November 4 marks the day of days in modern American politics, a historic showdown for between Barack Obama and John McCain for the presidency. Though nearly every election is touted as the most important of its time, the tremendous levels of interest in and consequences of this contest confirms its significance.
The Daily Page will be following the flurry of activity that is Election Day in Madison and greater Dane County, and we are interested in your input. What number voter are you at your polling place? How many people are there when you are? How long is the wait? What's the chatter like? Is there a deputy sheriff and/or an observer from the state attorney general's office? Any "irregularities"? There are several ways you can share your experiences:
- Twitter your vote. You'll be able to post info to the front page of TDP from your phone via Twitter. In order to use this tool, just follow a few simple steps. Go to twitter.com and register for an account. Make sure that it is set up to work with your mobile device (cell phone, etc.). Then while voting or going about your business on Election Day, text any news or observations to Twitter with #tdp at the beginning of your message. That will allow us to pull it into a feed that will be published on these pages. You can also set up your device to run the feed for all #tdp posts so you can follow along when you're not near a computer. Posting to Twitter is as easy as sending a text message on your phone and posts are limited to 140 characters.
- Share your Election Day stories on Forum. Share your predictions for the election, your polling place experiences, your hopes and fears about exit polling, and anything else that comes to mind.
- If you are shooting photos of your Election Day experiences, consider sharing your snaps with the Isthmus Flickr Group for a special photo gallery capturing the spirit of the ballot in and around Madison.
- Finally, send an email about Election Day. This can include your ballot experience, links to your blogging about voting, links to photos or videos, or anything else that you'd like to share with Madison.
Live-blogging of Election Day 2008 follows.
The polls are now closed in Wisconsin. If you're interested in reading more about the election results and the festivities in Madison, click over to our Election Night live-blogging from the High Noon Saloon.
Wisconsin polling places close in ten minutes, with results hopefully to follow shortly thereafter.
The Madison City Clerk's office was originally supposed to have reported afternoon voting numbers at 5 p.m., but it has not yet released this information. What could be the cause of this delay? It's likely due to the time required to count absentee ballots, says Dane County Clerk Bob Ohlsen, rather than anything having to do with a last minute crush of voters. "We've not heard about any long lines or anything," he says. "Normally they're very good about calling the numbers in, but they're just overwhelmed with the turnout now."
Only a half-hour remains before the polls close in Madison and around Wisconsin. There's still time for those who haven't voted yet, as anybody in line by 8 p.m. will be permitted to cast a ballot.
Cable networks are variously projecting winners in a new handful of states. Oklahoma and Tennessee have been called for McCain, while Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C. have been called for Obama. Given that Pennsylvania has been the McCain campaign's primary target for a pickup, these projections look very good for Obama.
There is only two hours remaining to vote this Election Day, as polls closing in Wisconsin at 8 p.m. Last call!
Cable networks are now projecting that McCain will win South Carolina, another expected result.
Bridget Maniaci has published a new photo gallery showing Election night fun to be found around Madison. She also shares an update about the post-workday voting scene:
After I got done with work at 5 p.m. I headed down to Dayton Street to check out the Doyle Building and Fire Station #1. Having worked in the clerk's office several years ago during the Fair Wisconsin vote, I knew these wards could get very nutsy, but when I got to the polls, there was no line and everything was quiet. There was what looked like a poll watcher loitering outside of Fire Station #1. I asked him how many people had voted so far, and he said "about 2,300." I have a feeling that might be a record for that ward, especially since so many new high rises have gone up since the last election, and the wards haven't been redrawn since 2000 (obviously something that will need to be addressed after the 2010 census).The total number of votes cast at Fire Station #1, the polling place for Ward 42, was 2,422 in 2004. Given the figures cited by Maniaci, it certainly looks like there will be a new record there after tonight, not to mention in plenty of other wards around Madison.
Since none of the polls were hopping, I thought I'd check out Ben & Jerry's free ice cream, and apparently that's where all the students are right now. There was a line down to Noodles & Company. I got some shots of the crowd (with difficulty since I'm not shooting on my professional equipment), and then called my friend to figure out where we all were going to meet for dinner. Apparently Pasqual's at Hil;dale is having some sort of dinner special. I suggested Hawk's, since I heard they were giving out one free beer for one Obama vote, and since I was back in my car driving from the fire station, I decided to stop by and check it out see if there was a deadline on the free beer, but it's going all night, so that's where I'm off to now.
