Election Day 2012


Photo by PoPville flickr user afagen

How have everyone’s voting experiences been like so far. Some folks are writing in about pretty long waits. If you had to wait on line – how long did it take you? For those who voted in 2008 – how does this year compare?

118 Comment

  • About an hour at Stuart Hobson in NE–Arrived at 715. Afraid I didn’t live in DC in 2008, so no comparison.

  • Almost 2 hours at EL Haynes Charter school. In 2008 15 minutes at LAYC.

  • 30 min in Woodley Park at 7am.

  • About 45 minutes down in Alexandria — and I got there at 10 after 6! I was in and out in about 25 in 2008, and that was voting in DC.

  • Took about 2 hours at the Mt Rona church on 13th and Monroe.

  • I was 0 for 3 trying to vote early in PG County. There were not just long lines, but nowhere to park at the polling places. I’m leaving work at 3:00 today and voting on the way home.

    Can’t wait to vote for Malcolm Peter Brian Telescope Adrian Blackpool Rock Stoatgobbler John Raw Vegetable Brrroooo Norman Michael (rings bell) (blows whistle) Edward (sounds car horn) (does train impersonation) (sounds buzzer) Thomas Moo… (sings) “We’ll keep a welcome in the…” (fires gun) William (makes silly noise) “Raindrops keep falling on my” (weird noise) “Don’t sleep in the subway” (cuckoo cuckoo) Naaoooo… Smith

  • Arrived at the COlumbia Heights Ed Center around 6:15. Finished voting by 7:30. However, by the time the polls opened at 7, the line had already trippled. I LOVE that people get up to stand in line to vote before the polls even open. For some reason, I really just like the civic togetherness of voting.

    • Yeah, but I think it’s proof that DC should open their polls at 6am. I woke up and looked out my window around that time and there were already long lines. I’m going to try after work– the lines might not be shorter at 4:30 but t least it’ll be warmer out.

      • they should open earlier, but i wonder how much more money that one hour would cost DC? i mean i don’t know anything about this. but DC isn’t exactly rolling in benjamins (at least the actual city… i’m not talking about the crooked politicians), so i would imagine it’s saving some money to make peeps wait.

  • Here is hoping we dump either Orange or Brown, or both. Haven’t voted yet but I seldom have more than a 5 minute wait as I usually go in the middle of the day.

  • Took nearly an hour at 7:00 am at Marie Reed. The polling place didn’t have me on the rolls (changed my address a few months ago), so I had to vote by special ballot.

  • I voted early on Saturday in Ward 6, had to wait 3 hours but I wasn’t sure if I could make it today, so I stuck it out. Most everyone stayed to wait which was inspiring in a way.

  • Almost two hours at Tyler Elementary in Southeast. Got there around 7:30 and left around 9:20. The lines for names beginning with A–G and P–Z were really long; there was no wait at all for H–O. With only one voting machine, the waiting times for electronic ballot and paper ballot were about the same. (I did paper.)

  • anon. gardener

    About 45 minutes at Barnard Elementary in Petworth. I was surprised they only had one machine. I used the machine, but paper would have been faster.

    • I voted in 15 minutes at Barnard Elem. at 8:00 this morning. Luckily, I was in the S-Z line, that saved me about 20 minutes. Paper ballot was much faster than the electronic.

  • Got to Chavez charter school (Ward 1) at quarter of seven and left around 7:20. But it was chaos. Long lines, confusion. I love our poll workers, but man, they are SLOW. Also, our electronic voting machine was “not working” which it turns out meant that no one had the password to turn it on. Glad so many people are out voting, but we need a more efficient process. There are five lines to wait in: 1) get in the building; 2) get poll worker to find your name, get your signature, write your name and SMD on a small piece of paper; 3) turn in piece of paper and get correct ballot; 4) get voting booth space; 5) submit ballot into voter-eater machine and get sticker. Seems like steps 2 and 3 could be streamlined.

    But I will say it was better than the experience I had in the primary. Almost no one there when the polls open and no one could find me a pencil to fill in the ballot with (I hadn’t thought to bring my own …).

    • saf

      “voter-eater machine” is my new favorite phrase.

