How was voting today?
November 2, 2004 10:36 AM   Subscribe

How was voting today?

Being a veteran only of the ultra-bland Elections Canada process, and having heard so much about the varied U.S. voting systems in the past few months, I'm curious as to what the American voting experience was like for you. Were there agressive partisan challengers? Sketchy electronic voting machines? Democratic registrants being declared enemy combatants? Are you confident that your vote was handled and recorded competently?

Also, a bonus question: as I understand it, you can register to vote as a Democrat or Republican or what have you. Why? Why would any partisan affiliation be recorded? What use would it be, other than picking out people whose registration to challenge?
posted by DrJohnEvans to Society & Culture (82 answers total)
My polling place was deserted, just me and five election judges. They were very friendly, I got the job done, and they gave me a receipt (no sticker though). That's about it.
posted by bonheur at 10:47 AM on November 2, 2004

Straightforward. "Bland" would be a good term. They gave me a sticker though. Felt pretty pumped about that.
posted by Galvatron at 10:48 AM on November 2, 2004

I voted what feels like ages ago, but is really just about two weeks thanks to early voting. No sticker though....bastids!

As far as registering within a party: that varies on a state-by-state basis. In those states where it is required, you can register as independent or no party affiliation. The State only cares in that they don't want people trolling the primaries (i.e. Republicans showing up at the Dem primary and voting for Kucinich or something).

In TX, we don't have party affiliation, and you can vote in either primary but not both.
posted by Ufez Jones at 10:53 AM on November 2, 2004

People seemed a bit more hyper-sensitive this time to anything they perceived as "irregular" in any way. Also, the line at the polling place was longer than I remember.

This is in the city of San Francisco.
posted by vacapinta at 10:54 AM on November 2, 2004

I'll be voting later today, so I can't specifically say what it was like for me today, but based on past elections, as well as the local news site I've been following today, I don't expect any difficulty. (I'm in a "safe" state for the presidential election, so there don't seem to be a lot of shenanigans going on here, even though we've got a hotly contested and close governor's race.)

One reason party registration can be important is for voting in the primaries--you only get to vote to determine the candidate for one party. In my state, I can declare which party's primary I want to vote in on the day of the primary election, completely independent of which party's primary I've voted in in past elections, but I understand that it's not always so flexible in other states, and you may have to have registered as a party member well in advance of the primary.

Also, which party's primary one voted in is public information, and that may be the affiliation people are looking at, even if it's not truly reflective of that person's political views. I generally vote in the Republican primary (and I wouldn't be surprised, therefore, to learn I'm listed on election rolls as a Republican) because I live in a heavily Republican area, and in local elections the Republican candidate is virtually assured of winning the general election. In the current election, for example, the Democrats are not even fielding a candidate for representative in the state legislature in my district (nor are any minor parties), so my only chance to express a preference for that office was in the Republican primary.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:54 AM on November 2, 2004

man, i want a sticker.

It took me 30 minutes to get the job done and this was the first time that i actually voted at a polling place. Seeing all those people (young and old) practicing democracy is action was pretty cool. i'm still pretty pump from seeing that.

Five more hours till the results start coming in..ugh.
posted by Stynxno at 10:56 AM on November 2, 2004

Crowded. I had to wait in line to vote, and again to put my ballot into the machine that tallies them.
posted by emptyage at 10:56 AM on November 2, 2004

My voting was pretty uneventful. They moved my polling place from right beside my house to a small, parking-less place far far away. But the staff was nice and nobody had any trouble. The whole thing took about 20 minutes, parking included.

Los Angeles, CA
posted by shotsy at 10:56 AM on November 2, 2004

this election is the first time i voted in person (as opposed to by overseas ballot) . i was unexpectedly buzzed to cast my vote. the 'i voted' sticker was icing on my voting experience cake.
posted by netsirk at 11:04 AM on November 2, 2004

I got no sticker. I'm cranky.

I did, however, get to use one of the old-sk00l machines with the lever, which was fun. There was only one person in front of me. Two, actually, a man and his 10-year-old son. They went in together, and after a while I heard him say, "You ready? OK, take a deep breath. This is it!" The kid pulled on that rusty old lever and lodged their vote. Almost made me tear up.
posted by gleuschk at 11:04 AM on November 2, 2004

The place was nearly deserted at 8:30 this morning. Two people at the check-in table (where you got your ballot), two at the check-out table (to register that you did, in fact, vote), and one to tell you how to feed your ballot into the machine (face-down). A single felt-tipped marker inside the booth, which had a tattered red-white-and-blue curtain hanging down to about knee-level for privacy. Mark the ovals in full, please. Many of the candidates on my ballot -- including one for Congress! -- were running unopposed.

No stickers, which bummed me, although there was an excessively cute baby, which someone was trying to photograph. "His first election!"

And, although I don't really identify with any party, I am registered as a Democrat so that I can vote in their primaries (as they seem more likely to pick an acceptable candidate (which they did not do this time (or last time))).
posted by uncleozzy at 11:04 AM on November 2, 2004

Reporting from SW Florida:

I tried to vote before work (7:30-ish) but there was a line out the door of my polling place of about 30-40 people. OLD PEOPLE. This is retiree-land, they have all day to vote, but no they had to do it at the buttcrack of dawn. So I sped off to work and tried again at my lunch hour -- success!