Hawk's was bustling, but not jam-packed, which was a little surprising, considering the beer giveaway. Hopefully by the time I bike there a bunch of folks won't have already seen this and filled the place -- plus, I dunno how well beer and ice cream mix for the students!
"I will be voting today." That's the declaration made by a young African American voter today in Fitchburg, as quoted by Michael Leon. He reports:
Black folks who were newly registering at the polls had a determined look in their eyes; I mean it. And there was a steady stream of black families coming from the newly-registered room.
I lived in the ward for some eight years and I know the high and low-turnout areas. Many voting today were from low turn-out areas.
Inspiring. These are just the people that J.B. Van Hollen and the Republicans want to disenfranchise. And they would not be stopped today.
An afternoon round of Election Day live-blogging has just been launched by Dane101.
The Daily Cardinal reports on a visit by Representative Tammy Baldwin to Gordon Commons on the UW campus, where she emphasized the role of youthful voters in this election.
Politico has projected that Kentucky will go for McCain and Vermont for Obama. Both states were considered safe for the respective candidates. The Democratic Party, meanwhile, is already picking up seats in both the House and Senate, including an easy victory for the latter by Mark Warner of Virginia.
There are two hours remaining in Election Day, with polls closing in Wisconsin at 8 p.m. If you haven't done so already, get out and vote!
The Huffington Post has series of exit polls leaked by a Democratic source that finds Obama ahead in nearly every swing state, including by a whopping 16 points in Wisconsin. These kinds of exit polls proved notoriously false in 2004, though, so they shouldn't be taken all that seriously, particularly with the actual figures already rolling in.
The Daily Cardinal has conducted something of an exit poll of voters at three polling places: Madison Fire Station 1, Memorial Union, and Gordon Commons. Their results find Obama at 80%, McCain at 18%, and Nader at 2%. The results in these wards actually found Kerry receiving comparable if not higher totals in 2004.
The first numbers from Indiana and New Hamphire, where the polls closed at 5 p.m. Central Standard Time, are starting to come it, and it looks good for Obama. Though only a minuscule percentage of the vote total is in, the Democratic candidate has a big early lead in the Granite State and is keeping things close so far in Hoosiers Country.
The first exit polls are out, reports Politico, and the economy is high atop the list of issues that motivated voters to cast ballots today. This bodes well for Obama's chances as polls close through the night.
Madison alder Robbie Webber shares her Election Day experiences while volunteering at the First Congregational Church at Breese Terrace and Old University. She writes:
I worked at the polls noon-4:30 p.m. There was almost no line until 2:10 p.m. Some large class must have let out, because all of a sudden the line snaked down the hall. The wait was still only about 20-30 minutes, and only for people with last names starting with A-K. All the people in the first third of the alphabet voted at the same time? Lines were gone by 3:30 p.m.
I'm going back in a little while to help enter absentee ballots, but we had almost caught up by 4:30 p.m. However, I think there is another delivery of ballots due from the Clerk's office."
Eau Claire resident Larry Heagle shares an email sent to him by Madison attorney and former WEAC president Stan Johnson about casting a ballot today.
"I have a confession to make," begins Johnson. "I did not vote for Barack Obama today. I've openly supported Obama since March. But I didn't vote for him today." Who did he vote for? Read the inspiring letter and find out.
There are three hours remaining in Election Day, with polls closing around Wisconsin at 8 p.m. A second rush of voters is expected through the evening, but everybody in line by closing time will be able to cast their ballot. Turnout continues to skyrocket in Madison and around the state, and it may be a long night for clerk's offices processing ballots.
The Daily Cardinal has an update on the fallacious text message circulating on the UW campus this afternoon looking to deceive Obama supporters into not voting today. Persons receiving the message are urged to ignore it.
Wisconsin Radio News reporter Bob Hague shares a detailed account of his Election Day experiences, describing his experiences of trying to take photos at his neighborhood polling place, reporting on Jim Doyle at Midvale Elementary School, and his quest for campaign yard signs.
