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

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

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 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. Susan

    Its worth it.
    If you can wait overnight to get an iPhone or a thanksgiving deal, you can do so to contribute for the nation.

    November 4, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  2. The World for Obama

    UNACCEPTABLE.

    November 4, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  3. TH in GA

    They said as long as you're in the line by the time the poll closes, you're still eligible to vote. So if you're poll closes at 7:00pm, if you get in line at 7:01pm, they're going to turn you around. So just be in line by 7:00.

    November 4, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  4. The Prophecy Fullfilled

    if your still in line b4 the closing time, you will get to vote. 4-6 hours is less than 4-8 years :P

    Never doubt the Bible again... It is really happening here and now:

    .. “And in the land shall rise the son of Cain” From the north The Deceiver[Palin] a known Beast of false witness, will take the mark of Cain.
    Together they seek to spread fear and invoke hate among the refugees of sin.
    In their quest for power they will ignore the light of truth shining on the deeds and words they proclaim.
    But take heart, for throughout the land the seekers of light shall rise up and not be fooled. With their strength, the mark [Cain] will be cleansed from the earth and no longer hold power to sway the blind.

    Can I get an amen...? :)

    November 4, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  5. Tiff of lithia springs

    NIKY,

    AS LONG AS THOSE PEOPLE WERE IN LINE BEFORE CLOSING TIME LAW STATES THAT YOU HAVE TO LET THEM VOTE.

    MY QUESTION IS, IS MISSOURI ONE OF THOSE STATES WITH NO EARLY VOTING PROCEDURE. THAT IS GOING TO BE A NIGHTMARE.

    ME AND MY KIDS ARE GOING TO THE MOVIES.

    November 4, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  6. Matt

    If you are in line when the polls close, you have the right to vote.

    November 4, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  7. TOME

    GO MCCAIN/PALIN!!!!!!

    November 4, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  8. Cee

    It's about time we changed our way of casting a ballot.
    FOR ALL ELECTIONS:

    1) we should limit the LENGTH of TIME candidates are allow to campain. – 6 to 9 months IS ENOUGH !
    2) we should allow 2 days for voting- that way positive eligibility can be AND SHOULD BE determined
    3) We should limit the amount of advertising money a candidate can spend on both the print and video medias
    4) we should limit tTIME and the AMOUNT OF COVERAGE by the TV medias.

    November 4, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  9. angie in dallas 28

    by law they're suppose to let them vote. ALL who are in lines..

    November 4, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  10. allen saylor

    i voted for mccain because he said he would bankrupt the coal fields

    November 4, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  11. Matthew

    You can vote as long as you are in line by the time the polls close.

    So go vote!

    November 4, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  12. andrew

    typically a monority democratic voting area. no suprise stl is a racist city. i hope they can fix the problem

    November 4, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  13. LL

    They have to let them vote as long as they are in the line before the polls close.

    November 4, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  14. Christine

    I voted at my precinct in the City of St. Charles, St. Charles County, right outside of St. Louis. I was in and out of my polling place in 12 minutes. It was better than when there is a school district item on the ballot! Truly surprised I had no wait at all. Kudos to the workers at Null School polling place at 7:45 a.m. this morning!

    November 4, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  15. G

    I believe they will keep the polls open until the lines subside

    November 4, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  16. David

    By law, the people in law are still allowed to vote....unless they illegally turn the voters away....I mean that has NEVER happened in anywhere like Florida or Ohio before.... haha

    November 4, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  17. Boye

    From what I hear, polls will remain open. They would probably stop admitting people in line when the polls should close, then let everyone in line finish off.

    November 4, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  18. I voted in Sacramento, CA!!

    Please continue to wait!!

    Barack the Vote!!

    November 4, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  19. Fred

    Gee, people don't trust the touchscreen voting machines? Can't imagine why...

    November 4, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  20. jarinteractive

    It was a 1.5 hour wait when I arrived at my polling location in St. Louis County at 6am.

    November 4, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  21. Ms. F

    They have said that they will let anyone vote who is in line even when the polls are supposed to close..

    I have heard though in the past of this not actually happening..

    November 4, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  22. New Day

    Niky – I think they can go to a judge to have the polls stay open later. Atleast, they have done that in the past.

    CNN – how about posting atleast one of my comments today?

    November 4, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  23. Garret

    By Federal Law anyone in line when polls close is still allowed to vote.

    November 4, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  24. jennifer

    everyone who is in line when the polls close is entitled to vote. could be a long night!

    i didn't have to wait at all when i went to vote this morning at approximately 8 am in northern indiana. i was at work at my desk by 8.45 am. co-workers tell me they only had to wait 20 minutes to an half hour when they showed up at the polls at 6 am.

    November 4, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  25. Nick

    Depends on the state/county. I believe in most, they will take everyone who arrives in line by the closing time, and stay open until that last person who arrived at closing time gets through.

    November 4, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
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