Each machine was occupied save for one, which I got immediately. The pollworker there told me how to go through the ballot (which I already know how to use, having voted touch-screen twice already this calendar year). At the end of his brief tutorial I said, "And then I press the red VOTE button!" This is where it gets kind of fishy: He said, "No." Ok, you can't fool me old man, I know I have to press the red vote-button.

Finished my ballot in a flash (many many pages, Betty Castor to vote in, judges to kick out, referrenda, etc). All in all I'd say it took me 3 minutes tops, with checking my ballot. Pressed VOTE, got my sticker, felt euphoric. I've been waiting for this damn day for FOUR YEARS.
posted by contessa at 11:05 AM on November 2, 2004

Response by poster: Does the state administer the party primaries then? Do you not have to be a member of the X party to vote in the X primary in your state?

Wait, let me guess... it varies by state. :)

Thanks for the answers, all.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 11:06 AM on November 2, 2004

A good number of people were there, especially for first thing in the morning on a VERY wet, chilly Seattle day, but not a long line and things were going smoothly. We took our absentee ballots in to put in the lock box to make sure they made it that far. We also saw others bringing their absentee ballots too. No stickers--poop! But I'm still proud to have done my civic duty.

Our county is expecting an 82% turnout. More than half voting absentee.

I'm still irritated they changed our primary system and I had to declare a party affiliation. You're not the boss of me!
posted by lobakgo at 11:12 AM on November 2, 2004

Voted in Baltimore County, Maryland this morning. Slightly confusing since two polling places were set up in a middle school and an elemetay school 500 feet apart from one another. But after the briefest of waits, I cast my ballot, received my sticker, and was on my way.

The poll workers were cheerful, helpful and efficient. The mood was non-partisan, upbeat, and very, well...civic.
posted by Verdant at 11:15 AM on November 2, 2004

You know, I bet if they started calling it "Sticker Day" instead of Election Day, way way way more people would register and vote.
posted by contessa at 11:15 AM on November 2, 2004

Here in MA we have plain, uncomplicated paper ballot - fill in the circle next to who you want.

I don't see the need for levers, computers whatever..

But it all went well
posted by quibx at 11:17 AM on November 2, 2004

In my neighborhood, in the thick of The Machine in Chicago, we waited perhaps 2 minutes for a machine. There were a lot of people there, but the turnover was very brisk, so we didn't wait long for a machine.

Here you have to register for a party, I think mostly to prevent people from spamming the other parties primaries with votes for Santa Claus or whatever. But then again, it is The Machine, and who would dare vote outside of it!

Also, no stickers here. So I'm giving out prizes to my co-workers if they show me their voting stub -- goofy gel pens and squirt guns, silly stuff. Anything to get the asses in the seats, as it were.
posted by macadamiaranch at 11:20 AM on November 2, 2004

My husband and I got up early to go vote at our polling place, two blocks from our apartment. (Is it just me or are there a TON of polling places in Chicago?) We got registered late in the game (but before the deadline) so we got these letters in the mail that said our names would be on a supplemental ballot list.

So we get there, get through the line (which was fairly long but not too bad) and explained what the letter said to the poll workers. Next thing I know the judge is pulling out a provisional ballot. I asked why, because, hey, that's not what I was told, and the judge informed me that since I was NOT on any poll list I had to have a provisional ballot, blah blah attitude. That's when things started to go bad. Heh. Basically I said that I was just trying to vote and make sure everyone was on the same page, and she calmed down a bit. I am hyper sensitive to not being a sucky customer, as it were, but I did get a bit of an attitude, I will admit. Hey, I wanted to make sure my vote counted!

So I go do my vote thing, and then take it to the machine to be run through to make sure everything was kosher. But of course, since it was a provisional ballot, it didn't go through the machine. This led to a long drawn out situation (because no one knew how to actually process a provisional ballot) that ended with the main judge screaming at one of the poll workers to "STOP TRYING TO INFLUENCE THE ELECTION." It was crazy, man. Forty five minutes of crazy.

And the ballot box didn't lock. But for god's sake, I did everything I could. From here on out it is out of my hands. And there were no stickers :(

It's frustrating because I know I can be a dick when I don't get my way -- so what happens to all those other people who don't stand up for themselves?

(Oh and on preview: no voting stub, either.)
posted by sugarfish at 11:23 AM on November 2, 2004

At my polling place, a grade school gymnasium, there was a long line of patient, friendly people of all ages. We asked a volunteer staffer if a nearby elderly couple, who were obviously uncomfortable standing, could be taken to the front of the line; the crowd parted graciously to let them through.
Altogether pleasant and encouraging. And I got a sticker, too.
posted by Tubes at 11:24 AM on November 2, 2004

Voted in Dallas at 7:30. Unexceptional, quiet, maybe slightly busier than usual... there was a sheriff's car there and that was it. The line was two people long. This in a fairly well-off, politically moderate, white neighborhood. We also had the Scantron-type ballots, same as two years ago.
posted by furiousthought at 11:25 AM on November 2, 2004

Checking in from Seattle...we voted at 8 am. No line, but there was a steady crowd.

We vote in the basement of a Lutheran church a block and a half from our house, and while all 8 voting stations were taken when we walked in, they just directed us to the ton of cafeteria tables that fill the basement, and we sat down to vote.

