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. stacy

    As long as they are in line by 7pm they get to vote.

    November 4, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  2. Tim

    anyone in when the polls close will get to vote...it could be a long night.

    November 4, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  3. jadedat51

    I hope that the campaign workers in the greater St. Louis area are out there giving moral support to all those standing in line to vote. Don't let those long lines discourage anyone from voting.

    We shall overcome!

    November 4, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  4. SuZanne in Oklahoma

    This is the most amazing day in political history....not only here, but all over the world......the world is watching to see if the super-power will change it's destiny. I have never been more proud to cast my vote for a man who deserves it......Barack Obama. So please, please, wait as long as you need to cast your vote.....our future is in our hands.

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

    It is very likely there will be a motion by either GOP or DEM lawyers to keep the polls open later then the closing time. Either way if your in line the time the polls close you can still vote.

    November 4, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  6. Trash

    If they are in line before the poll closing time, LET THEM VOTE!

    November 4, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  7. Andy

    The poll stays open til the last vote which accounts for some of the delays.

    November 4, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  8. Kevin

    Rob, Jennings is in St. Louis County – not St. Louis City. Might want to check what is typical where.

    November 4, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  9. 37-year-old First Time Voter

    Well I'm from St. Louis and I voted early this morning about 6:15 am.

    November 4, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  10. Darren

    "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."

    November 4, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  11. Hey Rob

    Jennings IS in the county, not in the city. So, I'm not sure what you are talking about....I don't think you actually do know what you're talking about. Maybe there are no problems in the "republican county" because no of them want to vote for McCain

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

    WITH WORKING UNTIL 8PM AND TRYED TO GET TO VOTE THIS MORNING WAS TOO LONG OF WAIT. i HOPE I CAN GET OFF EARLY.

    November 4, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  13. Stephanie in St Louis

    I haven't heard from anyone having a 4-6 hr wait in my area of St Louis. (central St Louis County) I only waited 1 hour.

    Don't let the reports scare you! Go out and VOTE. Your wait may not be long at all.

    Obama in 08!

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

    i thinnk they should allow other countries vote justt to see who they like better

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

    well u know, if ur in line b4 the polls close u can stil vote!!!1

    November 4, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  16. John Church

    Not for this blog.....
    Among all the reports of polling problems, I would like to hear what percentage of all
    the precincts actually have a problem. I would guess it is very small, and not
    in proportion to that suggested by the reporting.

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

    Hmmmmm I wonder why a voter wouldnt want to use a touchscreen voting machine??? I hope Faux news starts straight talking to these people instead of feeding them a bunch of crap....their misinformation is dangerous.

    November 4, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  18. Greg

    It's good that they won't turn away anyone who is in line by the official closing time, but it's absolutely ridiculous that anyone should have to wait that long. And how many parents, etc. can afford to set aside 4 to 6 hours to vote? How many are willing to skip dinner and stand around outside for six hours at night in November?

    November 4, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    actually-it has been said all day-you are gauranteed to vote if in line by 5pm

    November 4, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  20. Missouri in Philly

    Are you kidding, 8 years of bad economy? where have you been? The economy has been rocking since recovering from 911... High gas prices and lack of oversight on Fannie and Freddy have put the skids on this economy only recently (and both the failure to drill domestically and failure of key Dem legislators to heed the warning signs about risky lending are to blame). If you want change, the Dem house and Senate is already giving it to you... and when they repeal your tax cuts, everyone will stop spending and the economy will really shut down.

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

    I bet if we looked at voter turnout for each polling place in 2000, 2004 and today, we'd find that the ones having the longest lines today had the lowest turnouts in past elections. A lot of voter registration drives were aimed at North County municipalities – and this is the natural result.

    November 4, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  22. Robb

    I live in the County here, my polling locations uses paper ballots and had one electronic voting machine. In the 60 minutes I was in line I saw one person attempt to use it, took her 20 minutes, no idea why. She eventually went to a paper ballot. For the paper ballots a single ballot box with a reader is used, 2 co workers reported that these readers broke down at their polling location, took 2 hours to get a new device in place (These were St. Louis City voters). Voting issues in St. Louis city occur every major election, followed by efforts to intervene to keep the polls open longer so people can vote, followed by republicans calling dems cheats, followed by votes being thrown out, followed by promises to improve the promise, repeat.

    November 4, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  23. pamela

    How is it that we are not prepared for Election Day, knowing that this would be an historic day for the polls and Americans would be getting up and placing their votes!

    November 4, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  24. True Blue Ohio

    Having a voting machine to every 110 people seems to be terribly ineffcient. The fact that people have been wating in line 4-6 hours to vote is evidence of that. I am sure the process would be expedited if they used paper ballots instead.

    November 4, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  25. Stacy

    I live just outside St. Louis in Missouri. Turnout in my area this year is at least 3 times what it was in '04 and I'm in a relatively small, suburban town. Expect the wait but don't give up! EVERY vote matters, every vote. If you're in line to vote at 7 PM, your vote counts.

    November 4, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
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