Michael Leon describes a "perfect Obama fieldwork operation in Wisconsin" in his report about working as an election inspector at a busy Fitchburg polling place earlier today. "The register-at-the-poll crowd was huge in the morning, and was steady when I just left now," he notes. "Obama people working as poll watchers were numerous; I counted three. No McCain observers, no Wisconsin DoJ observers (and I was looking for the little bastards to have a word with the folks). Any Obama supporter IDed who has not voted will get a knock or call."
The Daily Cardinal reports on a text message being forwarded among UW students this afternoon. It reads: "Due to the long lines expected today, all obama voters are asked to vote on wednesday. Please forward to everyone."
Voters are being asked to and should obviously ignore this inaccurate statement, a local example of the kinds of voter misinformation campaigns that are being reported around the nation today.
Dane County Clerk Bob Ohlsen just spoke with Jason Joyce about how the election is going so far today. "Other than a ballot snafu this morning with ballots for Jefferson and Jefferson Middle School, there haven't been any problems," notes Ohlsen. "People are concerned about the large number of voters and whether we'll have enough ballots, but that happens in every big election. Things have been pretty quiet today, which is good."
The Daily Cardinal reports on the festive scene on Library Mall, which includes Election Day efforts by the Obama campaign, WISPIRG, and supporters of the Ralph Nader candidacy.
Before the polling place at Middleton High School was forced to move due to a bomb threat, voting was proceeding smoothly there. "At 8 a.m. there were lines but we navigated through in five minutes," notes Rusty Allen. "There were poll watchers present but all seemed in good spirits. The most tension seemed to be caused by me wearing my Vikings hat."
Persons living in Middleton aldermanic districts 5-8 are now required to vote at the new fire station on University, which will remain open until the regular poll closing time of 8 p.m. a Daily Kos diarist has published a report on witnessing the reponse to the bomb threat.
Dane County has seen its first major voting problem of the day, as a bomb bomb threat at Middleton High School not only resulted in the evacuation of students there, but also disrupted voting too, as it's a polling place for wards 5-8 in the suburb west of Madison.
City authorities responded, though, and the polling place was moved to the new Middleton fire station located at 7600 University Avenue.
As noted by WisPolitics, Election Day complaints are being tabulated by CNN via its Voter Hotline. Out of the more than 35,000 placed so far nationwide, less than 300 have been made from Wisconsin About 12% of these (some 34 calls) have been made from Dane County. The issues most often cited are problems with absentee ballots, followed by concerns about vote integrity and poll access, counting each for about one-fifth of the complaints made in the state.
Jason Joyce reports on the Election Day scene downtown on the far side of the UW campus: "A circuit around the Capitol Square in the early afternoon yielded very little in the way of election day excitement, with the exception of some pre-schoolers sporting VOTE! signs. The bars were empty, as were many of the lunch spots favored by legislative staffs."
Danny Spirn, a.k.a. "The Critical Badger," is back with his live-blogging of Election Day on the UW campus. Turnout has already long blown past 2006 general election figures, he notes, and with just over four hours remaining before the polls close, it's all but certain to exceed 2004 numbers too.
3:50 p.m. The Daily Cardinal reports on voting issues encountered at Ward 42 polling place Madison Fire Station 1, located on East Johnson Street. The issue has to do with poll lists, and the problems encountered by voters who say they are already registered.
Ben Manski is having an extremely busy Election Day. As reported by Bill Lueders in last week's Isthmus, the Madison-based lawyer and Liberty Tree Foundation director is coordinating the No More Stolen Elections! to track and push back against actions, organized or otherwise, that inhibit the right of Americans to cast their votes.
"It doesn't look very good for the integrity of our elections," he says. "We're not primarily an election monitoring organization, but the reports we are hearing today are very troubling. There are tens of thousands of reports coming in that are a result of malicious as opposed to ignorant behavior. These problems include voter misinformation campaigns, the manufacture of ballot shortages, relocation of polling places, such as one moved six miles away from a student district at a Virginia college campus, a pattern that is clearly a visible effort to suppress the vote."