Which was very comfortable, since Seattle uses "blacken in the correct circle" ballots, and while they are immensely easy to read and figure out, it takes a while to make that many circles.

Also, no stickers. Damn! We got them in Minnesota, why is Seattle behind the times?
posted by GaelFC at 11:25 AM on November 2, 2004

Here in Chicago, IL, I went in around 11 AM. A very nice Republican judge gave me my ballot, I went into the booth & punched a bunch of holes in it, and fed it into the machine. Very smooth & bland. I didn't have to wait for a booth, but a few people who came in while I was puzzling over the interminable list of judicial retentions did.
posted by Johnny Assay at 11:30 AM on November 2, 2004

I went at about 8:45 this morning (Milwaukee, WI). There was a very long line outside the polling place. After standing there for about 20-30 minutes, someone told unregistered people that they could skip ahead (which I did). I registered and the whole thing took about 45minutes to an hour. There were no challenges to my ballot.

The whole thing seemed poorly organized though (but every time I've went to vote it's seemed poorly organized),
posted by drezdn at 11:31 AM on November 2, 2004

Got to the polls near downtown Stamford, CT at about 6:50am. There was an hour wait. This was surprising, but then I remembered the old adage about old people and Democrats voting early, and Stamford is a very heavily Democratic town (in a very red county).

I got a sticker, but was hoping for a button. Anyone get a button?
posted by psmealey at 11:34 AM on November 2, 2004

Rolled out of bed in Dallas, walked the two blocks to a church basement, filled out my scantron in Sharpie and came home.

Remarkable uneventful. No stub and no sticker. Cheap Dallas, I guess. We should petition for stickers.
posted by amandaudoff at 11:37 AM on November 2, 2004

Also: We have stickers.
posted by drezdn at 11:37 AM on November 2, 2004

It took the entirety of The Who's Greatest Hits to get through the line into the booth.

I'll let your judgement of The Who's catalog of hits determine how long that took.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:38 AM on November 2, 2004

Northeast Minneapolis, cold light rain this morning. At least a couple hundred people in line. Took 45 minutes to get to the front. But all things considered, things ran pretty smoothly.

Optical scanners and paper ballots--can't beat 'em!
posted by gimonca at 11:40 AM on November 2, 2004

Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY; 2 p.m.:

I walked three blocks to my polling Junior High, which serves four (state) districts. There was one lever machine, two people ahead of me, and four poll workers at my table. It took about five minutes. Afterward, a state election monitor asked my roommate and I how it went (were we harassed, were we asked if we knew how to use the machine, etc.). No stickers, no voting stub, nothing but a sweet feeling.

When I was in the booth, I had this perverted desire to flip the lever for Bush. I have no idea why.

And lever machines rock because if you fuck up a choice, all you have to do is un-flip, instead of getting a new ballot, hoping you erase completely, etc. For example, I always forget to vote for the Democrats on the Working Families line.* Plus, flipping the big switch is sooooo satisfying. Way better than putting paper into a scanner.

* New York has fusion voting, where a smaller party can nominate the same person as a bigger one; that way Kerry gets my vote, but the Working Families Party (much leftier) gets the credit, funding, etc.
posted by dame at 11:40 AM on November 2, 2004

I voted via absentee ballot, as technically I'm still a California resident. Even though I faxed my request for a ballot in WEEKS ago (and they acknowledged its receipt), I didn't get the ballot in the mail til this past Friday.

Meaning I had to FedEx the thing back to Cali yesterday to make sure my vote was counted today.

posted by WolfDaddy at 11:46 AM on November 2, 2004

I just got back--more crowded than usual for my little Manhattan district (usually empty), and a bunch of people sitting there watching who had never been there before (they looked like Union workers tho). In and out in 10 minutes. They changed the procedure a little--you now sign in, get a little card, give the card to a woman who brings you to the machine--last time, they just pointed me to a machine (no little card needed). I saw 2 people filling out affidavits for provisional votes bec. they weren't on the rolls--i think they were new voters. There also was a bunch of people outside the polling place--usually it's deserted.

I love the old machines too, like dame--flicking the little levers, then pulling the big thing over is very satisfying. Altho no one asked me how it was.
posted by amberglow at 11:46 AM on November 2, 2004

I voted a week ago. One or two people in front of me, no problem. I used a complete-the-arrow variety of scanned ballot.

Does the state administer the party primaries then?

Yup. And the winner of the primary is the party's official nominee, no matter how the party feels about it.

Do you not have to be a member of the X party to vote in the X primary in your state?

Nope. All you have to do is register. In some states, you don't even have to do that -- you just walk in and vote in whichever primary you feel like that year.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:54 AM on November 2, 2004

~45 minutes this morning in rainy Bloomington, Indiana. My polling place hosts two precincts but mine was the one with the big fat line. No challengers but then again, this is [unfortuantely] a very red state.

I was disappointed that I had to announce to the room that I needed a pen to complete a write-in portion on my ballot. BTW: we've used electronic MicroVote 464 machines since they came onto the scene. Not great, but better than Diebold.

