Long lines, pissed-off voters, and drinking games


Read your neighbors’ stories below — and contribute your own election day stories, anecdotes, photos, and opinions. Click on Contribute News and submit your story directly or e-mail it to editor@tcdailyplanet.net.
The voting scene was pretty calm at the Baker Center today, located in West Saint Paul. Although there was long line when the doors opened, the rest of the day went pretty smoothly.

Ariana Rivamonte-Young is a first-time voter this year. She said her experience was pretty fast and calm. She says her biggest issue was the wildlife preservation amendment, in addition to the presidential and senate elections. She said she left the judges blank, because she would rather not accidentally vote for someone that she didn’t like.

Karen Vavreck, who works at the Baker center, says her job was to call 911 if anybody trips. Like Rivamonte-Young, Vavreck didn’t vote for the judges. “Most of those I don’t know anything about anyway,” she says.

“If there’s only one person on there,” said one woman as she was leaving, “they shouldn’t have to be on there.”

Mr. Michalec, another voter at the Baker Center, said his biggest issue was taxes. He said that voting today was easy.

As for myself, I woke up to two messages on my cell phone this morning. They were both from the same local number, a number I did not recognize. The first read: “Due to long lines today, all Obama voters are asked to vote on Wednesday. Thank you.” The second was “I just hit 2-hour wait mark. Still outside.” Baffled as to how anyone could think that a person would be so stupid as to fall for that, I made up my cheat sheet based on information from the League of Women Voters, and cast my ballot. (Sheila Regan)
About 3:30 this afternoon everyone waiting in line along Lyndale Avenue S. turned their heads as a high-pitched sound came roaring towards us. It was a yellow school bus filled with pre-schoolers at the windows shouting and waving “Obama, Obama, Obama, . . . . ” as it rode past us. What a delight to see and hear excited kids while we adults waited to vote at the VFW Ballentine Post. Alas, the one time when I didn’t have my camera with me today! (Margaret Reinhardt)
At the Daily Planet, we’ve been asking you to submit your experiences and stories of the day. I think this one takes the cake for best – if most frightening – story of the day:

Dear Editor
On Saturday, November 1 I was phoning to get out the vote for Obama. A woman told me she was definetly voting for him and all democrats.She said she had recently visited her sister in South Dakota, though, and it was a different story. Her sister, husband and friends there sincerely and really believed that Barack Obama had been implanted with a chip. Our enemies had done this without him knowing. When he took office in January the chip would be activated and the country would be taken over by “bad people”. She tried to convince her relatives this was crazy but they were unshakeable.
Julie Landsman

Cruising the web, I think it’s safe to say that lines are long at Minnesota polling places – it’s the obligatory story for every Minnesota news website (including ours). For all the worrying that huge turnouts would cause voting machines to break down, so far no-one is reporting any problems. MinnpPost reports that the Minnesota Election Protection Team, a coalition including Common Cause and the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, has mostly received reports of “honest mistakes by undertrained poll workers and overwhelmed election officials.” So far, the biggest hiccup in the Twin Cities seems to have been a power outage in St Paul’s Merriam Park neighborhood, when a car hit a telephone pole and knocked out electricity to two polling places. MinnPost’s Joe Kimball writes that it wasn’t a big deal: when power was restored at 9:30am, the paper ballots voters had filled out all morning were fed into the counting machine.

On the subject of voting problems, Fox News is pushing a story hard that two “Black Panthers” were intimidating voters at one Philadelphia polling station, basing most of their story on an interview with a GOP election observer. An Obama volunteer on the scene disputes this, according to TalkingPointsMemo.com, saying one of the men was an “officially designated poll watcher.”

The Pioneer Press and Politico bring us a story of how Democrats – probably remembering former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris’ role in the 2000 election – have built an “administrative firewall” in Iowa, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, and Ohio, made up of Democratic Secretaries of State. Having Democrats in these positions, the reporter says, will help the party protect the masses of new voters registered in the run-up to the election and at polling places. These voters were key in many of Obama’s primary wins and, pundits say, will probably do the same in this election.