Manski also cites problems that look to be more administrative in nature, such as people not receiving their absentee ballots, but something that still has the end result of denying citizens their right to vote. "Clearly election administrators are not prepared, and that's astonishing considering what the country has been through over the last eight years," he says.
As for the more obvious signs of voter suppression, Manski says it's a problem no matter what happens at the end of the night. "Whether or not this coordinated attempt will affect the outcome of the election is not clear," he notes, "but it is that the rights of millions are being violated in this election."
No More Stolen Elections! is coordinating dozens of voter assemblies around the nation on Wednesday, including on in Madison. Supporters are urged to meet at the Wisconsin Capitol Rotunda at 5 p.m. on November 5 to rally for voter rights; more information on the event is available here.
Wisconsin Radio Network reports on the Election Day experience of Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle, who cast his ballot this morning in Madison at Midvale Elementary School. In addition to discussing this cycle's state legislative races with the governor, and the possibility that the Democrats will retake the Assembly, the network also queried him about any potential interest in serving in an Obama administration.
UW Communications has published a trio of photos showing Election Day scenes at a pair of campus polling places: Tripp Commmons at Memorial Union and 306 North Brooks Street.
Sara Ziemendorf cast her ballot in Verona's new city hall this afternoon. In a report about her Election Day experiences, she describes meeting a UW professor from Ireland who is participating in his first election after becoming a United States citizen, comments on a school bake sale, and observes an election observer. "I got my ballot and connected the arrows as I thought needed being done," she concludes. "The vote was eaten up by the machine and the beep was my reward. My duty was done, and I felt pride in being able to do it."
"So now you can abandon all efforts to influence me, because I've voted," declares University of Wisconsin Law School professor and avowed political moderate Ann Althouse. "You may wonder, was everyone voting at the First Congregational Church of Madison voting for Barack Obama. The answer is no. I saw a young man wearing a McCain/Palin button. He was the only person I saw wearing a button. I heard absolutely no discussion of the election inside the church. Not so much as a single voicing of the 3 syllables Obama."
There haven't been any major voting irregularities around Madison today, though there have been a few snafus with ballot machines at various polling places, notable Jefferson Middle School and Olbrich Gardens. For more thoughts on these issues, there is a discussion on TDPF.
Madison alder Brenda Konkel shares her Election Day experiences this afternoon as voter number 1328 in Ward 39 in the Tenney-Lapham neighborhood. She writes:
I pulled into the parking lot at 1:22 p.m., got out of the car and walked through a group of people milling about, walked in, and gave them my name (no waiting). They gave me my ticket, I took it to the table, talked to several neighbors, let someone go in front of me while I was talking, marked my ballot, put it in the machine, and walked out. Someone handed me a sticker and an election observer I know thanked me for voting and I got back in my car and drove away by 1:29 p.m. There were probably about a dozen people registering to vote and about 10 people lined up at the booths voting... and there was an ample amount of poll workers who were well organized.
However, this morning, around 7:30 a.m.... the lines were long... and it took Rob an hour to vote (he went there at 7:05 a.m.) but when he drove to work the lines were gone.
I'm stuck working today. I worked at the Housing Help Desk from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and now I'm doing mediation postcards and I'll be working until 6:00 p.m. I would have rather been a poll watcher in Rock County today, but I have an evil boss who wouldn't let me take the day off. :)
Seriously, clients come first! Housing problems don't stop for election day. In fact, several were evicted today or are homeless and wondering where they will sleep tonight. Let's hope all this voting and optimism will amount to some real changes in our community!
The Daily Cardinal reports that Tammy Baldwin was busy helping to GOTV among UW students by making the rounds at several sorority houses on Langdon Street. The entire campus area continues to buzz, with Obama volunteers making their presence felt at every turn, all centered on a near-festival atmosphere on Library Mall.
What about the vote totals in Dane County? In 2004, John Kerry racked up 181,052 votes compared to 90,369 for George Bush, which comes out to almost exactly a two-thirds margin. Will Barack Obama break 70%? 75%? Or even higher? Massive turnout in Wisconsin's Democratic strongholds will matter as much as anything in this race.
