November 2nd, 2008
05:40 PM ET
6 years ago

CNN Voter Hotline: Long lines, excitement as voters cast early ballots

Call CNN's voter hotline with your concerns or problems with voting.
Call CNN's voter hotline with your concerns or problems with voting.

NEW YORK (CNN) - Enthusiasm at the polls continued on Sunday with waits for early voting in some states stretching to six hours. The CNN Voter Hotline got calls this weekend from voters awed at the turnout and others frustrated by the wait.

In Columbus, Ohio, 27-year-old Dana Zoladz and four friends gave up after realizing there was a six-hour wait to vote at the Franklin County early voting center at the Veterans Memorial. She said would try again on Election Day.

Her father, Dan Zoladz, told the CNN Hotline that, "Six hours is ridiculous in terms of waiting in line."

The county spokesman, Michael Stinziano, said people began lining up as early as 6:30 a.m., even though voting did not begin until 1 p.m.

"I think it is fair to say that we had a four hour line before we opened the doors," Stinzi said in an e-mail.

In Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, lines were stretching "about two blocks," said Mike West, spokesman for the county election board.

West said the atmosphere in line was upbeat. His voting location opened up an hour earlier than scheduled to accommodate the crowds.

Both counties said anyone in line by the 5 p.m. closing time at would get to vote.

To date, the Hotline has gotten close to 25,000 calls including nearly 6,000 seeking their voting location and over 8,100 have called to tell CNN about an issue they had registering or voting. CNN's partner, InfoVoter Technologies has also transferred 16,000 callers to their local board of elections so they can get answers to their problems.

In Florida, where long lines have been an issue, Cesar Jimenez called the Hotline three hours into his wait.

"I still haven't had an opportunity to vote," Jimenez said from the line up at the Parkland Library in Parkland, Florida. "It seems crazy."

Reached at his home later in the day, Jimenez said he finally voted at 2.p., five hours after he showed up. Despite the long lines, Jimenez said the mood was upbeat.

"Everyone seemed to have an incredible spirit of wanting to vote," he said. "They were having sandwiches brought to them from home and having take-out brought to them."

The Broward County Web site showed wait times between two-and-a-half to six hours at voting locations.

The long lines were a concern for voters in Florida and Ohio, especially elderly voters. Munir Venjenk, 84, told the Hotline he gave up after waiting for an hour on Saturday and finding out he still had two hours to go.

"The lines moved extremely slow," he said. Venjenk said he would wait to vote on Tuesday when more locations would be open.

In Virginia, one caller called to say she waited five and a half hours on Saturday to vote with her mother. But if needed, Virginia has special services for voters over 65 and elderly voters. In some locations, poll workers will even come out to the cars to help them vote without having to get in line.

"It's not fast-food voting," said Susan Pollard of the Virginia State Board of Elections. "It's designed for people who truly need assistance."

Pollard said some locations have buzzers that voters can press to get a poll worker out, or they can call their registrar ahead of time.

Virginia absentee voting ended Saturday.

In Indiana, where there is in person absentee voting until noon on Monday, the turnout has been strong. Close to 557,000 voters had submitted absentee ballots as of this morning, said Jim Gavin, spokesman for the Indiana secretary of state. In 2004, 262,000 absentee voters cast ballots.

"There's been a tremendous amount of interest," Gavin said. He described lines in Marion County as "busy and long."

In California, San Diego voters are waiting up to three hours to vote at the county registrar office, according to CNN affiliate XETV.

CNN will be tracking voter problems through Election Day. If you have a problem or see a problem, or want to tell CNN about your voting experience, call the CNN Voter Hotline at 877-462-6608. See what issues are a concern in each state by clicking on the interactive Hotline map at CNN.com/hotline.

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