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

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


[cnn-photo-caption image= caption=" 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. Teresa

    This story is opposite of what they are saying here in Missouri. They said the line's were 1 to 2 hours in St Louis and Kansas City.

    November 4, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  2. Harry

    Maybe Mr.Bill Gates will create or has already created voteing on the internet patterns. come now. if they can protect peoples banking through the internet i am more than sure they can protect it from fraud!

    November 4, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  3. anne

    The problem is some people have to go to work and can't wait in line for 4 hours. Election day should be a national holiday so that people who have to go to work can still vote.

    November 4, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  4. Carol

    I live just down the street from Jennings and had to go back twice because of long lines.When I did get in line it was about an hour and a half wait. People were friendly and happy so the wait wasn't bad. It helped that we are having perfect weather in st louis!

    November 4, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  5. Noire

    I live near Jennings in Northwoods, Missouri . I went to the polling place twice. Once at 7:20am and again at 11am. When I returned at 11 some people were still there from 7am and did not leave until 12:30 or so. I did not leave until after 2:30pm. I agree with the board of elections. No one wanted to really use the touchscreens for fear that their vote may not be counted correctly. I did use the touchscreen and I am very confident that my vote will be counted. Even with the wait, I am extremely excited about today and the right to vote freely ;-D

    November 4, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  6. st louis county annoyed resident

    I waited an hour and 15 to the polling place at 6:07am. Then got to desk with election officials..and my name wasn't even in the registered voter BOOK!?! (i've lived here for a little over 2 years). One is registered to vote when you get your license in MO.

    Then I was told to go to a "different" polling station (I had recently moved).

    However, I was finally "allowed" to vote, filling out an affidavit form.. Just hope my vote is counted.

    I went "electronic" because the paper feeder was already getting jammed (7:30am)

    At least no hanging chads... I went the electronic route...

    November 4, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  7. Mary

    I don't understand why we are still having issues with long waits at the polls. BUT- For all those of you who DID wait it out and vote- a HUGE THANK YOU! Anyone who doesn't think it's worth the wait- I have two words for you. "George Bush." Remember what happened in 2000 and 2004.

    November 4, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  8. Diana

    I was at the polling place at 6:20am ... also in St. Louis county and had to wait nearly 2 hours... to be exact... 1 hour and 54 minutes! It was insane! People were lined up around the building! I just had an appendectomy a week ago, so it was quite uncomfortable! It is obvious that the areas where most minorities live have less-than-Adequate polling facilities and equipment because just like in 2000... in st. Louis... where Kit Bond has a major Hissy fit and refused to let everyone vote... even though many had been in line from 6am that morning... It is obvious that they are trying to rig it again!

    November 4, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  9. ruth

    I was just reading an article about the 2004election in Rolling Stone magazine. With a Republican Secretary of State, people in line when polls closed WERE turned away despite the law against this practice – at least in some cases.
    This may sound paranoid, but we citizens have to be on the alert as the vote counting begins.

    November 4, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  10. Democrat is Rush Limbaugh Hometown!

    This happened in 2000 in STL city. I think the officials knew this year would be even greater turnout than 2000. It's STL city, and it wouldn't surprise me a bit if the judges want there to be a line all day to discourage a big turnout in downtown/STL county. I read somewhere online that 88% of STL and KC would have to turnout (highly dem areas of MO) in order for Obama to win in MO. Thus, why not disourage STL and KC from voting as much as possible? It ensures a McCain win. I hope the proud citizens of STL city and KC city line up before 7pm and cast their vote. Hopefully there are enough ballots ready and they won't run out like some precincts did in past elections.

    November 4, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  11. Shameem

    We already know Virginia Gov. Wilder was leadind 10-12% point long ago but he won the election by a point. Also, we know Bradly effect. Now my question is all over the World knows Obama is leading all polls from A-Z except few and then Obama lost. Do you think all over the World will find out America is a RACIST country?

    Please forward to John King, Anderson, or Wolf can give me a answer to night.


    November 4, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  12. Miguel Gutierrez

    I got in line at 5:45. I didn't leave the poll until almost 7:30. We need to vote in Obama

    November 4, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  13. STL-Veteran

    10 Minutes in St. Charles County MO – But we use optical scanners and they must have had 50 booths to vote at the poll worker said it had been crowded first thing but steady all morning. And 75 degrees to boot ... what a wonderfull day in St. Louis...

    Obama wins MO 49-48!!!!

    November 4, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  14. Bethany

    MO does not allow early voting (the repubs in the state have made sure of that). Furthermore, some subtle voter suppression tactics are used throughout the city and other leaning Dem areas. I live in Midtown STL and was at my polling place at 7am. The line was stupendous. I come to find out that there are 3 precincts voting in 1 room with 2, yes 2, voting machines, 1 optical scanner, and 5 places to sit and fill out a paper ballot. The Dem parts of the city always have too few machines. Furthermore, most of us had been sent registration confirmations without a precinct listed on it. A lot of switching lines took place.

    November 4, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  15. BJHare

    With so many issue choices on the ballot it does make the lines move slowly. Perhaps in a presidential election year it would be wiser to split the balloting, with voters selecting only the president/VP on election day. For that matter, the issues could probably be voted on by email. Too late for this one, but perhaps in the future? Just a thought. The weather in Raleigh, NC is dismal for election day...would hate to stand in it for six hours!

    November 4, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  16. KC in St. Louis

    It took me over 3 hours to vote. There was utter chaos at my polling place. There were not enough election officials and they were very unorganized. There were 3 eletronic booths and about 8 regular booths for individuals to mark their paper ballots!

    November 4, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
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