratic the whole way? Would I confuse or screw up the machine? Was I just overanalyzing things?)

I asked a kind looking old woman manning the ballot reader machine, and she just smiled and told me to put my ballot in the machine.

AndreaNov 02, 2004 at 5:25PM

I voted in Kansas City, MO today and I had no problems. I arrived around noon and there was no line. It was a paper ballot and I punched the holes (no hanging chads - I checked twice!) and I was in and out in about 5 minutes.

Steve NewcombNov 02, 2004 at 5:26PM

Here in Appalachia (Blacksburg VA) we're still voting with Shoup voting machines -- they're old and ugly but they seem to work well. We arrived at the polling place at 7:20 am, and there was a 10-minute line, which is quite extraordinary at that hour. No problems; most people seemed cheery. Most people in line appears to be over 50, like us. One small family appeared to be in their 20s or 30s.

Adam ThorntonNov 02, 2004 at 5:28PM

This is something I posted to a mailing list I'm on. This was from University City, MO, which is an inner suburb of St. Louis:

Well, that was anticlimactic.

I got there about 8:40 AM. I went with Amy.

There was no one electioneering for either side, as far as I could see.
There was a pack of ACT-NOW people outside the entrance, who didn't say
anything other than "Good Morning" to us.

The election officials were cheery and efficient, and no problems
existed finding my name or Amy's name on the lists and getting us to
sign next to them.

The voting machines were mostly full, mostly with elderly folks--which,
since the polling place is on the bottom floor of a retirement home,
probably makes sense. This precinct is almost certainly heavily
Democratic, since it's largely Jewish retirees. It's also home to a
great many orthodox religious Jews, and truth be told I don't know how
they tend to vote, or whether they tend to vote--I know that the Jewish
vote is traditionally Democrat, but a case could also certainly be made
that if Israel is your top voting priority, then it would make sense for
you to support Bush. But I'm guessing that University City as a whole,
and the west end of it in particular, are going to go Democratic by a
huge margin.

However, there was no line for me to vote. There was also no apparent
security at the polling station: no metal detectors, no police presence,
no nothing. Fine by me.

The machines themselves were card-punch machines. The ballot seemed
pretty well-structured, although the party-line/split-party was a bit
confusing. I'm pretty sure that what it said was, "your party line vote
sets a default for the remainder of pages 1R-5R, but if you choose to
vote for individual races in that range of pages, you will override your
default." That could, however, have been clearer.

I placed my ballot card into the box myself, and the box was, well, a
big box with a slot in the top--I didn't see how it was locked--made of
galvanized steel sheet.

The whole process, start to finish, took less than ten minutes, and I
was back home by 8:55.

David McCreathNov 02, 2004 at 5:30PM

My polling place is across the parking lot from my office, so I was able to go over first thing. We are experiencing our first single-digit temperatures of the year for election day. (Anchorage, Alaska)

Oddly, there were far fewer actual boothes than I usually see for an election. In the past there has been anywhere from 10 to 14; today there were only 8. My guess is that they tried to distribute them more evenly amongst the polling places, and that my precinct, which usually has a pretty high turnout, lost a few to some that usually have lower.

It was a little busier than in the past. I think we are going to see a better than normal turnout.

AnthonyNov 02, 2004 at 5:30PM

I vote in Harris County, Texas. I was fifth in line at a church at 6:15 am, arriving just a couple of minutes before the first large rush of people.

The line started promptly at 7:00:30. I got signed in on the roll, got dispensed a login nonce, and proceeded to claim a terminal. Harris Co. uses Hart InterCivic eSlate machines. They're not as notorious as Diebold, but this is probably only because nobody's tried to investigate them yet.

I'm a Libertarian voter, and I was happy to see all of my party's candidates correctly represented on the machine's ballot. Whether or not my vote gets correctly counted is another matter. I dialed in and clicked all my selections, and was out the door by 7:15.

KiraNov 02, 2004 at 5:31PM

I 've been votin since I was 18....and every time it's been a matter of pride. My family bled for the right, and I was not going to be the first person to disapoint. That said... There was a line this morning at my CA polling station, the likes of which I haven't seen in all my years of voting. (a scant 9 of them...) I had to wait about 30 minutes, but everyone was nice and orderly. The only thing that I have to mention is that MY polling place is at a Halfway house....why is this relevant...well it was the fact that one of the poll workers was a resident. Now I am as liberally minded as the next...but I was a little hesitant to divulge my name and address with the knowledge that this person now knows that 1. I'm not home, and 2. is likely going to go straight to work after voting (as I was wearing my work clothes.)

Regardless... I have faith in the reformatory system - especially halfway homes as they are a great conduit to re-socializing convicted individuals back into the greater society. After the breif wait...got in..got out...Feels Great!

SumanaNov 02, 2004 at 5:32PM

Absentee voter. Handed in my sealed absentee ballot at my local batch-o'-booths, but they had no "I voted" stickers.

JoeyNov 02, 2004 at 5:33PM

Voted at 2 pm, here in Tennesse it was not busy, no line. At 28 I was the youngest person I saw voting. Oddly they said they'd need a photo ID, but then didn't ask me for one, just my voter registration card. They did need two separate signatures. No problems with the voting machine which actually fills out a paper record, but did not give me any kind of receipt.

I was suprised to see a sign out front asking voters not to use their cell phone in the building. I can see why they'd want to limit annoying conversations in line, but given all the coverage about numbers to call from the polling place if you have difficulty, it was strange to see that.

BrandonNov 02, 2004 at 5:33PM

Thankfully I don't have much of a voting story to tell. I sent in my absentee ballot late last week to my precinct in Olympia, Washington. I got my ballot very early without any problem whatsoever.

The ballot was pretty self explanatory, much easier than the incredibly hard to understand primary we had. We filled it out following the directions making very sure that we pulled off the the "chads" when we punched them out and sent it on it's way.

Of course when voting absentee you have to wonder if your ballot will ever actually see the light of day. Will it get lost in the mail? Will it be opened and counted long after the election has been decided? Did I do something wrong that may disqualify it?

Aaron RamrothNov 02, 2004 at 5:35PM

Oh, it's been an whirl wind trip and I'm not even sure if my vote will get counted - I'm an American oversees and I'm registered in Florida - two double whammys. I registered on time, never received my ballot, called several times to my elections supervisor without ANY call back and finally had to submit a Federal Write In Ballot. I'm still dizzy from trying to put together how to fill out the form and where to send it. For christ sake, I've got a college degree and toy with complex networks for a living and was still left scratching my head. Jeeze . . .

My fingers are crossed that my vote will arrive in time and will be accepted and counted. I will be following up with some question why this was so tough . . .

EricNov 02, 2004 at 5:36PM

First time voter (24, I missed the last one). I live in Seattle, and my polling place was a block away from my apartment.

I walked in this morning around 9:00AM, it was full but there wasn't a line. All the nice old ladies were very helpful. 2 people from Moveon.org showed up and said they were scheduled to help out, but no one knew what they could do, so they seemed to be sitting there doing nothing.

I went through my voting, all via paper. Penned in the bubbles and put it in the envelope. Done and done.

No exit pollers, no campaign signs in view of the polling place. Generally uneventful.

w.h.Nov 02, 2004 at 5:36PM

It went OK.

I'm in California in Santa Clara County, which means that we've got electronic voting, but there's the option of a paper ballot, but the poll workers are not allowed to tell us about it.

I asked for paper, and it looks like others have been asking for paper ballots, too. But, of course, we paper-voters had to sit in the dunce-corner behind a cardboard box where there was 1 station, vs 4 eat-my-vote machines. And we even got different "I VOTED" stickers.

john spainNov 02, 2004 at 5:36PM

from ground zero: tallahassee FL

I am presently attending Florida State Law School and I live about 4 blocks from downtown, and thus about 6 blocks from the FL capitol buildings. I assumed my precinct would be downtown, but then I made the realization that downtown would be ground zero for people working to report, contest, and re-contest votes. Last night as I drove around, indeed I found there were cops already camped out and setting things up around the FL Supreme Court. Not normal cop cars, the big black things that look like bulletproof delivery trucks.

Micheal Moore also added to the melee by speaking at the civic center last night; unfortunately I did not hear about it until after it was over.

Anyway, against this backdrop, I went twenty blocks north to vote in Frenchtown, Tallahassee's black quarter. I went from being right next to the hotbed of this election to a small old neighborhood, from the tall buildings of downtown to a highschool converted into a community center. I cast my paper ballot, smiled at the pollsters, and walked away while my neighbor who had come along commented on the girls who were coming in as we left.

Just another autumn day, really. Just another little thing you do, like go to the dentist or stop by the hardware store.

crisNov 02, 2004 at 5:37PM

I recently moved to Brookline, MA. I registered in person, with photo ID and a proof of residency a few weeks ago. I received an acknowledgement in the mail a few days later, which informed me that 1) I was now registered to vote, 2) my voting location has been changed.

In addition, the clerk's office made a mistake in entering my information(I was told this when I called to verify that this wasn't some fraudulant notice), so my middle name on the ballot was misspelled, and I was to show proof of residency again at the polls. I was concerned about the misspelling-- shouldn't that disqualify me, if my name doesn't match up? Around 10AM, there was no line at all at my polling station, and my name mismatch wasn't a problem.

Buck PaxtonNov 02, 2004 at 5:40PM

Living in Massachusetts always makes voting interesting. There are few if any supporters of either presidential candidates out in Worcester, not surprising as we can all be sure Kerry will take the state in a landslide. The one thing that was refreshing to see was lines. Voter turn out in MA has been abysmal through the last few elections, it's pretty obvious that the presidential election has driven people out in droves even though the two candidates have essentially ignored the state in favor of working the major swing states. Hopefully this new found interest in voting will last.
By the way, Worcester still uses paper balloting. No computer glitches to worry about here, just good old fashion fraud.

SharifNov 02, 2004 at 5:45PM

Voting in Virginia this morning went fairly well. There were very few campaigners outside, save a local city council candidate, and the few there were very hands-off.

I waited for about an hour to get to the front, where I handed them my voter registration card. Rather than ask for ID, they simply asked me to state my address to see if it matched. When it did, they handed me a small "Admit One" ticket, like you'd get at the carnival, and pointed me to another line by the voting booths.

After a short time in that line, I got to the front, handed my ticket to another attendent, and entered a fairly old mechanical booth (I'm guessing 50's or 60's era). The directions were surprisingly clear and I made my selections (by turning small knobs) in a matter of minutes. When I was done, I pulled a lever which finalized the vote and opened the curtain.

heatherNov 02, 2004 at 5:48PM

My husband and I had no problems in Elkridge, MD. We both heard stories today of people standing in line for over an hour, but we were in and out in less than 10 minutes. We married about six months ago, and thankfully, there were no problems with my name change.

JohnNov 02, 2004 at 5:48PM

I got to my polling place in Omaha about 20 minutes after it opened. The only line I had to wait in was made up of the two people who arrived in the same car I did. Signed my name, filled in a couple dozen little circles with my number 2 pencil, and I was done.

MikeSNov 02, 2004 at 5:55PM

My polling place is only a few blocks from my apt in LA (just S of Bev Hills) but I drove (of course) on my way to work. Unfortunately they weren't allowing parking in the lot at the temple where it was, so myself and everyone else had to go find street parking. I hope the cops are kind, because half the streets are off-limits after 8 am and a lot of us could have gotten tickets.

I got there around 7:10am (7:20 after parking) and there was a line of about 20-25 people in front of me. It was only one precinct that I'd been to a bunch of times in the past (I vote in all the primaries and regular elections) and that was more than I'd ever seen, but not too bad. It took about 20 minutes to get to the head of the line. Everybody was pleasant although quiet. After I signed in there was kind of a logjam in the voting booths (there were only 6), probably because we have like 19 ballot measures or something. One lady had been looking over hers for most of the time I had been in line, and was still there when I left. I had luckily reviewed all the props last nigth and had my list. We were using these little ink blotters, which looked almost identical to the old hole punchers and functioned essentially the same way. Overall a good experience, but I'm glad I went early because the line was about 20 people longer when I left there, and I couldn't see it speeding up at all.

Ben RegenspanNov 02, 2004 at 5:58PM

No trouble here in Oberlin, Ohio, although it is of course one of the state's islands of progressivism. Myself and other students from out-of-state who I saw signing for their ballots weren't even asked for ID, and the only problem was the 4 hour wait (some people on their way out said they had waited for 5). It seems like very few people gave up on waiting in line, and there were volunteers all over the place giving out food and drinks.

GeorgeNov 02, 2004 at 6:00PM

I voted here in Elmwood Park, IL (a suburb of Chicago) with my 19-year-old daughter, who was voting for the first time. We arrived at 6:20 a.m., and there were no lines, but about 8-10 people who were already voting. Punch cards with a scan check afterward to prevent over-voting. I always find this a very moving experience (what a wonk!) and today was especially so because it was my daughter's first vote. I hope this election sparks a renewed interest in our democracy. Good luck to all of us. Go Kerry!

Elliot GlaysherNov 02, 2004 at 6:02PM

I voted at 10:30 this morning in Ann Arbor, MI, at a run down high school in the middle of an area mostly inhabited by students. The lines weren't that bad; I only had to wait about 5 minutes to sign in, and another 5 minutes in a line with my ballot for an available booth to mark my ballot. I've heard some people complain about hour long lines, though.

The voting machines were optical scans, so I'm relatively sure my vote will count...

Joe D'AgostinoNov 02, 2004 at 6:02PM

My wife and I walked the one block to our polling place. We got there at 9:00 AM and there was a line of about ten people; a line is pretty rare for us. Some activist neighbors were outside with free cookies. We chatted a bit, got in line and voted uneventfully (although my wife chided me when I stage-whispered "Take THAT, ya bastard!"). The whole process took about 45 minutes. Including cookies.