    • I also voted at Chavez in Columbia Heights, but it took me an hour (I got there at 7). Everyone with a last name in the middle of the alphabet couldn’t line up properly because of voting “booths” (which were far from private, felt like filling out a deposit slip at the bank) in the middle of the room we had to wrap around and it was a total cluster. Finally they cleared those out, but for some reason our line still moved VERY slow. I’m thankful for the poll workers and I know they are trying their hardest, but I saw a neighbor of mine show up 20 minutes after me and finish voting before me since his last name was at the end of the alphabet. It seemed like things were slightly less chaotic by the time I left, but the line was also twice as long. Hope they got the machine “working.”

  • Apparently the government is closing early today…why? The polls are open pretty late, or you can vote early, and most bosses are forgiving if you have to come in a little late because of it. I’m sure the folks with 3 hour commutes have already voted early or made other arrangements.

  • 25 minutes at ParkView Rec Center. Wife and I were ballot 124 and 125 already. Long line, they had the alphabet divided into three lines, some of the poll workers were much faster than others.

  • 2 hours at Shaw-Garnett. Got there at 7:30 AM.

    • wow, got there at 7am and I waited an hour exactly, but it was longer for certain segments of the alphabet than others. By the time I left the line was at least twice as long as it had been at 7.

    • My absentee ballot arrived in the mail last night, thank god! I drove by Shaw-Garret at 745am this morning and it looked like a total sh#tshow. I was going to have to vote there if the absentee didn’t arrive on time. Thank goodness it did.

      It took my co-worker 3 hours to vote near Pentagon Row. She got there at 6:45am.

  • Polls were supposed to open at 7, but they opened at 8 at Washington High at 300 Bryant St NW. The line moved pretty quickly after that – without the delay, I would have been in and out in 20 minutes tops. The ballot reader informs me that I was voter number 59…

  • Nearly two hours at Goodwill Baptist Church on Kalorama. Waited maybe 25 minutes in 2008.

    • Same here. I remember voting at Goodwill in 2008 and thinking, holy crap that was easy! Even with record voter turnout it was smooth.

      This year it was absolute bedlam, with hoards of confused and frustrated people yelling at the poll workers. Nobody was explaining what was happening, or where the lines started. They kept changing which lines had which last names, but not telling anyone, so people got all the way to the front after waiting for 30 minutes, and then were told, “OH, Cs are now in the A-B line.”

      Finally someone screamed at them to change the signs and they did…

    • Does anyone vote at Raymond School? I’ve never had a line there and am wondering how it looks today.

    • Yes, Goodwill was a nightmare this year. Much more disorganized than in 2008. A few thoughts:

      1) Thanks to the election volunteers for their time and patience. Obviously, this is not their fault.
      2) Sweeping reform of DC’s polling stations should be a high-priority issue. It was chaotic enough to create several ways it could pervert the democratic process. Most obvious, the time people had to wait could have easily discouraged them from voting. But also, the lines were so intermingled that it would have been easy to slip in or out of one, even after having already submitted a ballot. The ballots were just sitting in the voting booths that the various lines wound around. Poll workers couldn’t keep an eye on them because they were too busy trying to fix “paper jams” in the voting machine (I hope, but doubt, that there was a back-up) and other issues that wouldn’t have arisen had the whole process been better organized.
      3) I can’t imagine it’s possible to have less helpful signage than the polling place had this year. Invest a minimal amount of money in creating better signage and we could probably alleviate a good deal of the chaos.

  • Arrived at Kennedy Rec Center (7th St in Shaw) at 7:20am… 2.5 hours later I deposited my ballot. Complete disorganization and dysfunction – once you finally made it inside after waiting 90 mins in the cold. For some reason known only to DC Board of Elections bureaucrats, they had separate lines for names A-B, C-F, and then one monster jumbled up line for virtually the rest of the alphabet. No staff or volunteers to help with crowd/queue control, answer questions, direct traffic among the myriad of mysterious lines you were required to wait in, etc. Worst voting experience I’ve ever had (including FL ’00).

    • Same experience here. Kennedy Rec was pretty disorganized. Poor or no signage, not enough poll workers. Really slow, took 2.5 hours. Also, only one electronic voting both.

    • Exactly one hour for me at Kennedy after arriving at 10:10. VERY poorly organized; some simple changes would make it much better (e.g., better signage; more logical and demarcated lines; not hiding the paper ballot machine behind the electronic voting line; etc.).

