November 4th, 2008
04:52 PM ET
10 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. HouseDiva

    i live in the white republican part of town and it only took me 10 mins. to vote.

    my family member lives in the black democratic part of town, and it took him 5hrs. to vote.

    November 4, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  2. Chris in St. Louis

    I waited 15 minutes to vote at around 9:30 am

    November 4, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  3. whs

    After 9 am people could walk in and vote in 1/2 hr. McCain '08

    November 4, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  4. Amy Kathleen

    The voting process took an hour and a half in my part of the county- although if you had a last name that didn't start with A-D, it only took an hour, we all seemed to show up at once. I didn't mind, every one was in really high spirits- maybe because most everyone hit up the coffee shop across the street first (although if the lines were more than 2 hours long, that might cause a problem)

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

    I was shocked when I went to vote because all over the country the news was saying the wait was hours, when me and my husband got there we where the only ones in line. We went at 9:30 this morning and we live in Colorado. Thank the gods for early voting!!!

    November 4, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  6. Ebony-StL

    I waited for 3 1/2 hours to vote and I was at the polls at 6am. This a celebration day for me. Today is my birthday and I am loving all the people that are out voting. Voters just stay in courage,don't get angry,keep saying in your in head if I don't vote Bush(McCain) will remain in office for another 4 possibly 8 yrs.

    November 4, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  7. McCain

    McCain will win. Waste 6 hours of your time in the slums of the city and vote for your black man loser if you must

    November 4, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  8. gg in St. Louis

    St. Louisans HOLD On!!! We can do it!!! We will stand strong for ourselves and our nation. I have seen the long lines and I am so proud of my neighbors. We must stand together and show how we do it in the LOU!!!! Go OBAMA we got your back!!!!!!!

    November 4, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  9. Izzy in Canada

    Those lines are awful – we had an election in Canada a few weeks ago and it took me 15 minutes total. I hope people don't get discouraged and leave, it would be a shame if it affected the outcome.

    November 4, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  10. Xavier, Saint Louis, Missouri

    I voted for Obama this morning and it took me about 2 hours at the most. But it was worth it! I'm telling everyone to get out and vote today! Unless they are voting for McCain. If they are voting for McCain, then they need to vote tomorrow.


    November 4, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  11. Steph F.

    I waited for 1 hr 45 min to vote and got in line right at 6 AM. It was kind of cool to see folks, young and old alike, up and at 'em eager to make their voice heard. I felt really good (and sleepy) all day.

    November 4, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  12. onelove

    Out here in Los Angeles I went this morning before polls opened at 7am. The line was long so I left and came back around 12:00pm. I got right in and out. I would have waited much longer after work hours if I had to.

    Amazing what we can do when people feel good and happy.

    November 4, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  13. DW

    From St. Louis, it took a little over 2.5 hrs to vote this morning but not as painful waiting in line as one would think...especially given the history in the making. No problems, peaceful, everyone was courteous to one another and zero riff-raff. Good experience.

    November 4, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  14. Voter

    We have to protect our future and demand our rights as voters and those that hold us hostage. We can not allow them to alter the outcome either way. Let us make the decision for ourselves. Remember one love, one country, one America.

    November 4, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  15. Michele

    I voted in west St. Louis county and there was a 20 minute wait this morning. My husband voted at 2:30 and there was no wait what so ever. Voting will take longer in the heavily black populated areas such as Jennings. No surprise its taking 4 hours.

    November 4, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  16. go mccain

    nice try Jason ... go USA!

    November 4, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  17. Lala

    McCain ALLDAY!!

    November 4, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  18. Lala

    McCain ALL DAY!!!

    November 4, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  19. Deb

    I voted in St Louis this morning, I waited 2 hours-there are a lot of issues on the ballot in MO this year. Add high turnout and first time voters to that and it is not surprising that it is a long wait. I know my fellow St Louisians will do what it takes to get this election won!.
    PS – On a local TV news report- they said people started singing songs together-so the comraderie is there!

    November 4, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  20. irritated voter

    I waited for over an hour before the schmuck volunteers changed the lines and forced me to the back of a different line when I was at the front of the line I had just waited in. I said screw it, "my vote doesn't count anyway, I'm leaving" and in all honesty, my vote doesn't count – as long as we have an electoral college.

    November 4, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  21. Proud NC Swing Voter

    One standard national way of voting, with paper trail, is the only solution the citizens of this country should accept. This is RIDICULOUS! My mother voted today in another part of St. Louis and she said it took her 15-17 minutes total, largely due to coloring in all of the ovals on the optical scan ballot, not waiting in line. And, yes, she insisted on a paper ballot.

    Maybe one of the first issues Obama needs to attack is a fair, standard, national verifiable voting system in the U.S. FINALLY.

    November 4, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  22. Bill

    It would be very interesting to look at average wait times in predominantly republican areas vs. predominantly democratic ones, to see if there is a significant difference.

    November 4, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  23. Nick G

    This turnout should not have been a surprise to St. Louis Country Board of Elections. During the general election two years ago, my mom waited in a 2 1/2 hour line at a polling place just north of Jennings. At the same time, my polling place just west of there in Florissant, MO was almost empty.

    November 4, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    It's the Show-Me state, who wants to have their vote stored on some hard drive. They want to see their vote as a real entity. I live in Kansas City and the 1 electronic machine at our location was not touched while I was there. People are very skeptical of electronic voting.

    November 4, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  25. Susan

    Mr Clay is a misguided fool most of the time. I live in St. Louis Suburbs and I was at my poll 20 mins tops, I must have hit the right time. If you are in line by 7pm you get to vote if it takes till Christmas to get through the line.

    November 4, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
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