NYU kidNov 02, 2004 at 6:03PM

Hey Carrie -- a lot of NYU dorms had voting places in their basements, both for NYU students and for others who live in the area. I know mine did (and boy, was it crowded!) and so did a couple of my friends. So that's why we weren't voting around 10th and University.

Jason CosperNov 02, 2004 at 6:03PM

Despite some of the snags everyone else hit today, my voting experience was deathly simple. I walked into my polling place at about 7:45am [pst] and was directed to the "green table". There I gave 3 little old ladies my name and address and they had me sign the registry. Not one of them asked for my ID - I guess knowing my name and address was enough.

When I went to take a picture of the ladies with my cameraphone, they asked me nicely not to. I kindly complied and asked if I could take a photograph in the booth. They said they didn't see a problem with that and directed me to the next lady who demonstrated the InkaVote [an ink based marking system] system to me. After I demonstrated that I had the hang of things, I was handed a ballot and pointed at an open booth. I voted, grabbed a photo of the process and wrapped my ballot in it's little paper holder.

When I turned around to slide my ballot into the box I ran into a neighbor of mine. She's worked at the polls as long as I could remember. She asked how my Mom, Dad and brother were and said they were expecting things to pick up a bit before 9 and get really heavy from lunch on out. Another voter approached the box so we said our goodbyes and I headed outside.

Just as I was leaving, a gentleman in his 50's who was sitting in the bed of his truck waved me over. He asked me if I wanted a copy of today's newspaper and offered me my choice of the USA Today, LA Times, OC Register or Press-Telegram. Apparently he was going to hang out at the poll giving them away until he ran out of newspapers. I picked up the USA Today for the Jon Stewart article in the Life section, gave him a few bucks to buy some more papers [or at least help him recoup his costs] and walked to my bus stop.

Joe D'AgostinoNov 02, 2004 at 6:04PM

Oops. And we're in Philadelphia, PA.

AbbyNov 02, 2004 at 6:04PM

No trouble in small-town, NH. Voted this morning around nine, there was a line for one of the other tables (sorted by last name), but not mine. Gave my name, verified my address, got my ballot. NH has the paper ballots with the ovals you fill in with a felt-tipped pen, which imho is one of the better methods. Fed the ballot into the scanner, walked out past the table of folks doing same-day registration (eight or ten folks, lots of young people, hooray), went to class.

Ted BrunsNov 02, 2004 at 6:06PM

Live just outside of Cincinnati in Butler County. I dropped my son off at his school and the polling place was empty although I was not allowed to vote there because it was a different precinct. Went to my proper polling place and it was packed with people, fairly orderly although not enough parking. The actual process went smooth, pencilled in my choices and split. Overall it took about a hour and a half.

chrisNov 02, 2004 at 6:11PM

Utterly Unremarkable.

Walked in. For some reason, the "L-Q" line wasn't. The other 4 lines had about 10 people in them. That's kinda odd, is the "L-Q" election lady that much faster than everyone else, or are there not that many "L-Q"'s showing up?

In and out less than 5 minutes. Took me longer to walk to and from my car than to get a ballot and vote. My county uses the "color in the circle" paper ballots, which I like.

Zack CerzaNov 02, 2004 at 6:11PM

I'm a student originally from Ithaca, NY. I've been at school in Boston, MA for a few years now, and have transferred my registration over. I was too young to vote in 2000, and this was my first time voting in any election. When I reregistered by mail in MA, the confirmation letter stated that I needed to bring a valid photo ID or something like a utility bill with my address on it. I brought my passport, which has my NY address, and an electric bill with my MA address.

When I got to my polling place only 2 blocks from my apartment in Boston, I was almost surprised at how few people were there. I waited in a 3-person line for about 2 minutes. The election officials were extremely kind... so kind, in fact, that they didn't even want to see my ID when I tried to show it to them. I peeked at their book, and next to my name (and not many others) was "**ID**" - go figure.

Ballotts were of the bubble-sheet type, where you color in the ovals to make your selections. They had us voting at these tiny tables, each of which had roughly 3-foot-high walls in the shape of an X (if looked at from the top) to separate workspaces, and we were given the little triangle of surface between the arms of the X to write on. There weren't any curtains. It didn't bother me, but as the ballot was about twice the size of the surface I had to write on and there were people constantly milling about, there really wasn't any privacy. I carefully made my marks with the felt-tipped pen, got checked-out by the checkout guard, and slid my ballot face-down into the large, black AccuVote machine.

I was a little disappointed that there were no "I Voted!" stickers. :)

Steve ChampeonNov 02, 2004 at 6:15PM

Raleigh, NC

Went at around 10:30, was pretty busy (it's a church up the street,
about four blocks from my house, in the Historic Oakwood neighborhood just north of downtown). About a dozen people in line
in front of me; the typical boosters outside the church but nobody
standing over the line they'd taped in front of the door (labeled "no
campaigning beyond this point"). All in all fairly well-behaved. The lady
behind the desk (in the A-F line) never asked for my photo ID, but did
insist that I speak my name aloud even though I was carrying my
voter registration card.

Brief moment of comedy as another election worker asked to borrow her
book ("did I do something wrong?") but it turned out she was verifying
that Mike Easley, the governor of NC, was allowed to vote in our
district (he was). He'd called and was on his way to vote. The woman in
front of me was holding her two-year-old, and kept repeating over and
over how important this was. The election official mentioned how she
was just thrilled to see those Afghans voting a few weeks ago, women
and everything, and we all agreed that was a great thing, etc. I dunno if
she was a Republican or what.

Voting itself was quick, though there were too few booths so we had to
sit at tables in the center of the room and fill out our ballots without the
usual privacy. Took about 20 minutes, start to finish.

DarrelNov 02, 2004 at 6:16PM

St. Paul, MN. Walked the block to the church where we vote. Took about an hour to get through the line. Definitely a longer wait than usual. Did the fill-in-the-bubble and we were done. There was a moveon.org booth outside across the street. Otherwise, not much else to report.

We're traditionally a low-turnout neihborhood, so the wait in line was quite refreshing actually.

JacobNov 02, 2004 at 6:17PM

I'd actually never voted in person before. I'd voted in most every election since turning 18, but for various reasons involving health insurance, wasn't a resident of my own city and had to vote absentee. Walking past that red, white and blue curtain for the first time at the old age of 23 was a thrill - as a kid I always used to go with my mother, and it always seemed like something terribly special to go into that secret booth and decide the fate of the country.

So, I was a kid. Kids are allowed to be idealistic, right?

Anyway, to answer how it went, it was all very quick. The coworker I ride with told our boss we were leaving at 3:30 to vote - which our boss, bless his heart, agreed to immediately - and I got in in the lull between the lunch and the after-work rushes, so outside of being behind three or four people to pick up my ballots, there was hardly any wait. I didn't have the vaguest clue what to do, but I was able to just sort of amble through, herded like a cow. Worked for me.

The one thing that struck me as terribly odd was that I could hear the man in the booth next to mine asking his friend on a cell phone who to vote for. He was terribly eager to vote for the Green incumbent in our district, but didn't actually know what position the man was running for. Queer.

andrewNov 02, 2004 at 6:20PM

My voting experience was clean & simple: absentee. After hearing and reading plenty of evidence to doubt Diebold, I permanently registered absentee. San Diego has since outlawed touch-screen voting, but I still maintained my absentee status. It was easy, stress-free, and more satisfying than any past election.

*fingers crossed*

Paul WrenNov 02, 2004 at 6:21PM

I live in Scottsdale, AZ. I requested an Early Ballot via the Maricopa County Election Board's web site, and it arrived three weeks prior to the election.

It contained one contradiction: The ballot itself commanded me (in red lettering) to "use a black ballpoint pen, NOT a felt-tip pen", but an insert provided with the ballot had an instruction buried in a list of mundane instructions that said I should use a #2 pencil.

I used a pen, by the way.

Early ballots could be dropped at any polling station, but I went to my precinct site, anyway. There were at least 300 people queued up at 8:30 am, and they weren't moving very fast. I sheepishly walked past them all, squeezing around several people (they were all polite and kind), and handed my ballot over to a poll worker. After it was placed in the special box for Early Ballots, I got my sticker and was on my way.

My wife visited the same polling site around 10:00am, and was told the wait was in excess of three hours. Luckily, she was also just dropping off an early ballot!

ThirteenNov 02, 2004 at 6:22PM

Voted this morning in Kansas City, MO. Got to the steps of the church where the voting was to take place, and there was a line extending from the vestibule down the stairs to the sidewalk. Voters with A-I and T-Z last names had no wait, and they told you so as soon as you got into line, so I was able to be in and out within 10 minutes. My boyfriend wasn't so lucky, and had to wait outside in the wind with the rest of the mid-alphabet mob.

We have the punch cards that you hook into a holder beneath a spiral-bound book of candidates and referendae. A little odd for me; my last voting experience was in Boston, with the old red-lever machines that issue a satisfying THUNK when you pull to cast your vote. The odd little *spiff* sounds that accompany the hole-punches don't have nearly the same reassuring timbre. I made sure to double and triple-check my ballot before popping it into the envelope and handing it to the nice lady at the ballot box.

All in all though, the process went pretty well. Saw a real cross-section of folks - older residents, a lot of minority voters (many of whom were commenting on how this would be their first time voting). One young (maybe 19 or 20) mother was in the stall next to me with her little daughter, and there were quite a few college-age and young-twenties-looking kids that I saw. Poll workers were friendly and helpful, and didn't seem too disorganized. The poll observer said that they'd had quite a turnout already - 400 folks was his estimate at 8:45 in the morning, and he'd said there was a line of about 20 people waiting when the poll opened at 6am, I gather it was a pretty rare occurrance in his experience.

All in all, I felt weirdly elated this morning after completing my ballot, but the elation has been replaced by a gnawing sort of jumpiness as the day wears on. KC is pretty solidly Democratic overall, but the state as a whole is another thing entirely. I plan on spending the evening at a friend's house, watching the returns and feeding the nervousness with beer and bean dip.

Lloyd VancilNov 02, 2004 at 6:23PM

I voted in Santa Clara county California this a.m. It was my first experience with an electronic voting machine. Up till now we used punch cards. My impression of the machine was favorable but I would have liked to have some indication of the success of it recording my vote on the smart card.
It did not bring up the first screen of the ballott until I had pushed the card all of the way in and the smart card drive grabbed it. I was able to get all of the way through the process without problems. Then at the end a BIG yellow button appeared that said something like "press here to record your vote" when I did that the machine ejected the card.
It wasn't until I got to work and read some of the stuff on http://www.boingboing.net/ that I began to wonder about the actual counting for these machines.
I did not see anyone ask for a paper ballott. It would have been interesting because there wasn't anywhere to mark a paper ballott in privacy.
There was one couple who came in with "absentee" ballotts and asked if they could turn them in. They were accepted after some back and forth.
I over heard one of the workers saying that a new voter had to prove thier identity but others didn't. That struck me as odd, as I have always presented my driver's license.
My impression of the turnout at opening was that it was higher than the last presidential I voted in.
I think we are all in for some surprises.


SeanNov 02, 2004 at 6:24PM

Voted in Springfield Township, Pennsylvania (right outside of Philadelphia...and I mean right outside, like 1/2 mile). No lines at all. I was in and out in about 10 minutes. They asked me for ID but just because I was a new resident. Everyone who'd voted at the polling location before just whizzed on through. The voting system was a sort of analog touch screen...pressure sensitive buttons on a big white board with all the candidates on it. Touch the button and the light next to your candidate goes on. Pretty quick and simple!

Go Kerry!

Nguyen NguyenNov 02, 2004 at 6:26PM

I live in Maryland, so there was no chance for paper votes, but the machines seemed to worked fine... as long as my vote counted (for Kerry) that's all that matters.

When I got the elementary school about half an hour after it was open for voting, the line had already gotten to just outside of the front door. I even had to park on the grass lawn like several others. I made my way up to the door as a man questioned if I had thought about who to vote for among the County Judge nominees, and I replied that I actually hadn't thought about them. So he gave me a piece of paper showing the which sides the nominees were on. We had to choose 4 out of 5 of them, and since four of them are supported by both Republicans and Democrats, it was a very easy choice... I think the remaining one that I didn't vote for later was either with the Green or the Libertarians Passing by a table of elderly Democrats who nodded and smiled at me, I was approached by a small European woman who randomly handed (read: shoved) some brochures at me. I looked down at them in surprise to check who they were for.. and sure enough, a big bold "Bush" was on the cover. "Hey.. uuh.. I don't want this..!" I exclaimed in front of everyone as the woman promptly tried to walk away. I turned to the gray-haired Democrats chuckling with a "WTF?" look and was about to ask for a trash can when the one nearest to me said "Just give it back to her, then." With obvious dissappointment the woman took back the brochures and turned away towards the Republican table, which seemed so lonely by the side with no one stopping by (this is a largly Democratic state afterall, the school's lawn was decked out with Kerry signs everywhere, with a few Bush ones in between). I turned back to the Democrats and one of them stood there smilingly holding up a Kerry/Edwards brochure, knowing which side I was on. "I do want one of those," I said, reaching for the brochue he was expecting me to take.

I got in line behind a middle-aged Republican who had witnessed the whole situation. For the next hour we had some interesting banter since we are on opposing parties and are both programmers. He called all the bad things people say about bush "bullshit" while I tried to defend my choice of Kerry based on the economic situation bush had put us under. In between we'd discuss what programming languages were being used more widely nowadays and university tuition when he attened back in the 80's ($300 for a class!) compared to today ($300 for a credit!). It was friendly and polite enough, but it was mostly due to the fact that it was 8 am and I hadn't had any caffiene yet to be fired up about voting for Kerry. The Republican, on the other hand, seemed a bit nonchalant about casting his vote, since it probably wouldn't really affect anything in such a Democratic state.

The line was so long that they had to set up more registration tables and split people up by name. First everyone from P to Z were pulled to another line, then as we got closer both the Republican and I got on the line for H to O. All in all it went as comfortable as my first time voting could have. I was a bit perplexed by the electronic touchscreen voting because of all the rumors I've heard about hackers able to interfere when they transfer the vote to headquarters, but considering this isn't a swing state I wasn't too worried about that happening.