    • I walked in to Kennedy Rec this morning at 7:40 and saw the line and left. I am hoping it isn’t as bad tonight so I can vote.

  • Over 2 hours at Kennedy Recreation Center on 7th and got there at 7:20am this morning.

  • ….and this is why i vote absentee.

    • Amen to that! No lines and absentee voting has actually improved my participation – the ballot for every election gets mailed to me so I vote in every eletion, even the special ones and the off-year ones.

      • that’s part of the reason i do it, too – i also i travel unexpectedly for work so i never know if i will be around on election day.

  • 2.5 hours at Mount Bethel Baptist Church at 1st and RI. Huge lines outside and confusion inside, but generally people are in great spirits (love the civic spirit) and the poll workers are trying to get people through!

    • novadancer

      whew – now my 45 minutes on Friday in the cold wind at Judiciary Square isn’t looking so bad! I was worried that the lines/process would be slow at Bethel.

  • Reeves Center: 90 minutes. Waited in line to go through the metal detector. Waited in line to check in. Waited in line to pick up a ballot. It was a bit of a cluster, no one knew where their proper line was. Most ridiculously, there was ONE electronic voting machine and ONE line for picking up a ballot if you did not want to wait in the electronic voting line. It seems like DC doesn’t realize how many people live and vote in DC, and are woefully underprepared.

    • 2 hours at Reeves. Ditto everything said, not to mention the person staffing the one electronic voting machine didn’t know how to work it, and walked away without a word to anyone for about 30 minutes.

  • Voted at the Chavez prep school (Ward 1) and it was terrible. I was in line early so didn’t have to wait too long, but it was totally disorganized, people were voting all over the place, and they were making people who were already registered re-register because they forgot the password to the computer they had to check people off who were registered but for some reason not on the polling books. Which meant all those people’s ballots are now “special ballots” and may not be counted unless a race is close. While that might not mean anything for the Presidential election, I’m upset that my ballot might not get counted for the ANC Commissioner I was rooting for. Also worried about how many people had to cast thier ballots this way.

    • My ballot was a “special ballot” because I changed my address at the same time I voted.

      In retrospect, maybe I should have voted under my old address and done the address-changing later — I hope that there aren’t any screwups that will prevent my vote for Council At-Large member from counting.

      Apparently I can check a week after the election to see if my ballot was counted… but if it wasn’t, then I have to initiate what sounds like a hassle-filled process to protest it.

      • How do you check? I wasn’t given any instructions on what to do. And I’m angry because I was already registered and not making any changes!

  • 45 minutes in Ward 3 at St. Columbus! Worth the wait!

  • squish

    Montgomery County, District 8. Voted at the Takoma Park Rec Center. Got in line at 6:45 am, and was done shortly after 8 am.

    So proud to vote for same-sex marriage and the DREAM Act!!

  • Just under 2 hours starting at about 7am at Dunbar High School. I voted at Garnett-Patterson in 2008 in the afternoon and it took about 20 min.

  • Got to Bancroft Elementary at 7:15 and was out of there around 8:45. The line seemed about as long as last time, but I think there was some disorder inside that made it take forever. That said, a big thank you to all the volunteers helping during this election – they get to deal with us occasionally cranky people all day and without pay. And they were up way before dawn to prep.

  • Went to EL Haynes in Petworth at 10:30 this morning and line was still all the way out the door and almost to the street! Never seen anything like that mid-morning over there. Will go back soon with things to read/do.

  • 20 min at Park View Rec Center around 8:45am. the A-G line seemed to be moving three times as fast as others so I may have just been lucky. My husband took about 35 min in a different line, same time.

  • About 20-25 minutes at Truesdell in Petworth, but we had a kid with us, so we got to move ahead in the line to get out of the cold. I think the regular voting line was about 45 minutes. Borrow your neighbor’s baby to vote!

    • We were also at Truesdale, albeit in the normal line. I think it was about an hour and fifteen minutes. Got there at 8:00, out at like 9:15. Happy to do my civic duty. People with kids and the elderly were certainly getting moved through there quickly. Were you by chance carrying the kid with the green hat with ears? Wife was fawning at that hat haha.

