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. Lisa S - St. Louis MO

    I waited for over an hour and I was at my polling place when the polls opened this morning at 6 am.

    Voters, do not be discouraged...bring a book, music, whatever it takes, but stick it out!! This election is too important!

    November 4, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  2. CT for Obama

    I don't understand why they don't have more places for people to vote. It's not as if there wasn't enough time to get things ready and they knew that turnout would be overwhelming.

    November 4, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  3. Obama Biden '08!!

    This morning, I waited 3 1/2 hours in Jefferson parish, LA precinct 232B. They only had 3 voting booths, and hundreds of people in line. I thought it was kinda ill prepared to have only 3 booths for such a large number of voters, but that was a wait I was willing to take!!!

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

    I believe if they are still in line when polls officially close, they will let those people vote, but allow no others who missed the deadline. So if you show up one minute after closing you're not getting in.

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

    If you are in line when a poll closes, they are suppose to let you vote, no matter how long it takes.

    November 4, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  6. ryan

    As long as voters are in line by 7 p.m. then they can still stay and vote.

    November 4, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  7. donna

    I guess I shouldn't complain about my 2 hour wait to vote this morning. Niky, I live in St. Louis County, as long as you are in line to vote by 7 p.m. you will be allowed to vote.

    November 4, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  8. Artie

    @Niky: In Virginia, as long as you're in line by 7 pm (when the polls close), you will still be able to vote.

    November 4, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  9. Brian

    I waited 2.5 hours this morning starting at 6:15 A.M. in St. Louis county (Ritenour School District). Although this was a long wait, they did have ~6 electronic voting booths and ~15 paper booths. I think this particular polling place seemed prepared enough, I just think it's time we caught up with technology and switched to a more convenient voting method.

    If we cna keep our financial information online, why do people think we won't be able to use a similar system for voting purposes?

    November 4, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  10. Adam

    If you are in line by 7:00 PM you get the right to vote. It doesn't matter if you have to wait until 3:00 AM... you still get to vote.

    November 4, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  11. fense

    At 7 pm they send a poll worker to the end of the line. Anyone in front of them gets to vote, not matter how long it takes.

    I like the paper ballots - it eliminates a bottle neck - there were 20 to 30 people voting at once at my poll this morning. The only bottleneck is checking id's against "the book" and giving them a ballot.

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

    Kudos to those who have a choice on whether or not to use a paper ballot choosing the paper. Until the machines leave a verifiable trail that cannot be tampered with, the machines are a huge liability. Especially with the Republican party's willingness to suppress and subvert voters at the drop of a hat.

    November 4, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  13. Topher

    Sounds painful and unnecessary. Question: Did the the area have early, or advance voting opportunities? If not, then what was the expectation and preparedness?

    November 4, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  14. Lawrence in Denver

    Waiting for hours in line versus four years of someone you do not want in office is well worth it.

    I, on the other hand, voted for…

    Obama/Biden!!!!

    ~Lawrence in Denver

    November 4, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  15. Zachary Silverstein

    As long as you are there by 8pm EST then you will be allowed to vote.

    November 4, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  16. dfisher

    niky – as long as people are in line by 7pm CST when the polls close, they can vote no matter how long it takes.

    what the StL County judge doesn't tell you is they usually have 2 to 4 electronic voting machines but many more people can fill out a optical scan ballots at the same time. so the fact that people don't trust the machines (and who wouldn't trust a diebold voting machine?!) isn't likely the issue.

    November 4, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  17. Noah

    At the closing time, a judge or poll worker will get on line and anybody in front of him will be allowed to vote, however long that takes. Anybody behind him is out of luck.

    November 4, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  18. Sarah

    Missouri needs early voting. Surely these long lines will bring about change for the next election. To require all voters to vote on one day is crazy.

    November 4, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  19. meredith

    As long as you are in line before your polling closes you will still be able to vote.

    November 4, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  20. J9

    I live in St. Louis.....the lines were crazy.

    November 4, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  21. Jen Obamarama

    I find it appalling that it takes 4-6 hours to be able to vote. Completely uncalled for. They might think that they were well-prepared and they can defend it all they want...regardless, voters are still waiting 4-6 hours and they have no one to blame but themselves.

    Even though it may be terrible, hopefully everyone in STL realizes how important the election is and continues to ride it out!

    November 4, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  22. Amanda

    Niky: As long as you are in line before 7:00pm in Missouri, you have the right to cast a ballot tonight.

    November 4, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  23. Ridgeway

    Wow! 4 to 6 hours? Man, ACORN has been busy. The old adage for Chicago Dems "Vote early. Vote often." Seems true eh?
    Meet me in East Saint Louie, Louie, meet me at the polls. Hmmm Judy Garland? No?

    November 4, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  24. norma - wisconsin

    What is it about elections that the American people don't get. We allow the same voter machine companies to come in and fix their corrupt old machines. Is this the best we can do. I hear we have soggy ballots – water dripping off voters' clothing. Then there's broken machines where we have these same people who has the ability to switch disks in a minute – come in and switch disks to fix the machine. I only have a high school education, and even I have more sense than that. If its happening again – maybe we can have the Supreme Court fix the machines. How stupid can we be time after time.

    November 4, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  25. Cathy in Vermont

    I am guessing these are not the parts of St Louis where the McCain folks live.

    November 4, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
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