Hassan AlamdariNov 02, 2004 at 6:33PM

I live in Calabasas, California. I voted at the local high school at 7:00am. There were people ahead of me and there were some young people willing to show people how to use the new system. The only problem is that no one checked anyone's identity. Yep, the deaf lady who wanted me to sign the register in the wrong place did not check my id. I purposely did not bring my sample ballot to see if anyone would check my id. I got my answer. The entire time that I was there not one id was checked. Hooray a smooth election process.
Thank god I'm going to see Brian Wilson tonight instead of going crazy.

Matthew NewtonNov 02, 2004 at 6:35PM

I voted this morning in Oakland, California, a stone's throw away from the Grand Lake Theater, whose marquee has been warning of the dangers of e-voting for several months.

The pollworkers at my precinct were very open about the option to vote on paper instead of the evil Diebold voting machines. While I was there, everyone was asked, "machine or paper?" and about 1/3 answered "paper."

Problem: If you didn't bring a pen of your own, you couldn't vote on paper, as the pollworkers had no pens to loan out.

Craig MitchellNov 02, 2004 at 6:38PM

I voted in Villa Ridge, Missouri - a small farming community town 45 minutes west of St. Louis. The setting: the aging gymnaseum of a local elementary school. There were colorful laminated signs with various cartoon characters on the walls. They were directed at the grade schoolers but hey, they might very well have been aimed at the voters too. One that caught my attention: "Think. Every action has consequences." Indeed.

It was easily an hour and a half wait. I had a book and my Gameboy Advance to keep me entertained. I need to stress: elderly volunteers - god bless 'em - but they REALLY slowed down the line. For example, when I got to the front of the line the woman that was helping me took a few minutes just to get to the correct letter of my last name in voter registration book. Then she passed the three or four "warm" pages close to my last name until I finally intervened and started giving her directions. There were other examples, but I don't want to sound to hard on the elderly because I'm well aware that I'm going to be one of them someday.

Without going into too much detail, this is a very emotional election for me. For too many reasons, I do not wish to see Bush's actions of the past four years go rewarded with another term.

Having said that, there were no pooched, pregnant or otherwise hanging chads on my ballot. I put so much vehemence into it, the chads were banging off the back of the booth. The booth itself was rocking. You could *hear* me voting.

Laura GNov 02, 2004 at 6:43PM

I vote in Washington (the state) and we voted a week ago via Absentee. Easy fill-in-the-bubble ballot, as clear as it could possibly be. When I went to work this morning I was told that the polls are jammed, despite the flooding in our area.

Frank PaynterNov 02, 2004 at 6:47PM

Voted around 8am in the Town of Dunn, Dane county, Wisconsin. Marked a paper ballot that was fed into an optical scanner. I was number 176. I always vote and usually around the same time and I am used to being number 40 or 60, so the high number told me there will be a big turn-out today.

Something that amused me (or "humored me" as Danah would say) was the tidy Republican lady poll watcher. This is a generally Democrat area, farmers, laborers, white collar workers... plenty of Repubs, but they're a minority. These people are honest, direct, and always want to do the next right thing. The presence of a poll watcher was humorous indeed. But she sat there in her red sweater, silk bunting scarf, tight short cropped white-haired coif, wool straight skirt and nylons - quite attractive really. What a boring day she must have had.

Danny CohenNov 02, 2004 at 6:52PM

Finally, I got to vote. They read my address at 401, instead of 701, so I had to go somewhere else to vote, but it was a short line

I hope Jury Duty is as fun a civic duty as Voting

Jessica CongerNov 02, 2004 at 6:56PM

I'm 20 and this was my first time voting. I would have voted in local elections the second I turned 18, but I went away to college and lost touch with my area. Now I'm back in my hometown of Middletown, NY and I was very excited to vote. There was just about no one at my polling center when I got there. We just had one voting machine. I signed the book next to my name and got to go over to the big blue-green machine. I told the woman there that this was my first time and I was excited. An elderly man walked out of the booth and said "This would be a lot more exciting if they handed you a $10 bill after". Then it was my turn. When I pulled that big red lever to close the curtains, it really felt like I was doing something. I clicked my choices down and pulled the big red lever the other way, locking in my votes forever. I really like the booths, I feel like I'm accomplishing something, like my vote actually counts. I don't think I'd deal well with electronic voting. As I left I thanked the election volunteers and wished them a good day. I really liked voting and I can't wait to sit up and watch the results come in.

Paul BegleyNov 02, 2004 at 6:56PM

New Jersey (Exit 4).

Rode my bike to the polls at 6:15 this morning. I have been voting at the same poll since 1996, but never this early. It was not crowded, but there was already a steady stream of voters in and out of the school.

I saw several of my neighbors. Why are retired people up and voting at 6:15? I was inspired that so many people are making a real effort to vote.

There were problems at two polling places in Mount Laurel - a person came into the polling area at two schools, threw a white powder which forced an evacuation of the schools and a temporary closure of the polls.

The kids were sent home because they were only scheduled for a half day anyway and the polls were re-opened.

Next national election, I think they have to consider closing the schools for security reasons.

Wiley WigginsNov 02, 2004 at 6:59PM

First time voter. The voting machines were simple to use and I can only hope that my vote wasn't dissapeared somewhere in its electric bowels, only to end up as spam in some little old man's AOL inbox in Topeka.

Straight ballot voting was easy enough, although I heard stories locally of straight democratic ballots suddenly and mysteriously changing their presidential selection to Bush. The kindly octogenarians at hand were helpful and the line to vote was short (I voted on one of the first early voting days). It was a little disconcerting for me to vote in a supermarket though.. right next to the lottery ticket dispenser.

PierreNov 02, 2004 at 7:00PM

At our polling place in Eagan, MN (suburb of St. Paul) we had a 15 minute wait to register and 15 minutes in line for a ballot and booth. The election judges were all talking about how many first-timers there were - mainly in the 18-25 agegroup. MN had 70% voter turnout in 2000 (best in USA), and the local radio stations are predicting that we will beat that this year.

BobNov 02, 2004 at 7:01PM

Phoenix, AZ -- My fiance and I arrived at 7:45am to the local polling place. Three people in line, got our paper ballots, connected the arrows and zwooped them in to the machine. It took five minutes.

All things in life should be that easy.

MattNov 02, 2004 at 7:04PM

Looked my polling up place her in California online. Just a paper ballot no machine to punch holes in it or anything. The simplest I have ever seen. Just draw a line to connect the arrow next to your choice. Easy.

Jaime MaciasNov 02, 2004 at 7:08PM

Walked right on in - stood behind neighbor I never speak to. He nodded, I nodded. He said "let's not talk about politics". i said "I hope he loses too". We both chuckled and he walked off to vote. After about 2 minutes of searching for my name in the logs, the helpful poll attendant let me scribble next to my name. I walked over to the "voting closet" and chuckled as I ink voted my aggression/hope into that piece of paper. All in all 8 minuted tops. And now the heavy drinking begins.

Timothy MeierNov 02, 2004 at 7:13PM

Walked into my polling place and went through the usual stuff to get my ballot. No punch card or electronic voting this time, we had to use a felt tip pen to mark my ballot.

After I finished I went to drop off the ballot, but the machine had jammed and the poll worker had to wave over a assistant to fix the problem. Once it was fixed I fed my ballot into the box and collected my sticker.

Todd BNov 02, 2004 at 7:18PM

Voted by absentee ballot in Los Angeles, California. Found it quite confusing to match up the answer numbers in the booklet with those on the card. Easy to confuse proposition #s with punch #s. Had to be very careful. Could be a lot clearer. I guess that's what you get when you have government running things.

DystoposNov 02, 2004 at 7:23PM

I drove by on the way to work "just to check out the line" and decided to go ahead and get in it. I called in to work at 7:56 to say I was in line. The line snaked around two fire trucks in the fire station's garage bay (which kept everyone out of the drizzle). Everybody seemed happy and proud once they got over their first glance at the line.

The makeup of the crowd was completely heterogeneous (unshaved shorts-wearing men, yuppie blondes, fearless black mavens, tie-wearing african americans, unsteady elderly men, chipper women in business suits, at least two or three gay couples, lots of medical scrubs, some babies). The line moved smoothly and ultimately I had my ballot within 40 minutes. One of the poll workers was probably senile, but there were at least 8 there, plus a sheriff's deputy outside. I marked my (optical scan) ballot and fed it into the machine, got my sticker, and got to work just before 9:00.

That's the news from the my Alabama neighborhood, where all the women are churchgoers, all the men live at Home Depot, and all the children look adorable on Halloween.

MikeNov 02, 2004 at 7:27PM

I voted in Madison, WI at a local church and Catholic School. I was able to register to vote at the polls. After providing a residential lease agreement, my WI driver's license and completing two forms, I was given a number printed on a ticket to exchange for a ballot.

The City Clerk's web site also suggested bringing other documents with name and address printed on them e.g. utility bills, bank statements, tax refund check receipt. I brought some extra proof, but I wasn't asked to show anything other than the license and the lease.

The forms required my current address, my previous address, disclosure of birth date, and an affirmation that I was older than 18 years and a U.S. citizen. A question on one of the registration forms asked whether or not I would volunteer to work at the polls on election days; I checked Yes.

The process moved smoothly. The volunteers working at the polls were very patient, polite and helpful. I arrived at the polling place at quarter of five. The registration process took about 10 minutes.

After I exchanged the the ticket for a ballot, I waited less than 2 minutes to cast my vote. The ballot was optically scanned and then I was finished. The whole process from beginning to end took less than 15 minutes. Dozens of people streamed into the polling place during the time it took me to register and vote.

I noticed a man, dressed in a suit, wearing an ear plug, holding a small, digital video camer in his sand at his side. I didn't see him using the video camera.

Outside the polling place, across the street, a man sat in a lawn chair under the setting sun wearing a sash that said moveon pac. He held a clipboard and a pen in his hands. I saw him when I walked in and I saw him when I walked out. I didn't see him rise from the chair, and I didn't see him talking with anyone.

The whole process was very efficient and everyone who came to the polls appeared to be cooperating with the process and everyone looked to be content that the process was working correctly.

If you're in Madison, WI and you're reading this now (6:30 PM), there's still one and a half hours until the polls closed. If you haven't voted, go now, please.

SmartAssNov 02, 2004 at 7:31PM

I just love where I live. Banks, Doctors, Hospital, Restaurants, Stores, all close by. That's especially handy if you have to drive yourself to the hospital at 3 AM with a burst appendix. But I digress from my election story.

So, my polling place is just five blocks away at the Jewish Community Center. After hearing about long lines in the hot FL sun, I decided to wait until 5:30. I just strolled down, late afternoon, walked in, no line, voted and went home. Quick, easy, convenient, no fuss, no muss.

Althought I hate the electronic voting with NO paper trail. FL goes from hanging chads to votes held hostage. Don't get me wrong: don't mind technology one bit. Although I do have problems with the people controlling the technology without proper checks and balances in place.

Especially considering what passes as checks and balances in the sunny and unfunny state of FL.

Oh well. Other than that, no trauma or horror stories to report here. Hope everyone got off their ass and VOTED, although I have a gut feeling its gonna be the same ole, same ole.

P.S. Thanks for the poll earlier, Jason, but not too surprisingly your audience leans left and is not quite indicative of national polling trends.

Me FirstNov 02, 2004 at 7:36PM

Today was my first experience voting in someone's living room. They didn't even bother to move the couch out of their cramped quarters, so the little portable voting tables were crammed together, and I filled out my ballot with my back pressed up against another voter doing the same.

It didn't help matters that two people were checking incoming voters against the registration lists -- but then each pair of checked voters were run through two individual additional registration list checkers, one at a time. It was a pointless and ridiculous bottleneck.

On the plus side, everyone was nice, and when someone who brought their baby in a stroller had to leave their child on the front porch (no room inside), each person in line kept a close eye to make sure they were sound asleep and safe.

On the minus side, this overcrowded residence is on a street with no sidewalks and no streetlights, and poor lighting on the address number of the house. I can't imagine how someone older or timid will feel, walking down the middle of this unfamiliar street in the dark, worried that they're in the right place and not going to be mugged/hit by a car. Bad, bad planning.

FezziwigNov 02, 2004 at 7:38PM

I voted bright and early this morning in Vallejo California and it was pretty much trouble free. Ye olde church ladies were running the show with an iron fist and would suffer no shenanigans. One guy a few paces ahead of me in line got a cane poke in the small of his back from a poll worker for yacking on his cell phone too loud. He wisely put it away.

My name was on the roles but it had a grey box next to it that said "Identification Required" for some reason. So I had to show my ID. I'm not sure as to why though. I've lived (and been registered to vote) at the same address for over 7 years. Perhaps it was some kind of spot check.

JaycattNov 02, 2004 at 7:38PM

I voted a little over a week ago. For some reason, all our ballots have to be absentee, even this one. It was a simple procedure: connect the broken arrow with a ball point pen. Nothing to punch out or match up. Very easy.

RandieNov 02, 2004 at 7:38PM

Last time I voted there was a long line, but this time there was a parking spot close by the school and no line to speak of.
Took me no time at all since I knew who I wanted to vote for.
Hubby said, "so fast?" Then he went in. He took much longer. When he reappeared I asked why. Says he wanted to read all the lines. He didn't vote as I had anticipated. Cool.

JaycattNov 02, 2004 at 7:39PM

Oh, I'm in Eugene, Oregon, forgot to mention that.

Momo the MonsterNov 02, 2004 at 7:46PM

Voting was held walking distance from my Los Angeles loft at a local Christian Fellowship Joint. The wait was reasonably short - maybe 20 minutes. Two things disturbed me. One: The head lady had a big 'GOD IS GOOD' button on her jacket, and they had placed Christian Propaganda Pamphlets within easier reach than the Voter Information Guides.