And, most importantly, no damn sticker! WTF Indiana?
posted by Fezboy! at 12:02 PM on November 2, 2004

Mine went fine, but my mom.. They insisted she show ID, even though the NJ law is clear she shouldn't have to, and would not let her vote without it, insisting "no, no, for this law everyone has to."

So I called Common Cause, and the ACLU, and the League of Women Voters, and the NJ Dept of Elections, and the Monmouth County Board of Elections, and the Monmouth County Democratic Party, and the Monmouth County Republican Party, and the Asbury Park Press. And they descended down upon District #6 like vultures to a pile of rotting wildebeasts.

Don't fuck with me.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 12:03 PM on November 2, 2004

I did early voting, and I was the youngest one there by about oh, 20 years... no kidding. The line was about 15 minutes long.

Everyone was very, very uncomfortable and stiff, dead silence. It was at a waste-water treatment building and they had all these fly-over photos of bland waste-water treatment facilities. I turned to my dad and go "Wow, so they really felt it necessary to hire a plane to fly over and take pictures of this?" and he goes "They have to justify our water bill somehow" to which everyone turned and gave us bad looks. I felt very uncomfortable the rest of the time. Of course my state is 65% and has voted Republican since Ike... I was probably seen as some hippie liberal.
posted by geoff. at 12:05 PM on November 2, 2004

Dammit, we didn't have any stickers. I wanted a sticker!

So I was one of two voters in the polling place just now (the poll workers, all women 50-70+ with an average age of about 60, said that most of the people in the precinct had already voted).

There was very little internal debate about voting for me. We had three non-binding ballot questions: medical marijuana (yes!), baby havens (yes!), and repealing the Patriot Act (you betcha!) It was all over in about thirty seconds.

I have to say, though, I teared up a little while casting my Pres/VP vote. Not for the reasons I would have thought six weeks ago, either--I went from being a "lesser of two evils" voter to a "not my ideal candidate, but I'm proud of this vote" voter.

Unfortunately, I had recently disposed of my only black hoodie, but I suppose it would have freaked out the poll workers anyway. For some bizarro reason, I had to present ID, even though I've been registered to vote at my current address for at least three years, and I've been registered to vote in Massachusetts for 18 of the past 22 years.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:08 PM on November 2, 2004

A 50-minute wait for me in Detroit (the city, not a suburb) this morning. The busiest I've ever seen it. And yes, we had Republican observers -- the blonde in a pant suit and guy in white shirt and tie, both of them wearing American flag pins, stuck out like a sore thumb in my neighborhood. They just hovered in the back, watching; the guy occasionally jotted down a note.

Oh, and a toddler in a stroller threw up.
posted by pmurray63 at 12:08 PM on November 2, 2004

Rural NorCal, no lines just before 9am, didn't ask for ID, although I gave them my voter registration card to make it easier to look me up (worker said I was the first to bring one in), they were nice even though I am a D and the county is heavily R. Got a sticker!
posted by sageleaf at 12:10 PM on November 2, 2004

Outside Dallas, went during lunch to the local high school. No lines at all. The election workers were very friendly. It was the first time I voted using touchscreen rather than the lever. It probably took less that 5 minutes, parking included. And I got a sticker.
posted by cj at 12:18 PM on November 2, 2004

I live in an ultra-liberal suburb of an liberal state (Maryland compares well to Vermont in this regard) Point is, voters are motivated here. Lines are longer than Clinton/Bush '92, the previous high water mark (different technology, tho). It took my wife over an hour to vote at 8:30 in AM. I bailed, returned at what I thought would be an empty 11:30AM, was confronted with a 45 minute wait to vote.

I, too, ultimately had to fill out a provisional ballot, but I'm pretty sure it was an honest ****-up.
posted by mojohand at 12:21 PM on November 2, 2004

Took about 20-25 minutes in my lower Manhattan polling place, which includes something like 8 districts and 16 of the old-style lever voting machines (these are used throughout New York). I love the old machines, just because I enjoy flipping switches and moving a big giant lever more than I would filling out one of those standardized-test things or using an ATM-style machine.

However, they are about as vunerable to fraud as the Diebold machines.

Turnout seemed to be pretty impressive (though I have changed districts since the last Presidential election and can't make a direct comparison).

I got a lot of smiles and nice comments for my Kerry button, except at the polls, where the older lady asked me very nicely to cover it up.
posted by lackutrol at 12:23 PM on November 2, 2004

Oh , and I want my sticker too! Cheap-ass NYC Board of Elections.
posted by lackutrol at 12:24 PM on November 2, 2004

Voting went as smoothly as always in Wyoming. I've moved since the last election, so I had to drive around for a while and find this backwoods church. Lots of cars in the parking lot, but when I walked in it was completely deserted. Lights off, no booths, nothing. I finally spotted a tiny sign on the far wall saying "Vote Here." Followed the signs to a back room, waited for about 5 minutes to change my address with a nice but very deaf old lady, and was handed a ballot. We also use the connect-the-arrow and feed it into the machine type of ballot.

Now that I think of it, though, I hope it put it in the right way. The woman guarding the machine didn't seem to care which way it went in. Ugh, I hope that means I didn't screw it up. :(

No stickers for Wyoming - is this a new thing? It's the first I've heard of it.
posted by dual_action at 12:30 PM on November 2, 2004

I showed up 10 minutes before the polls opened (6:50) and the parking lot of the elementary school was already full. People were parking on sidestreets and walking several blocks in the rain. I had a roughly 45 minute wait, and the line got way longer as I moved up.