Plenty of eyes are going to be turned to Indiana and Virginia this evening to see if the vote in either of these states will point towards the outcome of the overall election. Politico goes a step further, though, identifying 25 key counties to watch as barometers for the race. #23 on that list is Waukesha County, the famously Republican stronghold in the heart of the Milwaukee suburbs. Charles Mathesian writes:
McCain needs to roll up big margins here in Wisconsin's third-largest county, just west of Milwaukee, to have any shot at winning the state. Anything less than two-thirds of the vote means McCain would have a very tough time overcoming the big Democratic margins coming out of Milwaukee and Madison's Dane County.
Want a drink with your ballot? Another Daily Kos diarist describes their Election Day experience at a polling place sited in a Madison municipal golf course. "Today I enjoyed the pleasure of both voting and quaffing a draft of Capital's Wisconsin Amber at my polling station," notes the voter. That sounds about right.
"Honestly, it feels more like a party than election day," says Dustin Weis about the atmosphere around Madison today. He reports:
Here in Madison, nobody's somber, nobody's out to just do their civic duty. Everybody's out with a purpose, and everybody feels good. On my way to work, there was a man on ten-foot stilts dancing at the corner of East Wash and Paterson holding a sign for Obama. Outside of Fitchburg city hall, there was an accordian and tuba duet set up playing oom-pa-pa music. Every other block on Fish Hatchery road are people waving signs and balloons.
Afternoon is passing rapidly, and soon it will be time to celebrate, or commiserate, pending the outcome of today's votes. There is no shortage of Election Night parties being held around Madison tonight, including a special edition of Gomeroke with The Daily Page at the High Noon Saloon. Look here for more info about this and other festivities planned for the evening.
Mayoral spokesperson Rachel Strauch-Nelson has released official turnout numbers in Madison for the first several hours of Election Day. She explains:
The polls and the clerk's office are obviously buzzing today. As of our first roundup at 11 a.m., we had 42,236 voters. This isn't a foolproof number, however -- if anything, it will rise when as we get more complete counts.
As a reminder, our absentee ballot total as of last night was 32,012.
Election Day is now officially half over! Six-and-a-half hours have passed since the polls opened at 7 a.m., and there are another six-and-a-half hours until they close at 8 p.m., though anybody in line by that time will still be able to vote.
Gregory Humphrey comments that no lines were to be found at the Wil-Mar Center around 10 a.m., which was when Marquette neighborhood resident Tammy Baldwin was casting her ballot. "We wished her well, and commented how beautiful her flowers and terracing work looked at her home," he notes. "She was radiant today, and looked every part of what a wining Democrat should resemble. I think all of us will have a smile as wonderful as hers later this evening."
Finding no lines, Humphrey subsequently cast his ballot, and was voter number 751. "Be mindful that the actual vote number does not include the absentee ballots that had not been run through the machine yet," he explains. "And it was only mid-morning. A poll official predicted at least a 75% turnout in the ward." Where were the lines then? Why at Starbucks of course!
Erik Weiss shares his Election Day story and a couple of photos, one featuring an Obama campaign tent on the UW Library Mall, and other showing the yard of an overzealous McCain supporter in the Vilas neighborhood. Voting early this morning at St. James Grade School, a Catholic school, he notes that one intense discussion prompted by the polling location, and its sale of cookies.
Looking for more 2008 election reporting focused on the University of Wisconsin-Madison. An intermediate reporting class taught by Pat Hastings is getting hands-on experience by publishing an online package titled Election 08: Educate. Motivate. Vote.
Assembled by the professor and 13 students, this project covers the campaign from a campus perspective, and includes profiles of students involved in politics, the role and effect of campaign ads, the role of the economy in determining the election, and much more.
""We have the opportunity to cover a presidential election, so the students are analyzing the many stories in this campaign and telling them in different ways," says Hastings in a press release released by the university. "It gives them a chance to look at the issues in depth and challenges them with a deadline-based lesson in news coverage."
A Daily Kos diarist shares a story casting a ballot in Stoughton shortly after 8 a.m. this morning. The voter also offers an "interesting note" having to do with technology: "On my way in to the polling place there was a person telling everyone to turn off their cell phones." Why was this? Apparently because cell phones can take photos, and the poll worker wanted to avoid voter intimidation.