I saw a lot of people pick this up and take it back to their seat before they realized what they had grabbed. That's a dirty stinking trick.

I had to vote provisionally because I wasn't on the list, and I'm a little worried. Normally I would possibly be assuaged by the suggestion that I wasn't on the list because I've only lived in the neighborhood five months, but the whole church thing was really making me uneasy at this point.

bethNov 02, 2004 at 7:48PM

My friend and I walked into our polling place at the regional airport (Ithaca, NY). There was no line. The volunteers asked my name, found me in the book, had me sign (no ID or nuthin'!) and then I went over to the booth with the levers.

New York is still using lever machines; you flip the little switches and then pull the Big Red Lever. Since I've only voted by absentee before (I used to be a PA resident, always at school when election time came around) it was pretty neato.

Like every other voter I met today, I was given a little sticker with a flag on it that says "I Voted!".

DennisNov 02, 2004 at 7:55PM

Went in to my polling place (the elementary school) here in East Freetown, MA fairly early, about 7:45AM, en route to the office for the day. Only had to wait briefly while the woman in front of me straightened out where she was supposed to vote -- guess she was the only house on the (new) street, registered a little over a year ago, but hadn't voted in town yet. Not sure whether they got her straightened out, but there was a call to town hall in the works to figure things out.

No lines at all, but there's fewer than 5,000 registered voters in town in multiple precincts, so it's never all that busy to start with. Simple paper ballot of the connect-the-arrow-head-and-tail variety, as usual. Other than the Presidential election, we only have 2 contested seats (our rep to Congress and a particularly nasty race for local sheriff,) so about 40 seconds later I was handing in my completed ballot and on my way.

Looked quite a bit busier when I passed on my way home at 7:00PM.

What surprised me was the almost total lack of folks out with signs boosting their candidates -- only 2 this morning, both boosting one candidate for sheriff, and less than a dozen when I drove by tonight.

Sean BurkeNov 02, 2004 at 7:59PM

Voting in Ketchikan, Alaska, November 2004

I live in Ketchikan, a tourist town on Revilla island, in the Southeast Alaskan archipelago, a part of the US the size of Ireland and with about the same climate.

Everything here has a singular definite object: The fire station. The record store. The pharmacy. The Walmart. The prison. So, I walked to the polling place, which is at the mall. I went at an ungodly hour of 10am, but was rewarded with wonderful weather, the first clear skies in at least a week.

I expected a long line at the polls, so I brought my mp3 player and a book. But I ended up having to wait only three or four minutes. A pleasant old woman at a table signed me in and handed what looked like a file-folder, said "front and back", and directed me to a curtained booth. I stepped in and opened the folder -- it just contained a double-sided scantron form, which stuck out past the top of the folder just a bit. That's the ballot, front-and-back.

I filled out the ballot with the pen provided, closed the folder, and stepped out. I cast the ballot, which consisted of putting the folder in what looked like the tray on a big laser printer -- except that it was actually the feeder to a scanner, which catches the top of the ballot sticking out, and snaps it out of the folder, sight unseen. The machine went click, then a lady gives me a blue sticker with the flag constellation design on it that says "I VOTED". I wish I'd gotten a receipt from the machine tho. I can see how something that'd give you a receipt while still being confidential would be a bit of a complicated design, but hey, we put people into space, so I think we can design a printer with a page-folder.

Then I went to the diner and consumed pancakes.

AbbyNov 02, 2004 at 8:02PM

I got to the polls this morning at 7:45am here in Memphis, TN. I voted at a church in Midtown. There was a long line in which I stood for about 20 minutes, until I reached the door. The people standing in the line in front of me near the door said that we all needed to move into another line to the right. There were no signs saying what the lines were for or even that there was more than one. Once I reached the front of that line, I showed ID at a table, and upon seeing my Indiana driver's license, the elderly woman helping me asked me if I was sure I was registered. "Yes," I said. I guess she'd never met anyone from out of state before. Once I had my little piece of paper with my ballot number on it, she told me to go back to the end of the long line I'd waited in the first time. Apparently, that was the line for the people with last names beginning with H-P. See, they had it set up so that if you had a last name beginning with H-P, your wait ended up being about 45 minutes, and if your last name ended with A-G or Q-Z, the entire process took about 5 minutes. Genius. I had been there so long that I was doing more to direct the flow of traffic than the volunteers who were supposed to be working the place.

BryanNov 02, 2004 at 8:07PM

I registered to vote in Fairfax Virginia about three weeks ago. The procudure took literally about 5 minutes, and I didn't even have to show any ID!

I arrived at the local polling station, a church, this morning at about 9:30 AM. There were two men in standing in front of the church handing out flyers -- one Democrat and one Republican. They were having a friendly chat as they waited for people to walk by. :) Basically, the little flyers showed how to vote if you planned on supporting the Democrats or the Republicans.

It took me roughly an hour to cast my vote. Two short lines separated people by last name for the registration desk, and there was one very long, snaking line around the inside for the booths. You show your photo ID at the registration desk, they look you up in their book, and then you're given a little card to hand to the people manning the five booths. There seemed to be two independent observers, one for teach table, watching the proceedings.

The voting machines were touchscreen, and were simple to use. I asked for a paper ballot at the registration desk, and the volunteer had to look it up in her rulebook. Sadly, it read something to the effect of "Per Virginia code , this location is not allowed to issue a paper ballot in lieu of an electronic ballot." Ah well, I tried.

And yes, I got the little sticker, too.

garrettNov 02, 2004 at 8:13PM

I voted this afternoon before working second shift at the library. I was excited, nervous and committed...which is how I feel whenever I vote.

I was sad to see how old the election judges are though. Nothing against those grey panther types, I just thought it was sad that no one my age, 26, or younger was there as part of the process. Next election cycle I'm getting signing up to poll sit.

Weird thing: There were a bunch of Alan Keyes "supporters" outside my polling place. They were just outside the legal limit for protestors/signs and were just obnoxious. I complained to the people inside and they said "Those guys are nuts, but as long as they stay outside the perimeter we can't do a thing.

JerryNov 02, 2004 at 8:15PM

I live in Huntsville, Alabama. My wife spent 45 minutes in line at the polling place this morning. My mother-in-law spent 10 minutes there this afternoon. I arrived at 4:59pm and walked straight in, no line, no wait at all.

My name was easy for the poll worker to find as it was one of the few not already been marked off as having voted earlier in the day. The voter list was a big stack of greenbar printer paper... haven't seen greenbar in a long time.

Our ballot is on paper, and one connects to halves of an arrow to indicate your choice. You feed the sheet into a scanner afterward.

I'm still wearing my sticker.

mNov 02, 2004 at 8:20PM

In and out in 15 minutes. Very smooth on the Diebold. Kerry goes to MD

aNov 02, 2004 at 8:31PM

i voted absentee ballot from texas... very easy and done timely, although they said "use only provided marker" which they didn't provide... hope pencil works.

coolgovNov 02, 2004 at 8:33PM

Voting went pretty smoothly here in Tempe, AZ. It was fairly busy this morning at 7:30, but everyone seemed cool. Had to vote with a provisional ballot, but I can track whether it was accepted or not on a county website.

I like that. They seemed prepared.

It was kinda rad to see all my neighbors out in one place like that. People I'd seen from around the 'hood, all gathered in one place, voting.

Our ballot was a connect the arrow style, pretty easy to understand... although it took me a sec to pick up the idea. It was far too easy to write in candidates -- if Mr. T becomes our next corporation commissioner, then I'm afraid you have me to blame.

Kyle HamiltonNov 02, 2004 at 8:34PM

I was unable to vote this election because I moved from Wisconsin to Arizona, the day after Arizona's voter registration eligibility closed. I attempted to locate a means of getting an absentee ballot from Wisconsin, but I was unable to find any information on the Wisconsin Secretary of State's home page when I looked 2 weeks ago. (Since then, I note that they have added an 'Elections Board' link at the bottom of their page, which includes directions for applying for an absentee ballot.)


KarynNov 02, 2004 at 8:39PM

Even though I'm 25 years old this was my first time voting. I had been grossly apathetic toward the whole process but after years of bitching it was time to put my money where my mouth is.

When I walked into the polling place and told them I was a first time voter and didn't know the process, they burst into applause and congratulated me. They apparently had been doing that for every young person who mentioned it was their first time voting. It felt amazing. The actual voting went pretty smooth, I was in and out within 10 minutes.

No sticker saying I voted though, just a really great feeling.

SteveNov 02, 2004 at 8:40PM

North Bend, WA - very smooth, poll workers were polite and even chatty. When I arrived (9AM), there were only 2 other people voting and no line. I said, " What?!? No lines, no media?" and they reply that they had a short line when they opened and that I came at a good time. According to the machine in which I deposited my ballot I was the 104th voter today. Pen and blacken-in-the-bubble ballots. Very smooth.

JasonNov 02, 2004 at 8:41PM

It was interesting and likely illegal that the only personn in the line of voters askedto show ID was the guy with the baggy sweatshirt and the ratty baseball cap. This was in Indiana where allthe pollworkers are at least 60.

Pam J.Nov 02, 2004 at 8:42PM

I voted this morning in Hoboken, NJ. Last night it was a guessing game in regard WHERE to vote, since our esteemed city council of the bribed and the busted couldn't find it in their coffers to mail us the information post-registration. Fortunately, it was posted on ihoboken.com. My entire building (all 16 floors of us..) turned up at the local elementary school where the unsuspecting clerks were flabbergasted at the lines extending outside of the gym and past the classrooms. Fortunately Hudson County (County Motto: Vote early And Often - see Jersey City as a prime example) has it down to a science. Pile into line one (30 minutes) and sign the book (a copy of previously submitted registration scanned signature to prove your identity is used as the comparison). Receive a numbered ticket for your ward and sign an AFFIDAVIT that you are you (multiple personalities notwithstanding...) Take the ticket and wait on line 2 (30 minutes). Chat up the rest of my building and discover they really should have another voting booth with machine. The numbered ticket is claimed by an "old timer" county clerk who USES THREAD to join it to her pile of numbered tickets, just in case the electronic machine goes down, they will know who voted and at what time. Did you get the THREAD and SEWING Part? After that, no problem. Button Button Button, vote against the Pay-to-Play nonsence that occurs here with alarming frequency, hit the RED Button and DONE. Next year, no doubt, they'll be taking blood samples and comparing retinal scans and DNA.

GaryNov 02, 2004 at 8:44PM

Here in Arlington County, Virginia voting went very smoothly. I went around 4:30 before the after-work rush. My wife and I voted AND shewas even able to fill out a form to change her name on the registration in about 25 minutes.

ClaraNov 02, 2004 at 8:45PM

Any idiot can vote without problems, right? That's what I thought . . . until I reached the voting booth in my Upper West Side district (in NYC) and found some of the knobs literally stuck. The machine lists candidates with a pointy grey knob next to each name, and you're supposed to turn the knob 90 degrees. Some swiveled easy (I tested a few), but my presidential candidate's knob required a good two minutes of grunting effort before it budged. Lower down on the ballot, I chose candidates (whose names were unfamiliar to me) based on which turned easily -- and which were stuck hard and fast in place. INSANITY. I hope this wasn't the case in swing states. It's about time we all got touch-screen votes.

doug nelsonNov 02, 2004 at 8:45PM

Davenport, Iowa
I've voted at same location for several years. This time, there was a steady stream of voters at 8:30 AM. We moved through in about five minutes. I was voter 262. Wife and daughter voted at noon, they were 530, 531. Usually set of seasoned citizen poll workers plus four poll watchers, two R and two D. This being Iowa everything was quite friendly.

Joe TerritoNov 02, 2004 at 8:47PM

Too Easy

I brought two of my children to vote with me at 6:15 or so this morning in my suburban town in the foothills of the Northwest New Jersey Highlands. I wanted them to experience the democratic process. Our experience was so un-eventful that it bordered on criminal.

What I mean by that is I could have easily committed fraud by casting a vote on the behalf of one of my neighbors. There was no line. I walked up the sign-in table, and looked at the registration book, which happened to be open to the page with my name on it. I pointed out my name to the poll worker. He asked my address. I read it to him off the page. He did not ask for any ID. I signed, and then I voted.

We should have federal laws that require voters to show their voter registration card. Such laws no doubt would be challenged by some lefties as setting up an intimidating barrier to voting. But requiring people to bring their voter registration card to the polling place is not much to ask in order to protect the integrity of selecting our leaders.

andyNov 02, 2004 at 8:48PM

Voting for me in Thornton, Colorado (outside of Denver) was pretty flawless. I was about 30th in line some ten minutes before the polls opened at 7am, and was out the door, voting complete, perhaps ten or fifteen past the hour.

The folks on hand orchestrating it did a pretty good job. Only complaint was that they were processing people faster than the voting booths were free, so I ended up pulling up a chair off to the side and filling out the electronic-scan form on a pile of boxes.

All in all, though, things went fine.

David RuleNov 02, 2004 at 8:48PM

Long time voter...never been able to stand someone else making my decisions...because we were moving, Karen and I went to vote on 1st day of early voting and was surprised to find a line of 30 to 40 here in Blount Co. TN. Process went smoothly and I was impressed with the patience and organization of the election comission staff and the poll workers.

MattNov 02, 2004 at 8:48PM

Bellevue, WA....quick, simple, easy. Paper ballot, fill-in-the dots, printed clearly. It's unbelieveable to me that anyone manages to make the process complicated and/or confusing; I guess I'm a starry-eyed, optimistic fool!

MosheNov 02, 2004 at 8:49PM

Minnesota - St Louis Park, West next to Minneapolis.
Long lines in the rain out the door about 7:30 AM, so I postponed voting til about 10:30 AM. No lines; zipped in and out; was asked to take off my Bush/Cheney hat (oops). I have never been asked for ID. Just signed my name, as always, in the big book. Although, the book now has computerized, bar coded labels in it. I believe they used to be handwritten 1,000 years ago. Nice election lady people. I love the election ladies. They are the mainstay of America.
I put the sticker on the bill of my hat, just below Bush/Cheney.
On the main street outside City Hall, a couple of Kerry guys waving signs.
All is well.

