November 4th, 2008
04:52 PM ET
9 years ago

Wait times reach 4 to 6 hours in St. Louis area

 A long line of voters wait patiently outside their polling place to cast their ballots in St. Louis.

A long line of voters wait patiently outside their polling place to cast their ballots in St. Louis.

ST. LOUIS, Missouri (CNN) - Long lines at polling stations across the city are no surprise, said officials at the St. Louis County Board of Elections. Callers into the CNN Voting Hotline reported waits of 4 to 6 hours in the northern suburbs of Jennings and Velda City.

The county's board of elections assistant director Dick Bauer said a lengthy ballot and what he expects to be a record turnout have slowed the process. Voters can make as many as 37 selections on the ballot today, and 10 of them are issue choices, said Bauer.

Voters in line at two polling locations in the suburb of Jennings have been experiencing waits of 4 hours or more, according to U.S. Representative William Lacy Clay. The congressman said both Jennings City Hall and Fairview Elementary were understaffed to handle the crowds.

"As we expected, the St. Louis County Board of Elections authority was ill-equipped and ill-prepared for the mass of humanity that showed up to exercise their constitutional right to vote today," said Clay. He said two judges were in place at Fairview Elementary where upwards of 400 people were waiting in line to vote.

Judge Joseph Goeke, director of the Board of Elections, said Clay's statement was incorrect, and that Fairview Elementary had 12 judges all day. He said the county was planning to add another two judges this afternoon. In response to Clay's accusations that polls were ill-equipped and understaffed, Goeke said his plans for today's elections exceeded requirements.

"We're required to have one voting device for every 124 people, and I have one for every 108 or 109," said Goeke. Goeke also said voters in St Louis County have 25% more equipment than he has ever deployed in an election.

St. Louis County has touchscreen and optical scan equipment. Goeke said that "outside influences" are trying to dissuade voters from using touchscreen machines and that some of them go idle at polling stations.

"It's a shame certain advocates are slowing down the process by telling people to take paper ballots", said Goeke, "we have more than enough equipment available."

Filed under: Missouri • Voter Problems
soundoff (191 Responses)
  1. Shari, NY

    Hang in there people! It is a sacrifice that will be well worth it at the end of the day. Thank god, I was in and out in a little over an hour despite a slight glitch with one of the machines.

    November 4, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  2. Niky

    What happens if polls close and there are still huge line-ups?

    November 4, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  3. Priscilla Alnabulsi

    I think they should abolish the Electoral College. I dont understand how the voice of the people can be heard if it goes by a majority rules on a staate to state basis..If we could hear each individual voice then it would be an election of the popular vote. Even our election process is sensored.

    November 4, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  4. Glenn in California

    For our country's sake, I hope they have the patience to stand in line until their vote is counted. Every vote will count, especially in states like Missouri, where it will be close.

    November 4, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  5. Dem Voter

    How could a voting place be understaffed to handle the crowds. News flash, they didn't just decide last night that everyone in the United States would be voting today. This election has been going on for months and places like St. Louis aren't prepared for the crowd of votes. Unbelievable. Who are the stupid people running these poles. There is no excuse for these things happening, why don't they have more machines and workers.

    November 4, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  6. Pat

    I live in St. Louis. I had no problems at my polling place this morning. It was early and the lines were long but I voted a paper ballot (my choice) and was out of there in less than an hour. There appeared to be plenty of staff available to handle the situation.

    November 4, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  7. Obamafied Cheesehead

    Palin said, "I hope, pray, believe I will be able to wake up as vice president elect."

    I think she needs a box of tissue before she falls asleep after a heavy loss

    November 4, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  8. Rave

    Please wait, read the Bible, browse your Iphone, Instant message your Friends or Family, Listen to some music, talk to your responsible fellow Americans in the line ... But Please wait and vote for the only real person in this election : Sir. Barack Obama (2008 -16)
    I want to see McCain's face after this election.. He lost this election and he lost his respect also with it ..with all the negative campaigning and scams

    November 4, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  9. Barbara in NC

    Any republicans trying to steal the votes there? Or suppress the minorities?

    Always happens.

    November 4, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  10. jet lag

    53 minutes wait in mid-town New York City this morning
    not a McCain-Palin fan in sight,We were making jokes about
    Bush and Palin as we waited, Great time!
    "Question: What will Bush put in his Presidential Library"?
    Answer: "Toilet Paper". jokes like that.

    November 4, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  11. Mrs.L

    Thats right make them count every vote the old fashioned way.

    Paper and Pen!!!!!

    Not Now
    Not this time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 4, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  12. I LOVE YOU



    November 4, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  13. NJ


    November 4, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  14. EJ from St. Louis

    The state of Missouri needs to come into the 21st century and have EARLY VOTING!! That would lessen the lines in the urban areas of Kansas City and St. Louis where most of the voters live.

    November 4, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  15. zionvier

    ouch, I got to my local polling location 45 minutes before they opened and was the 20th person in line. By the time they opened the doors there were already 200 people behind me at 7am, I was done by 7:10. I applaud those people who are not only able, but willing to wait 6 hours.

    It never ceases to amaze me how every 4 years we can peacefully elect new leaders. There's some countries I'd fear for my life to have to stand in line for 6 hours to vote.

    November 4, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  16. We Are All Real Americans

    I hope none of those people waiting in line for hours are losing pay they need to feed their families in order to exercise their Constitutional right. I also hope nobody had to leave the line and give up their right to vote in order to keep a job. This is America, can't we do better than an invisible poll tax in the form of lost wages for people who may not be able to afford it?

    November 4, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  17. CanIcallyouJoe

    I live in South St. Louis County, Missouri.

    I *literally* just now got back from voting (Obama btw. Suck it Reps.)
    Anyways, I used the electronic voting machine again this year… and the one I was at, and the one next to it, NEITHER were printing a paper trail for the selections. I had the people change out the drums and everything, and they said it must have been happening ALL MORNING!!

    This even happened in the primaries earlier when I voted for Obama and it showed up as Mitt Romney…. "somehow".

    I am on the phone with Election Protection as I type this.

    Wow. Election reform. NOW.

    I am 23, and am tired of having my voice silenced. It is my generation that has to die for the profit of politicians after all.

    November 4, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |

    if your in line, you will still get to vote, it's federal law they have to let you vote.

    November 4, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  19. A, Los Angeles

    Don't be discouraged. Stay in Line. Stay and Vote. America is counting on you!!!!

    November 4, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |



    November 4, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  21. Barbara in NC

    Niky – anyone in line at that time is entitled to vote and they have to keep polls open until they do.

    November 4, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  22. zionvier

    Niky: If you're in line when the polls close they must allow you to vote no matter how long it takes.

    November 4, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  23. Rick

    Maybe if the democrats weren't dragging in every bum they find sleeping on the park benches and exchanging a pack of cigarettes for a vote the lines wouldn't be so long.

    November 4, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  24. The American Dream is Alive and Well

    I think if you are in line when polls close they will allow you to cast your ballot.

    November 4, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  25. Kim

    I hope people don't give up! Hang in there, and make your vote count!

    November 4, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
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