- I'm in a suburb outside Detroit.

- We had paper 'complete the arrow' style ballots.

- There weren't enough pens for all the booths, so I had to wait for my neighbor to finish, then pounce on their pen.

- The 'Reader' (Tallyer / whatever) was out of order, so we dropped our ballots in a box. In theory they will be counted.

- I got a sticker.
posted by adamkempa at 12:32 PM on November 2, 2004

In Portland, OR, I dropped my ballot off from the safety of my car. It was raining, of course. We can only vote by mail here, but I always wait until past the mailing deadline and have to drop it off. No sticker in order to prevent traffic delays.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 12:36 PM on November 2, 2004

Extremely rural Massachussetts (one of the unswingingest states in the election): No lines here, of course -- there were more poll workers than voters. One police officer conspicuously present, which I don't remember from past elections here. Plain old paper ballots, mark an X in the square next to the candidate and drop your slip in the lockbox. No stickers or other goodies: the town is saving up for a new fire engine.

I was missing from the state's printed list of registered voters, though the town clerk very apologetically confirmed that I was registered, and promised to sort it out for next time -- so I had to cast a provisional ballot. (Odd, since I registered years ago, and have voted at this precinct before without trouble.) Mine was the first provisional ballot cast all day.

Most races here are unopposed Democrats, Kerry's a sure win, and the only other initiative on the ballot was nonbinding, so it's a pretty low-stress event around here.
posted by ook at 12:47 PM on November 2, 2004

South Windsor, CT. 5 minute wait, 8:30 AM. Lever system. Felt the satisfying *crunch* of the curtain opening and the votes getting recorded.

I got to vote for someone named "Frances O. Knipple," which was awesome. And for 92 million bucks for new elementary schools.
posted by PrinceValium at 12:47 PM on November 2, 2004

- Voted two weeks ago by absentee ballot (I live in Canada)
- It was a "complete the arrow" type ballot (Snohomish County, Washington State)
- In Washington you do not have to declare a party, although I did so
- I've realized that the only problem with absentee ballots is no sticker :-(

Unfortunately, I had recently disposed of my only black hoodie, but I suppose it would have freaked out the poll workers anyway.

posted by deborah at 12:49 PM on November 2, 2004

Suburban Cleveland.

Wife and I arrived at 6:20, joined the line in front of the elementary school. I estimated 50 people in front of me. Doors opened at 6:30. We made it up to the table around 7:00, got our ballots without problem. I showed them my registration card simply because the brain trust at the counter couldn't figure out how to spell my last name (a very simple combination of two common english words...).

I voted (so many judges!), noting that nearly everyone running for office in Cleveland is named Connelly, Donnelly, or O'Donnel. I inspected my punch card for chads and handed it to the ballot lady.

I was given a sticker. (Our stickers never make it through the day on my shirt, I lost it at lunch.)

While I was loitering around waiting for my wife to finish (she actually takes time to consider whether to vote for candidates running unopposed) I heard some conversation between people in line and an apparent election board employee who was helping people find their proper precint line ... He said that there were, indeed, "election monitors" there, although all the people behind the desk looked unaffiliated to me. In other words they looked like the same folks who were there a year ago.

When I left, at 7:10, the line was at least 100 people deep.

I spoke with a friend around 11:30 who was helping a GOTV ride-to-the-polls effort, he said the wait in the area of Cleveland he was in was over an hours.
posted by sohcahtoa at 12:53 PM on November 2, 2004

Another Chicago voter, my polling place seemed to be housing two precincts, and I went to the wrong table at first. The judge directed me to the other side of the room, and I was on my way. The wait wasn't very long, although soon after I arrived there was a bit of a rush. Punch card system is in use here, and I checked to ensure chad wasn't hanging around. The card scanned fine, and I got my ballot receipt (no stickers).
posted by borkencode at 12:58 PM on November 2, 2004

hey dame im in bushwick, brklyn too!

voted at the senior center on stanhope at about 10am. not crowded. the voting machine scared me. i was unprepared for this sort of dread. i voted absentee into a seperate county in florida than the one i was living in last election so naturally voting makes me very nervous. that whole working families column made me a little confused. after i switched the levers i wanted i spent too much time looking at the mechanics of the machine and my poll assistant asked if i was "ok" haha.

and no damn sticker.
posted by c at 1:15 PM on November 2, 2004

Greenpoint Brooklyn, NY at 8 in the morning in the cellar of my local PS. The voting machines were nestled in a warren of vaults and passageways; lines of voters stretched throughout the space with different voting district queues seemingly overlapping the other. Found which district I vote in from the information man, got lost in the warren of passageways then finally found my district with its' massive red lever voting machine. Signed the book, got my card, and then stood in line and cast my vote. All in all it took about 30 minutes but nary a sticker was found. As I was leaving the queue stretched out the door and onto the sidewalk. People want to vote, and there was a mix of young first time voters, professionals my age (25), old Polish women, you name it; the cross section of America were voting in the vaults of Brooklyn.
posted by plemeljr at 1:17 PM on November 2, 2004

Vancouver, Washington (north of Portland)

