Voter Turnout Numbers: Long Voter Lines Indicate Record Numbers Comparable to 2008

Polls are open all over the country and the common theme so far is that voter enthusiasm is high. If voter lines on the East Coast are any indication, then expect voter turnout to approach the record levels achieved during the 2008 Obama victory.

Boston: Voters in South Boston said they had to wait an hour or more. The line for the polls at Condon Elementary School stretched down the street and snaked around the building. In Somerville, by 11 a.m., some were waiting at least two hours to vote. The line for the polls outside of Ciampa Manor, a senior housing development on College Avenue in Davis Square, wrapped around the block. A person gave out free coffee to those waiting outside in the cold, said Boston.Com.

South Carolina: Conway Belangia, county elections director told USA Today, “Poll workers around Greenville County, S.C., were struggling to process heavy turnout and long lines led to voter confusion for at least one polling place.”

Virginia: Lines at the polls stretched outside onto the sidewalk Tuesday morning at Ellis Elementary School in Prince William County, Va., a swing district that could help decide whether Obama or Romney wins Virginia’s crucial 13 electoral votes explained the Wall Street Journal. At Stonewall Jackson High School, some people went away without voting Tuesday morning due to long lines, said the Journal.

Florida: Long lines and infrastructure failures continue to plague Republican Governor Rick Scott. Central Florida voters were waiting in lines for up to four hours since the polls opened this morning noted the Orlando-Sentinel. Orange County Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles explained to the Sentinel that the lengthy ballot, which is printed in English and Spanish and runs three pages, was slowing the process. The tabulating machines, he said, were not designed for such ballots. Infrastructure and operational failures have been rampant in the state throughout the early voting period and have now extended into Election Day. Scott seems unwilling or incapable of addressing the numerous problems that have been reported throughout the state over the last four days of voting.

Michigan: AnnArbor.com reporter Been Freed found that there were long lines in Washtenaw County, a likely reflection that a lot is at stake both locally and nationally. Detroit News cited that lines were “stretching hundreds of voters deep at their respective precincts.”

New York: The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy has impacted voting waiting lines. The New York Times reported “Across the storm-damaged region on Monday, bleary-eyed, disheveled residents drove long distances and waited in long lines at government offices to cast early ballots, and many said voting felt like an important step back toward normalcy.” And today, the line to vote at an East Village polling station extended half a block down First Avenue and rapidly built westward on Ninth Street. By 8:40 a.m. at least 175 people were patiently reading papers, manipulating smartphones and drinking coffee, advancing not even a foot a minute said the paper. The Times reported that more than 100 polling places in New York State had been changed, including about 60 in the city. Most were in Brooklyn and Queens; in two cases, in the Rockaways and the Throgs Neck section of the Bronx, the city was setting up polling places in tents powered by generators and outfitted with portable heaters. The city’s Board of Elections also arranged for shuttle buses that would run every 15 minutes to ferry voters to and from polling places in three areas hit particularly hard by the storm: the Rockaways, Coney Island, and Staten Island.

New Jersey: CBSNews reports that lines were long in Point Pleasant, N.J., where residents from the Jersey Shore communities of Point Pleasant Beach and Mantoloking had to grapple with polling changes across the state. Many there still have no power eight days after Superstorm Sandy. In Bergen County, residents of Moonachie showed up to a vocational-technical school to vote, in the same gym where many were evacuated a week earlier after rising floodwaters swept through their town. New Jersey had taken several steps to address voter disenfranchisement caused by Hurricane Sandy. Governor Christie issued a directive that displaced New Jersey residents would be allowed to vote through email and fax and New Jersey Division of Elections spokesman Ernie Landante told CBS, “the state had taken extra steps to make sure people displaced by Sandy's destruction would be able to vote, like allowing "authorized messengers" to pick up as many mail-in ballots as they request for people in shelters or away from their homes.”

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