FredNov 02, 2004 at 8:49PM

I did early voting in Greensboro, NC on Wednesday. The line was fairly short. from the time I walked in until I walked out was a mere 20 minutes. No electioneering, no obnoxious people and competent poll workers.

ronboNov 02, 2004 at 8:49PM

Voted in Hoboken, NJ. On line @ 10.00, voted @ 11.00. Heard that polls opened late due to problems w/voting machines, can't confirm.

First year of electronic voting machines. Republicans weep. Can safely assume that Bush votes won't be counted in significant numbers and that Menendez will win for Congress w/105% of vote.

Ryan WilsonNov 02, 2004 at 8:53PM

Went pretty well, I wasn't real thrilled they didn't ask to see ID but verified my signature against a previous sample and double-logged the name and address. Not exactly a hotbed of political activity (medium sized town about 40 miles from Cleveland, OH) some older dude stumping for Kerry was out in the parking lot, he seemed nice enough but was far closer to the building than he should have been. Was unable to answer any of my (polite) questions about his candidate, which I expected. Easy vote for Bush, against the asinine OH gay marriage statue (which disappointly seems to have passed by a 3 to 2 margin) and for/against various local issues. They use a touch-screen set-up, seems easy enough that I can't imagine anyone having too much trouble using it.

Kenn ChristNov 02, 2004 at 8:56PM

Berkeley, CA, in Alameda County, which uses Diebold voting machines.

Despite the fact that I called the Alameda Country Registrar of Voters last week and confirmed that my SO and I had been registered, our names weren't on the list this morning. All we could do was fill out provisional ballots in the hope that it would be sorted out.

While we were there, a woman came in and requested a paper ballot, the way we were going to if we had been allowed to vote normally. The poll worker responded by giving her a provisional ballot too, saying that those are the only paper ballots they have. So that's how Alameda county is handling people who don't trust the electronic voting machines: they throw them in with the people who may or may not even be allowed to vote. That doesn't exactly fill me with confidence that these votes will actually be counted (as I understand provisional ballots often aren't).

Registration problems seemed to be a recurring theme this morning. While we were there we saw more people taking provisional ballots than using the machines. Unfortunately, it wasn't because people were requesting them, but because the rolls were so screwed up. To top it off, the poll location only had three (3) pens to fill them out with. Nice planning guys.

We spoke to the guy in charge afterward and registered our complaints about the registration problems, the way non-electronic votes were being handled, and the utter lack of organization and knowledge on the part of the poll workers, this guy included. He actually said that we seemed to know more about it than he did. This is not what I want to hear from the people in charge of collecting votes.

I called the registrar of voters afterward and confirmed again that we are registered and that we did in fact go the right polling location. The only explanation they could give me was that late registrations were sent to the voting locations separately and that maybe they weren't checking both lists. The woman I spoke to took down my complaint about this and the general incompetence we experienced and admitted that this doesn't come as a big shock to her. This last bit makes it even worse. If they are aware of the problems with the people running these things, why haven't they done something about it?

We added question marks to our stickers so they now read "I Voted?"

R WarfieldNov 02, 2004 at 8:57PM

Jersey City, NJ - smooth sailing. No line for my district, and they actually had my name ready to go, no ID check necessary, just a signature check. My wife wasn't on the roll so they checked her ID. We were both able to vote (cancelling each other out) quickly and without a hitch. The other district in my same polling place had quite a line. There seemed to be mostly first generation immigrants or at least a Spanish as a first language majority in the line for that district, but as there were multiple languages spoken by poll workers, I doubt there was a communications problem.

I always feel like I've done something important and good after I've voted. No matter where, when, or who the candidates are, I get an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction and pride. Corny maybe, but true.

Will GoreNov 02, 2004 at 8:57PM

Houston, Tx. Easy as pie. Texas appears to be largely still paper ballots. Harris county, however, has gone to electronic voting.

I voted quite early, about noon, and while the station was busy, there was no line. The voting stations stayed busy and largely full, but it did not appear to back up.

Everything went simply, I showed my voter registration and driver's license, signed the book they had, and moved on.

The voting stations themselves were quite easy to use; they were some sort of HP laptop variant. The software and interface was clean and simple. I was quite pleased with it on the whole. It seemed quite idiot proof.

All in all it was simple and quick.

gregNov 02, 2004 at 9:09PM

voting well pretty smoothly in Ann Arbor, MI. Long lines at 7:30 am, about a 60 min wait. good mix of young and old.

brianNov 02, 2004 at 9:10PM

Mine was pretty straight forward. I live in pensacola, fl and we had a paper ballot. I didn't have to wait for long. about 22 minutes until i could fill in my ballot.

I gave more details here, if you want to read more.

BeckyNov 02, 2004 at 9:11PM

I work in a public library and this morning we heard the lines were very long and the people were impatient, bored, annoyed and cynical. So to ease the unpleasantly long waits, we packed up boxes of mostly excellent used books, great reads, and took them to the line-up areas of the two polls next door to us - with big signs saying FREE BOOKS, TAKE ONE. I thought we would subsequently hear something, such as thanks, or want the book back?, but people haven't been coming into the library at all. They are parking outside in our lot and walking over to the schools to vote, then returning to simply get back in their cars and drive away. No talking.

When I went in to vote myself, after leaving a box of books in the front, I felt the same angry irritation. We were forced to use machines that we don't trust, that will leave no paper trail. (This is Maryland.) For the first time in many years of voting, I felt no confidence whatsoever that my vote will be correctly counted.

There was none of the usual friendly how is your family, still have that dog?, whatever happened to Carl? sort of comradery that always accompanied voting here. Only grumbling.

No one asked to see my ID or even asked for a birth date or address for verification. I remember the poll workers always checking my ID, even if they knew me. This year it seemed as if even they weren't taking this very seriously, as if they didn't think of it as a genuine election. Or didn't much care.

One daughter used an absentee ballot. It had to be filled out in pencil. The directions said that pen was unacceptable.

Our stickers are in both English and Spanish.

Jacqueline PasseyNov 02, 2004 at 9:12PM

I voted by absentee last night. I very much enjoyed voting for myself. :)

WarrenNov 02, 2004 at 9:12PM

I had a very easy experience here in Phoenix. Showed up about 1 hour before the polls closed and there was not wait at all.

I saw a couple of problems:
1. No one asked me for ID, and I had about 20 seconds to look at the voter sign in sheet before they asked me my name. It was very easy to see who had not yet voted. If I had walked in a minute or two before polls closed, I could easily have picked a name off the sign in sheet that had not voted and given that name as mine, and voted away.

2. The people handing out ballots were obviously getting bored, and they started to talk out loud in front of all the voters about which political advertisements they did not like or were tired of. This is unacceptable behavior, and I asked them to stop.

Miguel CentellasNov 02, 2004 at 9:13PM

I had a great voting experience, despite the long wait (longest I've ever waited). The polling staff in my mostly-Dem precinct/town were careful to be non-partisan, and were very polite. Even helped a little old lady vote straight-Republican ballot (I overheard them next to me) and read all six state/city/county proposals outloud to her (the 'ol gal was a bit confused overall). While I was there, they prevented a woman w/ only a Texas ID (I live/vote in Michigan) from voting, despite her many protestations (I overheard them call our Secretary of State, she wasn't registered anywhere in the state). All in all, I thought it went smoothly, w/ very high voter turnout, especially youth vote (but I live in a college town, and in a predominantly student neighborhood).

judithNov 02, 2004 at 9:13PM

I'd never seen a line at my polling place before, and gladly stood in that line for twenty minutes chatting with my neighbors. Everything went smoothly for me, and seemed to be going smoothly for those around me, both for those voting officially and those voting provisionally. I got my "I VOTED" sticker and headed off to work.

JonathanNov 02, 2004 at 9:16PM

I voted at around 11:00 CST in a suburb of Texas. No political signs at the polling place but Bush/Cheney signs lead the way there like Burma Shave signs. No noticeable poll watchers. The three polite little ladies requested driver's license identification and were helpful in a non-partisan way, but they DID NOT specifically offer me a "I voted" sticker like they offered the person before me. If I were a Democrat, I guess I'd have grounds for a lawsuit.

AndrewNov 02, 2004 at 9:18PM

Firebaugh, CA -- I always get goosebumps whenever I vote. Perhaps it's because I grew up in Third World countries where democracy was still not universally accepted, and in some cases, contested with bullets, not ballots. Having said that, my voting experience was easy, painless, and rewarding. Taking part in an epic contest makes this as important as a "first-time" vote in a recently oppressed country, i.e., Afghanistan.

The precinct uses optical scanning -- much like Scantron(R) multiple choice tests -- which I find incredibly easy, straightforward, and produce instant results -- with a paper trail. I voted toward the end of the day, and the chatter at the polling place was all about how good their turnout was today.

As to the California state stuff, well, too many propositions, too many measures, too many initiatives. The voter guide was like a small workbook! While I'm a little ambivalent about the direct democracy of the initiatives, I assessed each one on its merits and voted accordingly.

I must say that my faith in human nature has been redeemed, so far, by this election. In a momentous election, with real differences and very serious implications for the future of not only this nation, but the world, the American people turned out, and turned out strong. In spite of everything, we rose up to our responsibilities and, as such, tonight is a great night for Americans!

degreadedNov 02, 2004 at 9:22PM

Everything went out ok.

Went to a elemtary school
at 2 to 3 p/m everything went out ok.

No lines voted quiclky.

Tyler LeeNov 02, 2004 at 9:22PM

I voted by absentee ballot from Dillon, South Carolina. I filled out a request form and they sent a ballot soon thereafter. Filling in the ballot was quick and intutive. I was able to go to the South Carolina website to see that my ballot was recieved.

BenNov 02, 2004 at 9:26PM

Voted around 6:00 p.m. here in Boston (Beacon Hill) - took all of 10 minutes. No ID required, just address and name - two folks in front of me had to show ID; this may be because I voted in the same place in 2002 and returned my city census last (?) year.

A couple people hanging out up front, but I didn't notice what they were hawking - also a cop standing there as well.

Gone are the mechanical lever machines, replaced by scantron type ballots (which have a privacy folder you carry them around in). Absolutely simple and familiar, since I grew up with these in school. Name re-checked after filling out the form, which I fed into the scanner myself. Good design - fast count plus a paper-trail.

GabeNov 02, 2004 at 9:27PM

I learned at my Mountain View, CA precinct that I wasn't in the book. Apparently, Santa Clara County ate my registration. So I voted with a provisional ballot. The sticker they give you is the same, but it was still a disappointment.

DuncanNov 02, 2004 at 9:32PM

I'm Canadian, but definatly following the whole US electoral process closely, and, I have to say, I think it's absolutly crazy.

Six months ago, in June, I voted for the first time in a federal election.

You don't need to pre-register in Canada, you can show up at the polling station the day of the election, and register there. You do have to show gov issued photo ID (passport or drivers) though.

I got handed a Paper ballot, and I put an X (or any kindof mark I wanted) in the box of the person I wanted to vote for. All the ballots are hand counted... everywhere. No crazy machines, no computer voting, just paper.

We have a parlimentary system, so we don't directly vote for Prime Minister, just for Members of Parliment.

There was nothing else on the ballot, and the ballot are standardized across the country. You'll see the same thing in British Columbia that you will in Newfoundland.

There was also only one person ahead of me. No waiting at all.

So, from my perspective, the American election seems crazy.

HongkieNov 02, 2004 at 9:36PM

Overseas voter... I was freaking out a couple weeks ago because Colorado had not yet sent me my absentee ballot, so I went down to the US Consulate in Hong Kong, took a number, and an hour and forty minutes later, got my Federal Absentee Write-In Ballot form. Loads of other expats grumpily waiting for their chance to participate in the electoral process, despite the fact that the hundreds of thousands (millions?) of us Americans living outside the US are all subject to worldwide taxation without appropriate representation... but that's another story altogether.

I marked mine, but held off sending it for a while, and eventually, at the eleventh hour, my old pals in Arapahoe County finally sent me the official Colorado ballot. So I filled it in over the weekend, and last week, took it down to my pre-polling station... the Federal Express office in Central. FedEx has been doing its bit... giving free overnight delivery to any American overseas who's voting. Hats off to 'em for this corporate good citizenship, whatever else you may say about them as a company.

So as I was filling out the air waybill form, I used my crap Cantonese to tell the cute girl behind the counter "Gam-yaat ngoh-dei yat-chai gow sai-joo." (crap translation: "Today we're all trying to save the world.") She looked confused, but smiled anyway, and gave me my receipt.

Doc SearlsNov 02, 2004 at 9:39PM

When I was done voting, I took my ballot to the machine that reads it. I said "Should I run it through the shredder here?" Hey, the thing did look like a shredder. The volunteers behind the tables cracked up laughing. "That makes our day!" one of them said.

It was a good room. I enjoyed working it.

dyslexi25Nov 02, 2004 at 9:40PM

So I voted today in Mt. Prospect, a suburb of Chicago. Mind you, my whole family is registered to vote in the same district. Another important fact to note in this story is that I am a 25-year-old male. As I walked up to the poll, a young volunteer asked for my name. I gave them my last name and she informed me that, yes, I was in the right place. Then the elderly gentleman holding the book with my ballot flipped through the pages, look right at me, and asked, "Alyssa?"

I didn't know what to say. After I steered him to the right name, I cast my ballot. I managed to keep my response to the old man's blunder to a chuckle under my breath.

Jim C.Nov 02, 2004 at 9:49PM

I live on the NW side of Chicago, just a few miles east of O'Hare. When I went to vote at about 5:15 Chicago time (polls close at 7), one of the election officials mentioned that 300 out of 500 registered voters had already voted and that only 100 total who voted in the primary.