The Boy and I got there ten minutes before polls opened, and the elementary school was deserted. At 7:00 there was a small line of people behind us. They looked happy to be doing their civic duty. I screwed up my ballot (fecking punch cards! Why don't they just do the Scantrons like Oregon?) and had to get a new one (no hanging chads--I checked), which they stuck into a provisional ballot envelope and had me fill out my vitals. No stub, which I thought was weird. The Boy got one, but he didn't screw up his ballot. I should probably call the county election office and ask them about it. I got a sticker, which I hope means that nothing's wrong.
posted by calistasm at 1:17 PM on November 2, 2004

Response by poster: Fascinating. Thanks for the replies, everyone.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 1:22 PM on November 2, 2004

Robbinsdale, Minnesota (first suburb west of Minneapolis)

Our precinct voted inside a church lobby, using paper ballots and an optical scanner. Same type of ballots we've always had (fill in an oval next to the candidate's name). I had to wait a few minutes in line for a booth, but the judges had me sit at a table to help my great-grandmother fill in her ballot.

Note to election comittee: Large print ballots would be nice, perhaps even a ballot with pictures. I think an electronic touch-screen machine would have been ideal for her, all Diebold trustworthiness aside.

Up for election: President, US Representative, State Representative, city mayor, environmental supervisors, and county judges.

I did get a nice red "I Voted" sticker. On my way back to work downtown, I saw several people waving Kerry posters at several intersections.
posted by bhayes82 at 1:23 PM on November 2, 2004

Oh, and a friend of mine, who lives in NW Indiana (suburban Chicago), was at his polls when they opened this morning. He said a poll worker opened the door and yelled out "Hear ye, Hear ye! The polls are now open!".

So cool.
posted by sohcahtoa at 1:33 PM on November 2, 2004

I was in and out in 5 minutes. i found that a bit disturbing actually.... in 2000 it took me over two hours at the very same polling place. I wonder if all the news about heavy turnouts and long waits is actually discouraging people from going? I hope not.....

But I did get a sticker.
posted by spilon at 1:35 PM on November 2, 2004

Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, NYC. At 9 am the line for my district was sooooo long, an hour and a half in line (partially because of turnout and partially because the old ladies who signed you in had the same organizational strategy as the supreme soviet). A bunch of people left in exasperation, but most stuck it out. So anti-climactic, but just awesome in general and satisfying, I love the working families party and I love pulling that damn lever, ca-chunk I totally pictured Bush straight dropping down the trap door in front of my desk.
posted by Divine_Wino at 1:49 PM on November 2, 2004

I'm in working class and gentrifying North Seattle. I voted in what appeared to be a portable shack outside a high school. There was a bake sale across the walkway from the polling place. No line at all and I got a parking spot right across the street (albeit in an enormous puddle, but I wear boots) without even having to parallel park at 1:30. That was nice.

The people voting seemed to be the normal mix of older folks and a couple 20-somethings that looked hip and politically aware. And me, the 20-something in the redneck costume. There was no police presence and the staff was the customary gamut of very friendly women in their seventies, bless 'em.

The ballot was an easily read and understood scantron doohickey. Only problem with that was the bills that are deliberately written to confuse the voters. Fuckers.

As for hanky-panky, apparently someone stole the "Polling Place" signs earlier in the day. The election staff simply fashioned new ones. As I said, this was at a high school, so it may have been kids doing kid stuff rather than sinister agents of Karl Rove/the Trilats/liberal media.

My only precaution was leaving my regular pocketknife at home.
posted by stet at 1:52 PM on November 2, 2004

I voted almost a month ago thanks to the "absent ballot" I received from my Republican Vermont town that I have a house in -- not the more left-leaning town that I am living in presently -- and also am almost one per cent of the population in. This is the first presidential election I have voted in since college and the last three months have been a snarling series of interactions and veiled threats with my liberal and progressive friends and relatives over the importance of this year's election, so I did it. I willl admit, voting for Sanders made me happy, also someone named Boots Wardinski. Got a sticker too, have been wearing it for weeeeeeeeekkkkks! My boyfriend just got back from the polling place in town and said it was fulll of people [no easy trick in a town of 1200] and went just fine. He also got a sticker.
posted by jessamyn at 1:52 PM on November 2, 2004

Also, no sticker. But because I snarkily believe that voting for a politician makes you an accomplice to their crimes, it's never been something I've liked to brag about.

But I do vote in every single election, even if it's just to write in random names instead of voting for candidates running unopposed.
posted by stet at 1:58 PM on November 2, 2004

Rural coastal northern California. The polling place serves 3 tiny communities and all the ranches and land in between. We got long fill-in-the-oval ballots which you had to fill out on both sides and markers to fill the ovals with. There were 2 other voters there with me at about 1:15 p.m. on a beautiful sunny, warm, fall day. Our community is so small that I know all the poll workers and they know me, so no I.D. needed. We got stickers and suckers!
posted by Lynsey at 1:59 PM on November 2, 2004

The polling place in Kew Gardens (Queens, NY) was hopping at 10:00 AM. Not much of a line in front of me, but it grew pretty quickly behind me. I noticed a number of first time voters. There was a bit of a delay before I could vote because the older Russian couple in front of me weren't sure how to use the machines.

And the lady at the machine who took my card said it was definitely busier than usual.