  • Got to St. Thomas in Dupont around 6:45 and there were about 20 people ahead of me. By the time the doors opened at 7, the line was halfway around the block. The workers were pretty efficient, so I was out of there by 7:15. I would have been out sooner but I got stuck in the A-C line behind a girl who hadn’t registered yet and needed a special ballot.

  • About an hour at the Latin American Community Center in Columbia Hts.

  • About 35 minutes at the Reeves Center, half of which was waiting to go through the metal detector. Not at all bad, and better than 2008, but could have used some better signage.

  • Waited 2.5 hours this morning at Van Ness Elementary in SE. I arrived around 7:30 and when I left at 10 the lines were even longer than before. Luckily my H-O line was the shortest by far, otherwise add another 20 minutes or so.

  • 1 hour 45 mins at Stuart Hobson. Arrived at a little bit before 8am. Worth the wait!

  • Took me two hours there this morning! They didn’t seem to have enough people on hand to direct the various lines–people were just getting into lines without knowing what they were for, accusing each other of cutting, etc.

    If your name starts with A-J, it shouldn’t take you long at all. For the rest of us: good luck. :)

  • A little more than 2 hours at EL Haynes. There was only one touchscreen machine and it wasn’t working for an hour or so. The voting machine was working when I left around 11am.

  • 40 minutes at Murch Elementary School when polls opened at 7.

    • You were smart getting there early. It took me an hour and a half beginning at 8:30 after dropping my kid off at school.

  • hour and a half at the Christ Episcopal Church Georgetown.. got there at 10 AM

  • 90 minutes at Mt. Rona on 13th/Monroe. Got on line at 8am, finished by 9:30am. They had one voting machine and about 8 places to do a paper ballot. Ridiclous!

    Voted in Silver Spring in ’08. Had about an hour wait, but they had way more voting machines (like 4) at the precienct.

  • Took two hours to vote at Garnet-Patterson this morning. In 2008, I voted in the ‘burbs of Silver Spring, took an hour. Overall, not too terrible of an experience, we’re all waiting together…

  • Just under two hours at Powell Elementary in Petworth this morning. Four years ago I went at the same time of day to my polling station in Mt. Pleasant, which took 30 minutes. Happy Election Day!

  • 2 hours 25 minutes at the Reeves Center. I made the mistake of getting in the electronic line because it was much shorter and I couldn’t figure out where the end of the paper ballot line was. I think that would have only saved me 20 minutes. It was much easier in 2008.

  • The Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church at 15 and M NW had some very slow lines and some very fast lines, unfortunately mine was the former, and it took me 1:45 to get through.

    • I voted there, too. I got in line around the block at 10 am. Took me 1.5 hours to get through the whole process. Some of the lines didn’t have poll workers (mine) for long stretches, so the other workers had to rotate. I’m originally from Ohio and never experienced anything nearly as chaotic when voting.

    • It was quite easy for me at 2:30pm. In and out in about 30 minutes. It looks like the electronic voting machine was out of order, however.

  • Looks like I’m the only one voting at MLK Library, so it should be a breeze. Seriously, I plan on swinging by after work, so I’m curious if anyone can provide an update on how things are there.

  • msmaryedith

    1 hour 25 minutes at Sherwood Rec Center at 8am. The line was around the block when I got there, but then moved us all inside and had us snaking around the gym in a line. The S-Z line was the only one without much of a wait.

  • Two and a half hour wait in Courthouse (Arlington). I waited 15 minutes in Glover Park in 2008.

    A co-worker waited 20 minutes this morning in McLean, where they had more than twice as many voting booths for a significantly smaller population. Makes me wonder.

  • About 25-30 minutes at the Trinity AME Zion Church in Columbia Heights. Got there around 11:30. They really need to open up the space to accomodate more people. They had the room cut in half and the multiple lines inside were definitely confusing people. The neighborhood has grown considerably and a setup that probably worked fine before isn’t enough anymore.

    I lived in Tenleytown in 2008 so can’t do a direct comparison.