I have to say I find it very hard to believe there are only 500 registered voters in my precinct. I live in a high-rise apartment complex where some of the buildings are actually in another precincts, and I would have thought there were far more adults just in my section of the complex. There seem to be many well-to-do immigrants who don't speak English (Polish, Russian, Indian and others) and perhaps who haven't become citizens yet. Even so, 500 seems very small. I'll try to verify that this week.

I had to wait less than 5 minutes for a voting machine to open up. There was nobody else waiting.

AaronNov 02, 2004 at 10:34PM

Here in Idaho, I voted a week ago. Went to get an absentee form for my wife and saw four booths set up in the clerks office and a line of four ahead of me. So, I voted right then and there! Turns out I was the 1,775th voter in my county to vote early. Wow!

If your state offers similar ammenities, I highly recomend it. No lines, no poll watchers, no traffic, etc.


LeahNov 02, 2004 at 10:34PM

I voted by mail, and all went smoothly. However, one of my professors told me that (here in Oregon), she and her husband both received two absentee ballots each. Good citizens that they are, they both shredded the extra . . . but did other people receive and turn in the extra ballot? hmmm . . .

ElaineNov 02, 2004 at 10:36PM

Voted absentee two weeks ago. (much like the other person from Olympia....) Was very pleasant sitting in my front room with the booklet & my husband, chatting about all the various ballot initiative.

Ballot was "chads", which meant tracking down a paper clip to punch them out. Easy mechanism, but I don't like having to cross-reference the numbers in the handout with the numbers on the ballot. I miss Pierce County's connect-the-arrows method.

I love permanent absentee; in the 12 years I've been a voter, I've only voted in person once.

Now I'm listening to the radio on pins & needles....

MidwesternerNov 02, 2004 at 10:49PM

Voting was very smooth at 7:30 AM in my MN suburb, where mine was #204 placed in the completed ballots tally box. I had about a 30 minute wait to vote, indoors out of the rain with plenty of room for the line to get longer if needed. The polling site had about 20 chairs which elderly folk in line ahead of me were glad to use. Several voters had well-behaved children with them. People talked with each other quietly or read while in line. The voting judges were very polite, helped keep the lines at the various stations reasonable-sized by having about 10 people at a time enter the larger room where the judges, ballots and booths were located. As I walked home from the polls I saw a warmly dressed woman with a moveon.org poster seated at the bus stop bench about 10 feet from the driveway into the polling area parking lot. I looked up MN law online and learned such campaigning is allowed as long as 100 ft from the building/entrance. At work, I helped 2 co-workers use online tools to look up their polling site.

BillNov 02, 2004 at 10:53PM

Voted w/ the new "dots" in California. In & out inside of 5 minutes.

NymNov 02, 2004 at 11:07PM

South Pasadena, California / InkaVote

No wait, but not four feet from the POLLING PLACE sign, a young girl was calling Republican voters urging them to come vote republican. When confronted by a staff worker she tried to claim that the democrats were "doing the same thing", even though she was the only one soliciting votes.

When I said "You're BREAKING THE LAW", she said "I'm 16, try and prosecute me!". She had no respect for the polling place at all, and called me "inconsiderate" for protecting the sanctity of the polling place.

JohndanNov 02, 2004 at 11:13PM

I live in a rural town in way-upstate NY, on the outskirts of the NE corner of the Adirondacks (I can see city lights from Canada on the way home, and the way the election seems to be going so far, I may be heading there).

I cast my vote at 8:05 this morning, at the Hopkinton Town Hall. Three cars in the parking lot, one voter just exiting the sole voting booth when I came into the Hall. Big Red Lever voting machine. Three smiling women happy to be doing their civic duty by helping even leftist freaks like me cast their votes. Seemed pretty non-eventful, in a placid sort of way, despite how polarize the elections have become.

Mike LietzNov 02, 2004 at 11:25PM

I voted this morning, one of the 956 voters in my precinct. I waited over two hours for the privilege. My wife waited three in the early evening.

There are 956 voters in my precinct. There were three voting machines. Each voter was supposed to take no more than five minutes to do his or her business, though many did. My back of the voter card math showed that that many voters with that few machines with five minutes to use them would take twenty six hours for everybody to vote.

Not good, not good at all. I doubt there were five hundred absentee ballots in my precinct.

Somebody made a big mistake.

Jason VeatchNov 02, 2004 at 11:29PM

Back in 2000 I was a freshman in high school. I followed the vote counting process fairly closely. When Bush eventually emerged as the winner, I looked forward to the fact that I would be able to support him in 2004. In the four years that passed after that I became more cynical about the government in general, and some aspects of the Republican party in particular. I thought about voting for Badnarik (sp?) or Paroutka (sp??) but eventually decided to vote for Bush - of the candidates with a chance of winning he seemed the lesser of two evils. My voting experience was very easy - rather anticlimactic, really. I got the request form for an absentee ballot from one of the RAs in my residence hall about a month ago, sent it a couple weeks ago, and received the ballot shortly afterwards. I sat in my room and after some final deliberation, voted for Bush. I did some quick research on the candidates in the other races, and, either out of humble acknowledgement of my own lack of knowledge or perhaps just laziness, decided simply not to vote on the two constitutional amendments.

CasperNov 02, 2004 at 11:34PM

I voted in Northern Virginia this morning. I arrived at the polling place at 8am, and the line was three blocks long. It was two and a half hours before I got a chance to vote, but that's about the extent of anything bad that happened.

Everyone was very polite and no one was either in a hurry or rushed in any way. I didn't see any poll monitors (or watchers or challengers or whatever you want to call them). There were a number of people who were both elderly and disabled, and they were allowed to go to the head of the line to vote.

A good day to be an American, no matter who wins.

ChloeNov 02, 2004 at 11:38PM

My voting experience was very easy. The poll was very quiet when I arrived, despite the fact that the area has apparently had a record voter turn-out. There was a steady stream of voters at the poll, just no waiting - at least not for me.
I will say one peculiar thing that happened was that the elderly woman working at the pool, upon looking at my voter registration card, behaved as if she'd never seen a registered member of the political party I'm registered as. She seemed to be concerned I wouldn't be on the list because of it.
Later I went to the local campaign headquarters my friend was working at, and at 6:45pm they were still sending people out to "flush" neighborhoods... which was explained to me to mean they were going out into the neighborhoods and knocking on doors urging people to go out and vote if they hadn't already. Earlier in the day, someone was knocking on doors in my neighborhood.

Wacky HermitNov 02, 2004 at 11:47PM

Voting in Utah went smoothly. I arrived at the polls at 9:30 and left at 10:00. The election volunteers were complaining that there had not been a break in the traffic since the opening of the polls, so they had not had a chance to vote themselves yet. We had paper punch ballots. My mom also voted here in Utah, she arrived 15 minutes before the polls opened and got right in, but my dad who arrived at poll opening had to wait 15 minutes.

Arlen WalkerNov 02, 2004 at 11:58PM

Polling place is easy to find, just a short walk from my back door. Voted at about the same time as usual, but the ballot number was about twice the usual number, meaning turnout is very high.

There were two suits in the polling place who were asking people if they were registered. Lady in line behind me was offended by the question, but the truth was these were volunteers from the Voter Legal Rights group and were just trying to help steer people to the correct line (Wisconsin allows same-day voter registration, you see). They didn't worry me at all.

The man who worried me was sitting off to the edge of the room, but near the poll workers table. As people came up to get their ballot, he was marking something off inside his PDA. What he was marking off, I don't know, but I do know there wasn't a camera on his PDA, because I checked for that.

I had come with my digital camera, and if there was anyone at the polling place taking pictures of voters, I intended to take their picture, pull out my "journalist notebook," and ask for a name and address to caption the photo for publication.

As it was, there was nothing really unsettling going on, and a very large turnout.

Wierdest event: A tape recording of Caroline Kennedy called me, urging me to go to the polls and vote. What's wierd about that? It was almost an hour after the polls in Wisconsin had closed.

StephenNov 02, 2004 at 11:59PM

My request for an absentee ballot was postmarked on October 12, but I did not receive my ballot until October 29. The ballot needed to be returned by 5pm on Friday, so I couldn't vote the way I wanted to. So today, I drove 75 miles each way to my polling place and voted.

No problems at the polling place, thank God. As this was my first time voting, I wasn't exactly sure how the voting machine worked (a big green metal cabinet with a 18 inch lever to open/close the curtain, that also submitted my vote) but one of the officials was kind enough to show me how to use it. I didn't see any paper (or pens/pencils) but this most certainly was not a computer. It was satisfyingly old-fashioned and mechanical. I was in and out in five minutes and one of the many who voted for Kerry in Pennsylvania.

conradNov 03, 2004 at 12:21AM

I voted today in suburban Orange County, California. There were no lines or congestion because polling places were increased this year in anticipation of a larger turnout. Although my county uses electronic voting, they are required to give voters a paper ballot if this is requested. I took advantage of this and filled out large menu-sized pieces of paper carefully with a black pen, marking in each decision by filling in a box completely. The poll workers were a bit confused about my decision but didn't balk or try to convince me to use the machine.

Jason FletcherNov 03, 2004 at 12:22AM

People behind the counter were very skittish and frantic (most likely because of doing it all day and I have simpathy for them) yet seemed very prone to mistakes. Such as, I was never asked for any form of idenifacation. I was NOT happy about this for the reason of security. I could have gone back later with a friends name and different clothes and voted again.
Otherwise, everything went smoothly.

ZackNov 03, 2004 at 12:33AM

I voted at about 2:30 PM in the same place I've voted in the past two elections, the lunch room of the elementary school two blocks from my house.

There was no line, and my name was there in the big list right where it should be. The poll worker (probably a schoolteacher) handed me three! separate complete-the-arrow cards and a felt-tip marker. (The state of California and the city of San Francisco, between them, have come up with a ridiculously long list of propositions, as usual.) Marked my votes, gave the pen back to the poll worker, and fed the cards into the machine that goes bleep. Done.

Outside there were a couple of women at card tables running a bake sale to benefit the school, which I thought was a clever marketing tactic.

One slight procedural irregularity - every time I've done this in the past, there have been little plastic folding lecterns that you're supposed to stand at while you fill out the ballot. These have a tall wraparound barrier so no one can peek. This time, the lecterns were there, but there were dropcloths over them and they were having everyone sit at the lunch tables instead. However, as there was no one in the room who betrayed even the slightest interest in peeking at me, never mind influencing me, I don't much care.

Kim SullivanNov 03, 2004 at 12:45AM

I voted at the polling place clearly marked on my voter registration card -- which I had to pull out of a box in my closet. I was glad I found the registration card, because I had the devil's own time trying to find out online where I was supposed to vote. The local paper website had nothing, the state government website had nothing, the county website had nothing. Lots of info on the items on the ballot, but nothing to tell a person where to go or what time the polls open.

So I go to the polling place at 4 pm expecting long lines, and there are none. I used a paper ballot with a punch pin, and punched with precision and enthusiasm to avoid chads. I checked my ballot for chads after removing it from the voting slot, handed it to the 98 year-old lady in charge of the ballot box, and got my "I voted" sticker. It was fast (I had decided my votes ahead of time and read 'em straight off my cheat sheet) and uncomplicated. And I was leaving I gave my (largely uninterested) 7 year-old daughter an impassioned speech about voting as a moral obligation, especially for women, along with a nutshell history of the Women's Suffrage movement. She only wanted to know if she could play on the monkey bars.

TomNov 03, 2004 at 1:01AM

Voted a little before 5 pm in Nashua, NH in hopes of beating the after work crowd. Had to park a block away (bet it was all the damn sign holders using up the parking spots!).

Organization was fairly poor and the poll workers looked exhausted, but after a few minutes of not moving at all in my line, I zoomed to the front and had a ballot a couple of minutes later. Votes were marked on paper with magic marker and fed into a counting machine. Total time less than 15 minutes including the walks to/from the car.

I was glad that I wasn't doing same day registration though because the lines were huge and very slow moving by the looks of it. I didn't check out the bake sale, but newspaper accounts that I read said it would have been futile anyway since most of them were sold out in the morning.

Although the polling place was disorganized, finding the right polling place was worse. Massachusetts has a nice web site where you punch in a street address and you get back a polling place. The NH site has the info buried in the Sec. State's web site and then you need to know what ward you are in if your in a large city. I was pretty sure I knew, but it took another trip the the city web site with more rummaging through alphabetical street lists to find the ward. Hey guys - these new fangled 'puter things are really good at looking things up in tables. Try it some time!

KristenNov 03, 2004 at 1:07AM

I voted for the first time ever today. I voted for Kerry. I feel good about it. I went to vote at around 10:30 this morning and there were maybe seven other people there. The ladies and one man working the center were older than the hills. The man assumed that I wasn't voting, because I don't look 18, I guess. Do not assume! We have one machine at my polling place. It is teal and looks like it is from the 1950's or 60's. I thought I'd have issues with pulling the lever, but it was easier than I had expected. I was surprised that I did not get asked for identification, being that the man didn't even think I was of age to vote. But I voted, and it's done.

JohnNov 03, 2004 at 1:45AM

I signed up to have my ballot mailed to me. It arrived MONDAY with notice that it had to be back in my county at 7pm the NEXT DAY!

I should have gotten it on Friday.

momNov 03, 2004 at 1:48AM

I hit my precinct at 10:15 a.m. and got out of there at 11:48. It wasn't arduous -- I had pleasant line neighbors, although we carefully avoided the subject of who we were voting for, and final precinct results show I was outnumbered roughly 4-to-1. There was a short line outside but we quickly heard from people leaving that the line inside snaked around and was much longer. I'd say there were about 200 people waiting at any given time while I was there. I kept wanting to shout to the room at large how amazing it was! Having to WAIT to VOTE. I'm accustomed to breezing in, casting my ballot right away and breezing out, never even a token wait. To go from that to an hour and a half wait just made me so happy. This is how it's supposed to be.

pete the elderNov 03, 2004 at 2:08AM

I voted two weeks ago through Texas' early voting system. Why don't all states have this? Waited 10-15 minutes (longest wait ever for me in three pres. votes now). Used computer. Maybe a little better tahn punch card I used to use in California. Election officials seemed to be helpful to other people, but I did not need help as I had voted by computer once last year. Wife and some of my friends had to wait over an hour to vote last week and no one I talked to had to wait more than ten minutes or so today. I found out where to vote via the county election guy's website. In Texas early voting you can vote wherever you want to in your county. Takes care of problem of not knowing where to go.

benfieNov 03, 2004 at 2:27AM

I voted at about 2:30 pm EST here in Detroit, at Casa Maria about 3~4 blocks from the old baseball stadium sitting there gathering dust.