No sticker, but I did get to handle the big red lever.
posted by ursus_comiter at 2:00 PM on November 2, 2004

We got stickers and suckers!

I was cranky before; now I'm righteously cranky.
posted by gleuschk at 2:07 PM on November 2, 2004

Voted in Salt Lake City this moring around 7:30. Polls opened at 7. I had about a 20 minute wait, but one of the other precients voting at the same grade school didn't have a wait at all. I guess my neighborhood is more civic minded...or doesn't like to sleep in ;). Punch problems and a sticker. My main concern was voting against Amendment 3. I voted for a few Republicans so that I wouldn't feel like I was a party-line voter....but as usual I felt guilty that I hadn't researched all the smaller races. Next time.
posted by jacobsee at 2:21 PM on November 2, 2004

Los Angeles, CA - 8:00 AM Pacific Time. About a half hour wait to vote, everyone very friendly and patient, mood upbeat. 20-30 people waiting in line for five polling stations, age skewed youngish (20's and 30's). No ID required, no challenging, just tell us your address so we can confirm and sign here please. I miss the lever-style voting in New York with the curtains and the ker-chunk and all that, but oh well. One cop outside later on, just poking his head in to make sure we were okay, then leaving.

I live in an apartment complex that was built within the last two years, right next to a larger apartment complex that was built in the 1930's, and so our precinct maps are still a little screwy: my polling place is actually in the older complex's laundry room. That was no biggie today, since they left the gate open to the complex for us non-residents to come in by car or by foot, but for the March primaries, my husband and I basically had to break into the complex to vote (we followed a car in that had buzzed open the gate) and then break out again.

Oh: one middle-aged woman did come in, all cheery and enthusiastic, while I was waiting on line, saying she wanted to register. Response from the poll workers: um, sorry, you can't do that. Woman's husband: can't she get a provisional ballot? Poll workers: no, sorry, must register before the deadline in California. Woman walked out looking crestfallen. The funny/sad thing is, had she not walked in saying "I want to register" and with the filled-out-but-not-sent-in registration form right there in her hand, she could have lied and said that she had registered but hadn't gotten her ballot yet, and would have been entitled to a provisional ballot. Poor lady, better luck next year.

Voted for Senate, House, judges, and a slew of ballot initiatives (go Prop 63! go local mental health care funding for California communities!). Did not vote for President; left it blank. Sorry, Dubya, your disgusting endorsement of the FMA overrode everything, even my support for the war. That whooshing sound you hear is the one million queer votes you got in 2000 (one of which was mine) dropping their cards in the ballot box without your name marked on them.

And I got a sticker. Yay!
posted by Asparagirl at 2:21 PM on November 2, 2004

North Carolina...I spent the majority of today holding up a sicn outside two different polling crowded this morning, very steady through about 3:30 which is when I left. Gorgeous unseasonably hot November day-my nose is sunburned, and the rest of me is tanned!
posted by konolia at 2:22 PM on November 2, 2004

West Des Moines, Iowa. Went around 3:30PM, when the place was half-filled with elderly voters. I was surprised that they didn't ask to see a photo ID, which was probably best as the addresses don't match up. (I didn't update the license when I moved, but brought a power bill just in case someone needed proof of residence.) Got a ballot with it's Secrecy Envelopeā„¢, didn't have to wait for a booth. Iowa has a paper-based connect-the-arrow system, where you get a series of arrows with gaps in them and a black marker to fill in your choices. You then carry the ballot in the Secrecy Envelopeā„¢ (they were very emphatic on that point) and feed it into the scanning machine. Or the shredder... it did make a grinding noise. ;) Anyway, I was voter #799 in my precinct, but no sticker for me. Maybe they're saving it for voter #800...
posted by sysinfo at 2:24 PM on November 2, 2004

I voted about 8:20 in the morning. No one else was voting when I went in which is typical, but they asked to see ID this time. That never happened before. I voted using one of those old mechanical voting machines.
posted by maurice at 4:09 PM on November 2, 2004

Interesting voting sticker.
posted by lobakgo at 4:21 PM on November 2, 2004

Voted in Woodbury, MN after work today. I was prepared to wait in line a long time, and as I walked into the HS gym I thought that I would have to. Turned out that the long line was for those who would be registering (MN allows same-day registration) and I was able to get my ballot immediately.

Fill-in-the circle, but with a marker, which surprised me slightly. I'm used to the number 2 pencil routine.
posted by Coffeemate at 4:26 PM on November 2, 2004

I think the right to an "I voted" sticker should be enshrined in the Constitution.

/I didn't get one either.
posted by kickingtheground at 4:33 PM on November 2, 2004

Got to my precinct in Richmond, VA at 6:30 this morning, only to find that my precinct had moved. Didn't I get the notice? No, and neither did a lot of people apparently. So by 6:40 I was in line at the new location, a hospital. Basically in the Emergency Room, which I found to be a little odd.