One Twin Cities group, the League of Pissed-Off Voters has been at the forefront of a lot of these Get Out The Vote (GOTV) efforts. I was walking to get coffee this morning, when I found copies of their endorsement slate stuck underneath many of my neighbors’ windshield wipers. To this Totally Non-Partisan Journalist’s eyes, the pamphlet has pretty cool design: candidates are rated “Oh, Hell Yeah” through “Well, Okay” and “Hell No”, with little blurbs explaining the referendums, candidates’ campaign issues and qualifications, and reasons why the League made their picks. You can find the guide on their website. Mattie Weiss, a self-described “big-time volunteer” and former regional organizer with the League, said they had around 1,000 hits on the guide as of noon today, in addition to the 20,000 paper copies they’d made (and already run out of!), and the 10,000 more she said they’d be printing to finish the day. The guide, she said, was the culmination of about six weeks of work by six volunteers, researching and interviewing candidates and proponents of referenda.

The League of Pissed-Off Voters is the local affiliate of the League of Young Voters, a national organization with 501c.3 non-profit and Political Action Committee (PAC) arms, that tries to engage “unlikely voters” under 30 from diverse racial and class backgrounds to get involved in politics through concerts, poetry slams, and “vote mobbing,” where activists converge on crowded public places to teach information about voting rights and procedures to passers-by. They’ve funded themselves mostly through individual and foundation contributions, although they do have a growing grassroots funding base, according to Sam Dorman, the Managing Director of the national League of Young Voters.

Whichever way the election turns out, though, Rich Goldsmith, of the Defenestrator blog at the Rake, has a fun-sounding drinking game to play while watching election coverage. Just don’t drink and vote, ‘cause it’s illegal.
By noon, some Uptown voters had been waiting for hours in a line that stretched from the Lyndale VFW post around the corner and up the street. The mood was cheerful, as citizens discussed politics and showed one another cell phone photos of their Halloween costumes. I stopped at The Beat and brought coffee and a muffin for my friend, who shared the snack with her new acquaintances in line. The wait was much shorter at my voting place: Temple Israel at Hennepin and 24th. After just ten minutes in line, my apartmentmates and I were able to grab ballots (with easy registration for two of us who have just moved to the neighborhood) and vote. Overheard at the ballot table: “So I fill this out, and then put it in the machine?” “Yes, sir, in that order.” (Jay Gabler)
OMG! My husband and I had to wait in-line two hours to vote this a.m. in 6-2. When I saw the crowd winding down and around the block I started crying. Hip hip hooray for democracy. I have never seen a line of this magnitude in the 18 years we have voted in this neighborhood. People were upbeat and positive. I didn’t hear one person complaining. There were some pretty funny “shock” faces when people arrived to vote and saw the long line. (Barbara Lickness)
This morning at about 7:25 I passed my polling place at Whittier Park and the line was longer (all the way to Harriet) than I have ever seen it. Despite my encouragement, Sheba (my best friend) has decided to sit out this election. She isn’t registered and can’t really make up her mind when it comes to politics- there are other things that are more important to her-like food and excrement! Though I know in her heart, she is favoring Obama.

I can’t imagine that people who are on their way to work, will wait for an hour to vote. I was told there was a line before the polls even opened-but that seems to be a recurring story all over the city.
Luckily i voted last week at City Hall. One of the smartest moves I have made in quite some time!

harrry greenberg
Ah, no real need to be non-partisan. The organized presidential candidate with super enthusiastic supporters is Obama.

AND, a reminder, please vote YES on the constitutional amendment for the environment. If you fail to vote it is counted as a NO vote.

Jeanne Weigum
St. Anthony Park a half block from the Obama office
A member of our family (St Paul public school teacher) went to the polling site in Highland Park at 6:15 AM. She was 5th in line. By 7:00 there were more than 300 people waiting, with lines out the door of the church at Snelling and Highland Parkway.
I drove by the St. Paul public school in Merriam Park and counted more than 200 people standing outside in line (not counting those inside the school.