I was more or less first in line when I queued up, the guy in front of me wasn't being very assertive, so the election folks had to drag him forward. No big trouble finding my name in the book, unlike last time. "No, it's spelled like this... No, like ... No, L *then* A..."

We vote by paper ballot with the arrows that you have to fill in. Takes me back to the old standardized test days. I wonder if I'm in the 90th percentile of voters? One legal-plus sized page, front and back. Maybe eight booths for filling out the ballot - no waiting in mine, two pens waiting for me. The first pen was all blew out and formless, the second was nice and crisp.

We also have 4,000,000 judges to vote for, plus Detroit's got an awful lot of bond & millage measures this year. I own no real estate, I said spend, spend, spend. We've got a SuperBowl to prepare for!

And Kerry for President, of course. Damn you Ohio! And you, Florida!

WillNov 03, 2004 at 2:36AM

My election experience in NYC was monumentally messed up. I had to visit Board of Elections headquarters TWICE to see polling judges.

Will's Election Adventure (illustrated with photos of two different polling locations)

DiegoNov 03, 2004 at 2:53AM

See my experience at my Metacool blog.

Bonnie BurtonNov 03, 2004 at 2:59AM

This morning got up extra early -- I didn’t even hit the snooze button
once. Got dressed in the dark and scampered like a cockroach in the
morning light over to my polling place to vote. The place I was to
cast my ballot just so happened to be a tiny private school in the
middle of the Mission (San Francisco) only a few blocks from my apartment. When
I got inside the small lobby I noticed that there was a vast mix of
voters waiting in line to check their names off the registration list --
cranky and happy senior citizens, stressed out moms, a gay couple
chatting about Halloween and believe it or not what looked to be a
whole gaggle of teens straight out of the TRL audience.

Glancing over the heads of the 30 people in line, I also came to the
realization that there were only 8 voting booths, 9 pens and one
machine to verify the votes which occasionally jammed or spit
out an error message.

I'm not sure what bugged me the most –- the claustrophic feeling
of the room, the elementary school kids desperately trying to run
through the line to get to their first class, or the old man in front of
me who kept gripping about "Kerry and his legion of Manson hippie

When I got to the head of the line, there were no booths to use
and all the chairs were used up by people busily voting, so I sat
on the dusty floor and went to work.

I finally got through it all, and chose wisely in a 6-page ballot. Us
Californians sure know how to add things to a freakin’ ballot. But
most importantly I voted against Bush. And when the machine took
my ballot without a beeping error noise, I sighed with a sense of
great relief. I did my part. This time, let's hope it counts for

jamie youngNov 03, 2004 at 3:49AM

Hi, Here's my 7am voting story. Went to my polling place first thing, there was 4 poll workers, 4 diebold machines, and an increasing line. Two poll workers were quite aged. Only one e-voting machine was up, the others just showing a gray screen. The two poll workers began complaining that all the paper ballots would have be broken out, and they warned the other workers not to hand out any more diebolds voting cards. A little girl behind me left her mother in line and approached the nearest non-working machine. The machine came to life at her touch. Lightly she moved to the next two machines, and each one got her touch, and each one came to life. The person ahead of me rushed over to one of the new working machines with her voting card, and it was left to me to explain to the workers that they didn't have to break out the rest of the paper ballots. The little girl saved democracy. It was just a close dialog box she touched on each machine.

BobNov 03, 2004 at 3:51AM

Time for Dems to redefine the party away from fringe and back to jobs, environment, middle class. The homo marriage amends lost this election. Time for accountability, and for the Dem leadership to make a call. Is this the outcome the stem cellers and gaymarrige single issue freaks wanted? How about the rest of us? Thanks a lot. Next time, you wont get my support.

Jamie YoungNov 03, 2004 at 3:51AM

That little girl saved democracy in Berkeley, CA.

davidNov 03, 2004 at 6:43AM

No real line, but I had to wait as they marked of the dozen or so absentee ballots. With 3400 registeres voters we have only 12 absentee? My wife also had an in and out experience. For the state legislature 40 votes separate the two candidates.

ChrisNov 03, 2004 at 6:54AM

Voting in Ohio... let me tell you when they talk about long waits in line on TV, they're not kidding. I voted at a Church that was underconstruction so their was litting parking since most of it was torn up or had equipment on it. Three precincts were voting in this location and it was a mess. Luckily I only had to wait a little over an hour to vote. One of the precincts had a three hour line and the workers said that was as good as it had been since 9am.

The workers were all great and very sympathetic with people. They had apparently tried to tell the Board of Elections that three precincts wasn't going to work here. I heard lots of similar stories of not enough machines, long lines and general confusion coming from long time voters and new ones alike.

I didn't see any challengers or anyone being turned away, but I heard from people that voted in different areas that saw minorities and foriegn citizens being questioned. Put on your tinfoil hats... I almost have to say, it would seem like Taft and Ken Blackwell are trying to deliver Ohio to W... and it's working. I fully expect more lawsuits to be filed and ballots to be questioned.

JonNov 03, 2004 at 7:06AM

I waited until 4 PM (after work) to vote here in Delaware. Had two distrcits voting at the same locale but had clear signs detailing which line was which. Each district had two voting machines. The line was very short and the folks staffing the place were very friendly and helpul. I was able to take my sons (ages 10 and 5) in the booth with me to see democracy in action!

When you vote, you push a pad next to a candidate's name and a light goes on indicating your choice. When you are done (ten offices up for election on my ballot), you hit the big green button and your votes are submitted.

We wandered behind the machines after and were asked to step away. On the back of each booth, the number of votes cast in each was counted electronically. At that time there were 842 total. Showing 1004 votes cast for the presidential election (the most of the ten) on the state's website this morning so the crowds probably got a little worse near the end.

All in all, a good experience.

HughNov 03, 2004 at 8:19AM

I'm not a citizen, but I took my 12-year-old son to the nearest polling station to see how it all works. We saw the booths, some sample ballots, the optical scan machine, the administrators; and chatted a while with a few bystanders. This was 7pm in rainy semi-rural Massachussetts; very low-key, very quiet. Glad we went.

JohnNov 03, 2004 at 9:49AM

Just found this Blog ...

I joined the queue at 9:15am at my suburban central North Carolina polling station and waited about 75 minutes, and that was relatively short based on comments from some people who just voted. It had been as long as 120 minutes earlier. When I left the polling station, the line was approximately 50 yards longer than when I joined. I also noted that at 10:35am when I cast my ballot (a paper complete the arrow type) I was number 756 in a precinct with approximately 1700 registered voters (according to one worker at the sign-in desk). The same worker said that there were also quite a few absentee ballots cast as well as early voters. In North Carolina approximately 30% of registered voters voted early, including my wife. While I may not like the current political environment (hostility, severe partisanship, lack of dialog between parties, etc.), it sure does seem to get people out to vote, and that's good. Something that struck me as odd was the seeming randomness of the identity checks. While I was not "carded," the gentleman behind me was.

Also of note was to whom each of the party representatives spoke while we were waiting in line prior to the 50' electioneering demarcation point. I also noticed that one gentleman got a bit upset with the Democratic party rep for asking people if they were interested in seeing a photocopied version of the ballot prior to entering the polling station. I didn't notice if any marks had been made on the photocopied ballot indicating voting suggestions. What I did notice was that attention was drawn to the Presidential race, the party ticket portion, and the Judicial races which are now non-partisan (yeah, sure they are). In North Carolina you are able to vote a straight party ticket, but that doesn't include the Presidential race or the now non-partisan judicial races. The same gentleman had no such problems with the Republican party rep handing out cards with the names of the Republican candidates on it.

MakaNov 03, 2004 at 10:12AM

I'm in Norman, Oklahoma. As far as I know, the whole state uses optical scan machines.

I dropped my 5-year-old off at kindergarten, then took my 13-year-old son with me to the polling place. It was about 7:30 when we arrived, and we felt quite fortunate to have only one voter in line ahead of us (though we filled the last empty booth). Our polling place is the Catholic parish church nearest the University of Oklahoma - I assume many of the folks voting there are students and perhaps that's why there was no line at 7:30...the only students who are up at that time are rushing to an early class. ;)

I didn't have any problems with voting, and I had written out my choices on paper to take with me, to make the process quicker and easier.

However, the very elderly woman handing out ballots tried to give one to my 13-year-old son! Here's how it happened:

He was standing next to me, and we were chatting while I was waiting to sign in. When I stepped forward to sign the book, that put him a little behind me. So I assume that the Very Old Woman handing out the ballots couldn't tell that he didn't sign the book. I took my ballot from the table in front of her. She pushed a ballot toward my son as he came by. He sort of ignored her. She picked up a ballot and tried to hand it to him, saying, "You need your ballot." or "Here's your ballot." He said, "I'm too young to vote." She put her hand up to her ear like in a cartoon [LOL] saying, "Ehhh?" He said quite loudly, "I'M ONLY THIRTEEN!!" Everybody turned around to look at him. LOL I sort of wish he'd taken it, not that one more would have made a difference

I was also rather annoyed that they were playing a recording of a man reading Bible verses over the loudspeaker in the church. No electioneering in the polling place, but you can proselytize!

I've been voting since 1987, and worked as a poll official from 1987 to 1990, and this is the first time I've EVER seen exit pollsters.

CarinaNov 03, 2004 at 10:26AM

My voting experience in Columbus, Ohio: There were about two hundred people in the room when we got there around 7:30. And the number hadn't changed when we left at 9:00 despite the fact that plenty of people had voted and left- more were coming in all of the time.

It seemed odd that in the last election, we had over 6 voting booths in our precinct, but this time we had only four. Two dedicated to A-L and two dedicated to M-Z. And it was held in the auditoriom of North Education center instead of the small carpeted room on the bottom floor where it normally is.

This afforded us the luxury of sitting while we waited, and watching people's feet in the polls, and generally being much more comfortable than we would have been had we needed to stand for an hour and a half. A number of people who signed in didn't come up when their number was called, and I think that was a result of being discouraged about the wait.

I did see one interesting thing. A poll worker who was free floating around, starting questioning a woman who was signing in who I know born in the Phillipines but who is also an American citizen, asking her if she was really sure she was registered, and she really lived where her voter's registration card said she did. The poll worker who was handling the rolls seemed perfectly willing to allow her to sign in, but this lady wanted to give her a hard time. She asked 6 or 7 questions (Have you voted here before? Are you sure this address is correct? etc) before allowing her to sign in.

I was only shown where my name was on the roll after I handed in my ID and allowed to sign in. There was no questioning involved for me- except that the same lady floated over and told the roll worker she needed to check for people's names in the back. The roll worker responded with, "I haven't had to yet. Everyone so far has been on the list."

My mother's polling place, in Newark Ohio, had a large sign prohibiting cell phones. I haven't heard a legitimate reason for banning cell phones in a polling place yet, and wonder if this was to discourage calls should a problem occur. Voter advocacy programs were telling people to take their phones so they could call for help if needed, and telling voters they couldn't bring their phones in seemed a little strange to her, and to me.

AllisonNov 03, 2004 at 11:04AM

I thought I'd have problems voting in Madison, WI because, even though I registered at the last presidential election, I'd since moved to another state, gotten married, and then moved back. My legal name is still my maiden name but I use my married name for practically everything. I filled out a change of address form at the library a month ago but when I called to check my registration a week or so ago, they didn't have my new address. So I thought I might be screwed: they had me as my maiden name at an old address, and the only proof of my current address has my married name. I thought I might have to go home and get my marriage license and my lease to prove who I am and where I live. But I got to the polls and decided (since there was no line at 4:15 pm; I brought snacks because I'm pregnant and thought there might be hours-long lines) to just try to vote under whatever they had, and turns out they had my maiden name and new address, so I'd worried for nothing. There was no ID check, they just verified my address. People were helpful in directing us where to go. Voting itself went smoothly, ballots here are pretty self-explanatory (you draw a line with a marker to connect two parts of a broken arrow). All in all, a good voting experience. Very low-tech!

DinahNov 03, 2004 at 12:13PM

Overall an excellent experience here in San Francisco, California.

Received state and local voter information booklets in plenty of time to study them before election day.

Had the advantage of being a repeat voter at this address and not having my polling place move.

A line at the polling place - folks coming out said expect a 30 minute wait - but because optical scan ballot processing was in use, once an election official stopped by and said "You know, you don't have to wait for a ballot booth if you don't want to. Your ballot is your property. Fill it out where you feel comfortable and then drop it off." things speeded up. People were all over in this garage where the poll was, filling in ballots on the trunks of cars, recycling bins, the clothes washer, the floor. Nice and quick at that point. Voting ended up taking 40 minutes.

The optical scan device was out of order at around 8am when I was there so we just dropped our ballots in a special box.

Getting results was easy. The New York Times website provided good national results information and both the state and county websites had plain summary pages I was able to view without problems (though the state's fancy scrolling results displayer doesn't apparently work on Mac).

If touchscreen voting had been in use I would have requested a paper ballot. I just don't think human error in counting physical ballots is as dangerous to democracy as potential programming tricks in a closed source system.

Nick AsterNov 03, 2004 at 1:04PM

San Francisco - Standard, no big deal. No line, walked in, voted. Low tech - still using those "connect the arrows" ballots and no identification required. Bit disorganized, but obviously commited group of volunteer staff.