The hospital was woefully unprepared for the hundreds of people filtering in, and the Board of Elections folks had no clue how to wrangle everyone. At one point they had us in three separate lines, and were calling groups of people into the room where the voting machines were according to where our last names fell in the alphabet. This meant that many, many people who just happened to show up at the right time were able to get in and out fairly quickly, and others like myself had to wait much longer. Inside the room, there were four voting machines for the hundreds of us. One of the machines broke soon after the polls opened, and no one had been by to fix it. I did not get to the entrance of the room where the machines were until just after 8:00. Had it taken any longer to get there, I would have had to get out of line in order to make it to work on time.
posted by emelenjr at 5:29 PM on November 2, 2004

I'm embarrassed not to know this because I did study a wee bit of US politics waaay back, but a. you guys vote for judicial appointments? I thought the judiciary was supposed to be independent from elected bodies? Separation of powers and all that... and b. So you register for a particular party to vote in the primaries... If you wanna swing the vote by voting for someone hopeless for your opposition, what's to stop you registering as a supporter for the opposition? Or am I just more cunning than the average N. American? Does it not make a joke out of the whole anonymous ballot thing?

Fantastic comments though, really interesting. Other observations from the outside world: I'm so impressed at the patience of people who will stand in line for hours to vote (don't think I've ever had to queue for the privilege)... and "I voted" stickers - so deliciously American, as opposed to "I've voted".
posted by penguin pie at 6:30 PM on November 2, 2004

a. you guys vote for judicial appointments?

Some of them. Yeah, I think it's too weird.

If you wanna swing the vote by voting for someone hopeless for your opposition, what's to stop you registering as a supporter for the opposition?

Well, what stops me (and I assume most people) is the fact that I then would not be able to vote in my own party's primary, which most people consider more important. An awful lot of people would have to be interested in spoiling the opposition party's election in order to successfully put a hopeless candidate on the general election ballot.

Does it not make a joke out of the whole anonymous ballot thing?

No. They still don't know who voted for whom. In some states, they don't even keep records of who belongs to which party. For example, here in Washington, you just pick one of the three available ballots when you arrive at the polling place. Or at least that's how it worked until tonight, when a voter initiative changed it. In Ohio, on the other hand, you must register your party affiliation before the primary.
posted by kindall at 9:05 PM on November 2, 2004

I am so relieved to hear
- that voter turnout has been extremely high!
- that voting hassles have been minimal!
- that all signs currently point to the count being honest!

Those three things mean that whatever the outcome, it's what the people really and truly wanted.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:05 PM on November 2, 2004

I've voted more than 30 times in my life, between primaries and general elections, and I have never received a sticker. Not once. In either NY or PA. I am owed, darnit. I want my sticker!

My voting experience itself was fine, as per usual. The poll ladies asked after my family, asked if my oldest is driving yet, and how old the baby is now, etc. I spent more time talking with the poll workers than I spent doing anything else There was no wait, as soon as I shared all the relevant information about my children, I went right into my booth and flicked my levers and was done in about 12 seconds. Then I had several more minutes of discussion (about rhubarb and making pie, of all things) with the poll workers.

The pleasantries were killed as I was stopped on my way out by a woman sitting in the vestibule with a clipboard. I thought she was an exit poller. No. She asked me if she could get my last name and the street I lived on. I asked who she was and why she wanted it. She said she was a democratic party whosiwhatsit and she wanted to know so that "no one would come knocking on (your) door later." I told her in not so polite terms that I had no intention of providing her with any information and if she wanted to send some party lackeys to my door, so be it. As it was already after 5 p.m. so I have no idea what in hell said lackeys intended to do at my door.

My mother and sister reported similar confrontations on the way out of their polling places. It bugged the hell out of me, and I intend to inquire as to the legality of it.
posted by Dreama at 10:18 PM on November 2, 2004

Oh, for the record, I'm in Pittsburgh, PA (in the city, not the suburbs) and we use mechanical lever machines, but ours don't have levers to pull to record and finalize our votes, they have big red buttons. Voters here get little perforated paper stubs as "proof of voting." (If you show them at locations of the city's favorite local restaurant chain, you get a free coffee or soda, though.) I was voter #279 out of 611 in our precinct and my husband, who went an hour later and got stuck in the after-work crowd, was #414. That kind of turnout at our precinct is absolutely unheard of.
posted by Dreama at 10:56 PM on November 2, 2004

I was a supervisor at a polling place in San Francisco today - I was at the poll from 6 am to 10:15 pm. I took a half hour to go to Safeway for sandwiches for my crew and 15 minutes to get a smoothie. We had 3 high school students, two older guys and me.

I was in Pacific Heights, a wealthy part of San Francisco, and while I've never voted there, the two older poll workers had worked at this precinct for years and said they'd never seen it so crowded. We had a slow hour or two between 10 am and 2 pm, but for most of the day we had all 8 polling booths full and anywhere from 4 to 13 people sitting at tables around the room. In the end we processed over 600 voters, not bad for a precinct of about 6 square blocks.

We use paper ballots with an optical scanning machine called an Eagle - ours broke down three times, and we had to accept ballots into a bin and then scan them later when the machine was fixed.

There was no drama, no challengers, no irate voters - all in all it was as low key as a 16 hour day interacting with a steady stream of strangers can be.

I myself voted yesterday in the basement of city hall. Now I just want to know who won.
posted by bendy at 12:13 AM on November 3, 2004

Also, we ran out of stickers about 20 minutes before the polls closed.
posted by bendy at 12:21 AM on November 3, 2004

Thanks, kindall, I am now the wiser...
posted by penguin pie at 4:45 AM on November 3, 2004

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