November 4th, 2008
04:52 PM ET
6 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. Angela

    As long as you're in line when the polls close at 7:00 p.m. (in Missouri) they will still let you vote.

    November 4, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  2. JOSH in BKLYN

    Stay in line people! We need those votes! We do not want a close-call situation, where this election falls into the hands of corrupt politicians recounting and "misplacing" votes. Leave no margin for error.

    November 4, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  3. Chris D

    Has anyone seen the movie "Lord of War." One of my favorite lines from the film is when the dictator tells Cage's character that thanks to his nations (USA) supreme courts election debacle, the U.S. can not question the legitimacy of his election.

    This is priceless, because we are the leaders of the free world and we can't elect a leader democratically. Good grief. Whats even worse is that we try to spread our own brand of democracy from the end of the barrel of an M-16.

    With widespread election day troubles do we as a nation still even count as a democracy?

    November 4, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  4. brenda

    as long as those people are in line before the polls officially close at 7PM they will be allowed to cast their vote.

    November 4, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  5. Susan

    Everyone who is in line before the poll closing time WILL BE ABLE TO VOTE BY LAW!!! That is being reported on CNN as well as Fox. Hopefully early voting will be done in ALL States in the future. Only the McCain voters will benefit if any Obama voters leave because of the long lines.

    Iowa Grandma for Obama

    November 4, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  6. Illinois Voter

    They won't close until everyone in line has cast their ballot. They're reporting this all over now it seems. Just thought I'd spread the word.

    November 4, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  7. CT for Obama

    If the polls close the voters in line cannot be turned away, they must be allowed to vote.

    November 4, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  8. norma - wisconsin

    Its the most preposterous event imaginable, that after 2 forged presidential elections, no one had the foresight to see that our nation was free of voter fraud and long lines. Eight years ago we had our second national disaster – a presidency bought by the courts and four years ago our court system allowed a group called "swiftboaters" to defame and slander an American hero, John Kerry's war record. Today we have a war hero that no one can comment on because that would be too disgraceful. Democrats don't go that route anyway, but the Republicans have used the most scurrilous and scathing ads that we've ever seen. I hope I'm around to see them get their due. I wish I could understand what keeps Republicans believing they are the better party. Look around you everyday – can't you admit what you see?

    November 4, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  9. Graham in California

    Niky, as long as you're in line when the polls close, you will be allowed to vote. That's the law, anyway.

    November 4, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  10. Jeremy

    According to the law, anybody who is in line when the polls close, still gets to vote.

    November 4, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  11. Kate, LA, CA

    If you are in line by closing time, they must allow you to vote.

    November 4, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    The line gets cut off at whatever the pre-decided closing time is (usually the poll closing time or a half hour early) and everyone in line at that time can vote.

    November 4, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  13. Jessica

    just as long as people are online at the time polls close, then they can still vote

    November 4, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  14. Shelly

    In St. Louis, we must be in line one hour before the polls close, so at 6:00 PM. Otherwise you don't get to vote, but they will stay open as long as it takes to get the people who were there by 6:00 through.

    November 4, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  15. Lauren

    As long as you join the line in MO by 7pm, you get to vote.

    November 4, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  16. Aaron

    If you're in line by 7pm, you get to vote. That's what they say, anyway.

    November 4, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  17. Chris

    Anyone who is in line at the time of the polls closing is able to vote. The line is not the fault of the voter, but the fault of the polling location. That is the logic behind it.

    November 4, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  18. Alex

    If you are in line before the closing time, then you are still allowed to vote. You are not allowed to join the line after voting hours have ended. So, as long as you are in line before closing hours, you can still vote.

    November 4, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  19. eileen

    Im in oceanside california working the polls. We have no lines here. Wish st. Luis had more volunteers.

    November 4, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  20. Obama

    Nothing. They keep polls open until everyone in line at poll closing time gets their vote.

    November 4, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  21. John

    If you're in line at 7PM, you get to vote, no matter how long the line

    November 4, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  22. Brooke Orosz

    Niky, In most states, the law requires the polling place to stay open until every single person who was on line at closing time has voted.

    So, late nights for them, eh?

    November 4, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  23. Marlociaette

    Jennings is the hood

    November 4, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  24. Lauren

    As long as you are in line by 7:00 pm, they have to keep the polls open for you to vote.

    November 4, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  25. county_voter

    MO rules are that if you are in line at closing time (7:00 p.m. CST), you will be allowed to vote, no matter how late it gets.

    Where I voted this a.m. in west St. Louis county, there was a line of 20+ people waiting for the touchscreen machines so it was much faster to ask for a paper ballot instead, which most people did.

    Adequate numbers of poll workers but it is funny that every election, the line to check in with last names beginning with P-S is 3x as long as the other lines with similar alphabetical divisions. Something idiosyncratic about the distribution of last names in the precinct.

    November 4, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
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