  • My experience this morning at the DC Oyster Elementary School (Woodley Park) polling station:

    After waiting in line for an hour it became apparent that the ONE electronic voting machine in the completely chaotic polling station was broken. The election staff had absolutely no idea how to fix it, nor did they make an announcement or figure out a solution until a near riot broke out after another hour of waiting. After an angry mob of dozens of people shouted repeatedly at the supervisor, he finally agreed to slowly start distributing paper ballots to those in the electronic line rather than forcing them to go to the end of the paper line (2 hour wait on top of the two hours we already waited) as had been the original “solution”. People in line called the Washington Post, the Board of Elections and DC representatives to complain. The paper line was also completely disorganized as the staff had not set up a single path for organizing it or other registration lines. Nobody had any idea what was going on. A security guard came in and complained that things were getting out of control. What an embarrassing display of basic “democracy” in the world’s “leading” democracy’s capital.

    • jim_ed

      2 and a half hours at precinct 131 at the Van Ness School in SE. Got there a little before 10. I’m thinking early voting on a week day in 2016.

  • Most of these comments are making me happy with my decision to vote early last week.

  • 2 hours at John Eaton but it was totally worth it. Saw a blind nonagenarian use the electronic voting booth, talked to an 80 year old who has voted in every election since he was 18, and got my fill of homemade brownies and cupcakes in the process thanks to the stellar bake sale.

  • 15 minutes at Greenleaf Rec Center in SW. Got there a little after 9. Looked like the A-F lines were moving faster than the others. Last election I voted at a different precinct and I had similar wait times.

  • Almost two hours at Specialty Hospital in Ward 6. The lines for A-C and T-Z were empty, but the poor shmucks in the middle like me had to wait forever.

    I submitted a special ballot since I changed my address, but that didn’t speed things up.

  • 2 hours 45 mins at Bell Multicultural. No pencils to be found, and my name missing from roll despite it being their last pres election (I have not moved). Only positive is seeing all of the hood out.

    • PDMtP

      A little shorter for me – about 2 1/4 hours this morning – but still painfully slow. Agree the neighbors were the best part.

  • i just got back from Dunbar. took an hour. no line when i left though.

  • It took me 3 hours at Walker Jones EC for Ward 6. In 2008, it only took 20 minutes in Glover Park.

    Walker Jones was completely disorganized and there was only one electronic voting machine. There was also one member of the Poll staff openly allowing friends and “sweet-talkers” to cut the line for ballots…which was noticed by quite a few people around me. When we reported this to our Council member’s office, they said they couldn’t do anything since we didn’t have his name.

  • Lined up at 8:00 at Loughran Community Center and voted at 9:45. Could t have been more orgnized? yes. Was the staff that was there doing thier best? Yes.

  • Time to vote at Chavez this afternoon – less than five minutes! Went pretty smoothly, or at least as smoothly as it has for past elections.

  • About an hour at HD Cooke in AM — got there about 7:30. A little disorganized at the check-in desk, but things moved pretty quickly.

  • About an hour at HD Cooke in AM — got there about 7:30. A little disorganized at the check-in desk, but things moved pretty quickly after that. Many thanks to the organizer/pencil-hander-outer guy for making things move more quickly when possible.

  • About 45 minutes at 10 AM this morning in Woodley Park. Lady asked for my ID and I politely refused, telling her that I should be in her book. It was weird – I spelled my name for her (it’s very English, and not hard for English speakers -which she was), she wrote it down on a slip of paper and then found me in the book. Weird. Better than in the primary, where I didn’t show up on the rolls even though I was registered, the lady gave me the wrong party’s ballot and tried to convince me that I really was a Democrat.

    • That’s weird that she asked for ID — isn’t that supposed to be illegal?

      • Not letting someone to vote because they don’t have an ID would be illegal. She just asked to see it, perhaps to figure out how his/her name was spelled. Since she apparently accepted his/her refusal, it doesn’t seem she did anything illegal.

      • PDMtP

        You don’t have to have it to vote, but it makes life easier finding the name. The BOEE recommends bringing your voter card to speed up check-in. As long as they don’t tell you you can’t vote without one, nothing wrong with asking for something with your name on it rather than having everyone spell out their names.

    • You do know that poll workers are volunteers – and about 90% elderly/somewhat befuddled?

  • Cesar Chavez in Columbia Heights this morning– one man was yelling because they gave him a ballot that was already filled out! Another guy was arguing with the “ballot captain” because he was given the wrong ballet and they couldn’t figure out how to fix it.

  • PDMtP

    My wife just got back from voting – lines at Bell are very short now. By the way, as others have mentioned, take the paper ballot. It’s much faster.

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