Took a walk about 5:30 AM in St. Paul and saw many cars with cards on windshields urging ” VOTE TODAY” and a candidate’s name on them.

I also stopped by the campaign office of the presidential candidate whose folks had been out putting cards on cars (sounds like we are keeping this non-partisan) and picked up a sign to hold on Snelling later today. The campaign office said they had no plans to have people on Snelling today but if I wanted to do this, it was fine. (Have done this in many, many elections going back 30 years).
The campaign office staff told me that they planned two major locations for early morning and later afternoon signing. (one in St. Paul and one in Minneapolis)As I drove west on University from St. Paul to Minneapolis, I saw several dozen people holding signs on street corners and bridges, all for the same candidate.

Joe Nathan
Humphrey Institute
Universitiy of Minnesota


Steve and Karin Spencer with children Lydia and Samuel outside the voting line spilling out of Brackett Park. (Photo by Scott Russell)

Report from Scott Russell: Steve Spencer said he arrived to vote at Brackett Park this morning at 6 a.m.—an hour before the polls opened—with work to read and a copy of “An exact replica of a figment of my imagination. “ He was second in line. The guy in front of him told him he got there at 5:30 a.m.

When I bumped into Spencer and his family at 7:30 a.m., there were 221 people queued up outside of Brackett Park’s doors in Minneapolis’ 2nd Ward. (I didn’t count how many people were lined inside the building. I didn’t want people to think I was line jumping.) The outdoors line stretched down 39th Avenue South and took a dogleg along East 28th Street.

Spencer said arrived early because of a work conflict later in the day. Plus, “I don’t like waiting in line.”




Report from Fred: Near North Mpls

At 7:00 am There are MANY people at the polls at NorthPoint for Precinct 5-4 Homewood (s of 14th w of Penn) at 7:00 AM

I went there to check it out, the line went from the lunchroom, up the stairs and across the lobby and starting to wind around, but not out to the back ramp so far.

Note that this was just as the polls were opening so the backlog may clear up fairly quickly. But more people were arriving. There was a Strib photographer taking a picture in the lobby.

I recommend voting later if you can – between 9 and 4 is recommended to avoid the before/after work rush. Be prepared to wait. There are lots of neighbors to visit with in line.

But do V O T E.

At 7:45 am:

Still many people Now the line goes to the front door, but not on the sidewalk. update from Fred. Seems to be one line, not using the back door ramps.

At about 8:00 am :

Northpoint the wait time was about 1 to 1.5 hours The line continues to wind around the lobby at out the front door to the ramp. Suggestion come to the front door.

Urban League the wait was about 1 hour (the line wondered around the halls inside and out the front door and half way dow the sidewalk to the east end of the building.

At 8:40 am at Northpoint the wait time still seems to be 1-1.5 hours

Laura Waterman Wittstock in SE Como: Van Cleve Park had a small group of voters out at 6 am. At 6:30 the line filled the sidewalk outside the park building to the street and down for two blocks. By the time the doors opened at 7:00 there was probably an hour of waiting for those at the end of the line. At 7:20 the line was all the way down 15th to Como.

The lines were moving quickly, however, as voters were invited to use chairs in addition to the available booths. Friendly volunteer and judges were skilled as they moved the line along.


Desnoyer_Park.jpgWhen the polls opened at 7 a.m., 153 people were already standing in a line that stretched down the block at Desnoyer Park in St. Paul. The first voter said he had arrived at 5:45 a.m.

“I have to pick up my grandson and then go to work,” he explained. “This was my only chance.”
Dear Editor
On Saturday, November 1 I was phoning to get out the vote for Obama. A woman told me she was definetly voting for him and all democrats.She said she had recently visited her sister in South Dakota, though, and it was a different story. Her sister, husband and friends there sincerely and really believed that Barack Obama had been implanted with a chip. Our enemies had done this without him knowing. When he took office in January the chip would be activated and the country would be taken over by “bad people”. She tried to convince her relatives this was crazy but they were unshakeable.
Julie Landsman