BillNov 03, 2004 at 1:16PM

I live in Pinellas county Florida. Since I wanted my Vote to have some kind of paper trail, I voted by absentee ballot and hand delivered it around six thirty on friday before electionday. There were over a hundred people waiting in line, but a pollworker say the ballots that we had and sent us to the front of the line where a police woman directed us to another worker who took the ballots. we were in and out in minutes.

MeeshaNov 03, 2004 at 1:43PM

I live in San Francisco. Woke up with a killer cold yesterday so I called in sick, rolled over, and slept until one or so. Got up, downed some chicken noodle soup, and used the post-lunch energy surge to haul my sick self a few blocks to the polling place (which was listed on my voter information guide). At two in the afternoon, I had to wait to get a booth--that's something in Noe Valley. Put my paper ballot in the little scanner thing, heard the satisfying beep (three times--California has so damn many propositions) and proudly wore my "I Voted" sticker back to bed.

PJ/MarylandNov 03, 2004 at 1:54PM

I had no problems voting in Calvert county, Maryland. I carefully arrived 15 minutes after the polls opened (at 7), figuring I'd avoid the opening rush. As it was, it took me half an hour, which was better than I expected. (In the past, I've been able to vote in mid-afternoon, so I wasn't sure what to expect first thing in the morning.)

There were 3 lines, broken alphabetically (A-G, H-N, O-Z); about 50 people total were on these lines when I arrived. Unfortunately, the A-line kind of blocked the door, so you had to know to squeeze past if you belonged on another line. (Damn those beginning-of-the-alphabet people!) These lines moved pretty quickly, except when somebody had a problem, then they stopped dead.

At the front of the line, one woman asked for my name (there was a sign saying "Give your full name and address"), and found it on her printout. She asked my street address (I think as a check; my last name is pretty unusual, but she'd want to be sure you were the right Smith or Jones). Then the other woman at the table asked my birthdate (I think this was supposed to be an ID check of sorts), then gave me a preprinted slip with my name, address, and birthdate, which I had to sign. With this slip and one of the magic Diebold cards, I went to wait in the line for the touch screen machines.

This line had at least 30 people on it, but there were 10 voting machines, and voting didn't take long. (We only had a President, Senator, US Rep, a county question, and a few miscellaneous judges and board of ed choices; it all fit on two screens.) The actual bottleneck was that there were only two people escorting voters from the line to the voting machines. While I was waiting in line, they stopped trying to give "I Voted by Touch-screen!" stickers to everyone as they left, so they were better able to keep up; even so, there were routinely several machines not being used, and you had to grab one of them to give your magic card back.

I agree with Bill above (also in Maryland) in saying "What ever happened to curtained voting booths?" Our machines were all in a line, with little (12-15 inch high) screens on either side. At least the machines weren't side by side; my back was to the next machine in line, etc. I think some 6-foot high dividers would work much better.

Overall, I'd say it took me 30 minutes total, of which 60 seconds were spent actually using the voting machine. It certainly could have been much worse.

DonNov 03, 2004 at 2:32PM

I have been receiving Email spam from both parties. The republicans national commitee sent me an email telling my polling place based on my address. I used that to get to the polling place. Stupid me, Of course it was wrong. I walked into the polling place and asked the woman if I could register to vote. She told me I was in the wrong place and directed me to the correct place. As I turned to walk away, she made some comment to the person next to her about how she has so much power.

I walked out the door and spent 2 minutes examining the map on the wall to realize my street was exactly on the dividing line. I headed off the the correct polling place. I registered. The lines were ok. They gave me my voting card with secrecy sleeve. I walked over to the voting booth. I looked around me at the other people voting and realized the so called voting booth provides absolutely no secrecy whatsoever. I could easily see the voting card of the person next to me.

I darkened the circles for my canidate. I inserted the voting card in the machine and it didn't work until the third try. Thought to myself, I have no idea how my vote was recorded. I walked away. I Was generally disgusted with the notion that the entire voting could be corrupt and I would never be the wiser. I grabbed 2 "I voted" stickers. Hopefully someone will think I voted twice.

M.L.Nov 03, 2004 at 4:50PM

No problems in Maynard, MA... (one of the benefits of living in a small town, I suppose.) When I showed up at 8:30 a.m., there were 2 people in line ahead of me. I was asked for my address (as usual) so that the election workers could look up my name in the big book of registered voters. I didn't have to provide ID.

I got my ballot and colored in the appropriate circles with black marker, then "checked out" and fed my ballot card into the reader. Total time: less than 5 minutes. Yay!

JimNov 03, 2004 at 5:10PM

I got off work a bit early to vote (Collin County, Texas, near Dallas). There were signs on the side of the road stating "Vote" with an arrow pointing in the direction you should turn. Even without the signs, it would have been easy to find. I used Collin County's website to determine my precinct and voting location since I didn't get anything in the mail.

When I got there, there were no lines. The people behind the table were friendly. I showed them my identification before they had a chance to ask for it. They found my name quickly. I was asked to sign next to my name. Additionally, my name was hand written on a piece of paper by another lady. Then I was handed a white card with a metal contact on it (like the Kinko's copy card, basically). I was told to give that to a certain person.

There was no line to wait for this man, so I walked up to him, said "hello" and I handed him my card. He inserted it into a device he wore around his neck. The device beeped, and he handed it back to me and directed to me to the polling computers. There were 3 available, I chose one.

There was an obvious card reader, so I stuck my card in it. However, it wasn't allowing me to select options on the touch screen. Then I decided to read the instructions and realized I hadn't pushed my card in far enough. You're supposed to push it until it clicks. After doing so, the screen woke up, and asked for my language selection (english, or spanish). After selecting I was presented with a list of choices. Using the touch screen, I pressed the box next to the name of my choice. When I was done, I pressed a button indicating so. I was then shown my choices again and given the option to change any of them or "Cast Ballot". I cast my ballot and retrieved my card and went to exit. A lady near the end of the row of poll machines took my white card from me and handed me a "I voted touchscreen" sticker.

All in all it was very simple and took no more than 10 minutes, tops.

BrianNov 03, 2004 at 5:20PM

A week ago I downloaded Going Upriver from www.thekerrymovie.com. That night I watched it directly after the Frontline "Race to the White House" documentary. Mostly from seeing Going Upriver, I departed the AnybodyButBush party and proudly decided to vote *for* the Kerry party. It occured me afterwards, that there was nothing exceptional about Bush. If I were his position, I'd could have made or let my co-workers make just as big a mess as he has. It's got to be an incedibly difficult job. This job probably requires some uncommonly well-developed leadership abilities or, at the very least, the ability to be a inspired manager. Well, Bush proved to me that he has none of those abilities and Kerry did so I made my choice, confident in Kerry's integrity and ability. The night before, my girlfriend and I waked through all the propositions, measures, and local elections on the couch with a laptop. We used a trusted friend's email with ballot suggestions and compared it to the SF Bay Guardian's suggestions at www.sfbg.com. We discussed some of propositions and made our decisions together. My girlfriend filed out her handbook and I printed out my notes on the computer. The next day, we walked down to the local union hall and voted. There was no line. I filled out my entire paper ballot (connect the line style) a bit to perfectly using the ink pen provided. I wrote in Terry Baum for Congress and wondered if I was supposed to point it out the ballot monitor standing beside the counting machine. I didn't ask though and headed out with my "I voted" sticker that I wore until I got home that night.

James SpragueNov 03, 2004 at 8:20PM

I'm in San Clemente, Orange County, California. My identification card had come in the mail along with a voter information guide which told me where my polling place was. It was St. Clements church down the street. I walked over there around 11. I first had to sign in and they checked me for proof of address. Then stood in line for about 30 minutes to use the electronic voting machines they've got now in Orange County. When I got the front of the line I decided I wanted a paper ballot so I asked for one and I went over and filled it out in the booth. Down in San Diego, where I voted last time, the ballots where the punch-out kind. The last two times I voted it was around 7pm and the wait was very short. In Orange County, the paper ballots were "color in the square."

If people didn't want to stand in line they could've asked for the paper ballot, but I'm sure most people didn't know that. And the table where voters were checked-in was in a separate room from where people lined-up. And I'm sure it would have been possible to get in the line without them noticing that you hadn't checked in. They did hand out this instruction sheet for the electronic voting machines with a number on it that may have served as an indentifier of people that had checked in, but I could have probably found several of those in the trash outside.

I support marking people's foreheads with india ink as they vote.

FaithNov 03, 2004 at 11:09PM

As a first time voter, it was super easy. I drove to a park near my house as told to me by the voter registration card, arrived at a nearly empty place with no line, and shown to a booth. Voting itself was easy-- being in Nevada, it is all computer. You press the electronic buttons (like a credit card machine) and it changes the arrow to who/what you are voting for. After a series of light button pushing, I was finished. Totally would do it again, very painless. (This was around/a little before 12pm).

MickNov 04, 2004 at 12:09AM

I had the pleasure of spending time with my daughter yesterday as we waited in line to vote in New Hampshire. It was her first time.

We were having a coffee downtown and a elderly woman came in who was confused about where her polling place was (they had just changed the polling place for this election). I walked with her for about an hour (it was only about 1/4 mile but we had to stop often). I offered to call one of the campaigns to arrange a ride but she said she didn't want anyone to see her being weak and she wanted to vote to get that bastard out of office who was getting all our boys killed for no reason.

That afternoon I was holding Kerry signs on a street corner with a Dominican man who recently became a citizen and we talked about how so many Americans take what they are told at face value and don't want to work to make things better.

I felt guilty because yes I gave money, wore a button and spoke to friends about the issues (alienating a few in the process) and donated a whole day and was feeling pretty proud of myself. This man who had many less opportunities than I have.

Yes, maybe we get the president we deserve but did they?

joshNov 04, 2004 at 1:11AM

metroblogging is collecting voting day stories at http://metroblogging.com/metrovoters.phtml

joshNov 04, 2004 at 1:16AM

my own voting experience was uneventful. the absentee ballot arrived well ahead of the election, filled it out with the voter guide and my favorite alt-weekly at my side, and dropped it in the mail a week and a half early.

I'm a huge fan of the absentee ballot, plus it allowed me to volunteer for most of election day without worrying about getting to my own polling place.

SzNov 04, 2004 at 6:23AM

All went well yesterday. Though felonious, I had the theoretical opportunity to vote twice which I did not do! I sent away for an abesentee ballot knowing that I would, at the last minute, be able to decide whether to submit the absentee ballot or vote in person. I brought the completed absentee ballot to my polling place without a hitch, but confirmed that my name is indeed listed twice.

Here's the story. Recall the recall? That's where it began. It unravelled at the primary.

(from my blog)
Saturday, February 28, 2004
1:41PM - Incompetence, perjury and the American way...

Rude, obstinate, poll worker (ROPW) + not-ready-for-prime-time touch screen voting + a disgustingly disorganized registrar's office resulted in the denial of my right to vote yesterday.
ROPW repeatedly insisted I perjure myself to regain my voting rights. Let it be known that while I relocate often, I always re-register to vote, and I made a particular point of registering as soon as [current address] became legally mine because I sure as hell wanted to preserve my right to vote against Arnold in the recall election. Which I did (to no avail).

The address that ROPW's woefully outdated database called up was one I had vacated some 3 (4?) years prior. In the interim I not only registered to vote in another city, I exercised that right in both a mayoral and presidential (as well as several minor) elections. She insisted I had not registered to vote at my current address despite the fact that I voted in the recall election here and receive sample ballots at my current address.

This was going nowhere.

She said the only way I could vote was to sign in using the 3-year-defunct address and then re-register with my current address. I told her I could not sign the form stating that I lived at the 3-year-defunct address as that would be perjury.

With 30 minutes before the polls closed, there would be no assurance that I could retrieve my sample ballot and return before ROPW and her posse vacated the premises. Nor was I confident that ROPW would allow herself to be confused with facts such as hard evidence confirming that what I had been saying was true, because to do so would be to admit that she was rude, obstinate and WRONG. She continued to preface empty statements with the phrase "Because you didn't register to vote. . ." to the point where I finally had to tell her "Stop telling me that I didn't register to vote" because I was going to punch her. (Assault=misdemeanor; perjury=felony: an obvious choice, really).

With visions of deja vu dancing in my head come November, I reluctantly began to fill out the voter registration form and soon found myself in a Catch-22. I had to check the box stating I had previously registered to vote, and I had to provide my current address the address where I previously registered to vote. This would almost be humorous if it were happening to someone else. So I gave ROPW the form. She, admonished me for being truthful, and, being rude and obstinate, directed me to fill this out the form using the [3-years-defunct] address. I reminded her that to do so would be to perjure myself. She rudely and obstinately and tossed the form on the pile.

Had I not voted in the recall election I might have been willing to act out her little perjury charade, but I have to believe that somewhere in this state exists a correct database since sample ballots appear in my mailbox. I touched it afterwards, in fact, to be sure it was not some cruel apparition. It neither burst into flames nor disintegrated into particles. I wished evil upon ROPW, and not because she was an unfortunate factotum in the wrong place at the wrong time. It was because she insisted I was lying, she insisted I perjure myself, and she damn sure had access to a phone number she could have used to clear the fucking mess up, had she not been rude, obstinate and above all, ignorant. I also wish locusts upon her because every indication tells me she is not a volunteer, given that touch screen voting is in an early, very imperfect, beta stage and so requires at least the appearance of oversight. That and she wasn't 90 years old and kind as the volunteers generally are.

The conclusion to the grisly tale is this: 1. Return Tuesday to vote the old-fashioned way (with sample ballot unecessarily in hand) even though I'm due to return to [undisclosed location] tomorrow and not return till Thursday. Or 2. Not vote.

Once again, the terrorists win.

EricNov 04, 2004 at 9:10AM

Boston, Massachusetts here. We used paper ballots with scan lines, very easy to use and provides an automatic paper record. Arrived at the polling place as soon as it was open, I was the 56th voter. Everything was easy, the wait was no more than 15 minutes.

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.