"I am really looking forward to the day when I can come home and not have Obama leaflets waiting for me to carry them to the recycle can," declares Cathy Lybarger, a merchant on East Johnson Street. "In the time that it took me to vote for Obama, which was about 5 minutes, this flyer appeared on the door. Save a tree, you guys. Skip the houses in downtown Madison that are 50 ft. from a polling place. We don't need convincing -- we're all voting for Obama, already."
An afternoon round of Election Day live-blogging has just been launched by Dane101.
Kathy Bailey shares her Election Day experiences: "I anticipated being in line somewhere around 6:30 a.m. with my husband this morning, but alas spent the night in St. Louis last night due to some travel complications. So I breezed into my polling place at Olbrich at 10:43 a.m. fresh from my plane, and was out of there by 10:48 a.m. There were about five people in line waiting to get their ballots in front of me and I saw about ten others vote while I waited. I was voter number 920.
Ellen Meany shares her Election Day experiences at the Town of Dunkirk Town Hall, established in 1846. "At 10 a.m. the parking lot was crowded, but accessible. Lots of people were inside, but only a couple of people waiting in line. Two election observers in pinstripe suits with flag lapel pins read newspapers in the gallery -- that would be a bunch of folding chairs set up near the registration table. The suits stood out, since attire in the town runs from farmer-on-a-break to biz-casual. We were voters numbers 392, 393 and 394. That's kinda high for this early in the day.
On my way into Madison, I drove past the Pleasant Springs Town Hall, about 10 miles north of Dunkirk's on County Road N. At least 50 people were in line and the parking lot was packed to overflowing. What a beautiful day for an election."
Steve Borgwardt shares his Election Day story: "Surprisingly, voting took nearly four hours at my usual voting location. Procedures seemed to change this year because of the 70-degree weather. I must have gotten in the wrong line. Two hours later I made the turn at 8 over par. The clubhouse line still seemed daunting. Two hours later, it took me two minutes to cast my vote. Democracy, freedom and better chipping on the back nine... you have to love America."
There's been quite an interesting discussion over the last few days among members of the Madison, Wisconsin Flickr Group, focusing on the proprieties and legalities of shooting photos at the polls.
When I visited by regular polling place at the downtown MATC this morning, I was asked upon entering if I was going to vote, and replied in the negative, saying I was reporting and there to shoot photos. That was no problem, said the poll worker, so I went ahead and took a few shots amongst the long lines wrapping through the hallways, one of which is visible at top. I wasn't the only media present, as Frederica Freyberg with Wisconsin Public Television was there with a camera crew, which was getting close-up footage of the line as it approached the poll workers' tables.
Other photographers weren't able to shoot photos this morning, however. Chris Norris, a prolific local photographer who had his work displayed in the PhotoMidwest exhibition this fall, was prohibited from shooting pictures at his polling place this morning. He shared his experience in the ongoing Flickr discussion:
As soon as I walked in I was told that I couldn't take pictures. I kept my camera out but didn't shoot. Then I was told again. The third person I asked why. He said that only accredited media could shoot in the polling place. I asked why. He said that I'd have to get permission from every person to shoot them. I said, "But the media wouldn't ask permission." He replied that the media wouldn't show people's faces. I said that they probably would and told him that I understood I was not to take pictures. I did leave my camera out. Before I left the woman in charge came by to make sure again that I was not taking pictures. She made it abundantly clear that she was in charge of that place and that she wouldn't take any sass from anyone.
I asked the one person who had conversed with me like a human, Mr David Cobb, where I could find the rules and such regarding this mandate, since I actually did look for them beforehand. He gave me the number for the Government Accountability Board. It is (608) 266-8005.
It's clear that state election practice and regulations are not only behind the times in this age of ubiquitous photography published online, but its rules are also being applied inconsistently.
Teresa Doyle describes voting on the near east side this morning, commenting on the pleasure of seeing a familiar face among the poll workers who volunteers regularly for elections in Madison.
Kevyn Radcliffe shares her polling place experience: "I went to vote at 8:00 a.m. at Sherman Middle School. There was no line! I was shocked. I walked in and voted in less than 5 minutes. The poll workers said that they had lines out the door when they opened at 7:00 a.m. There were poll watchers there from both major parties and an independent group. Everyone was relaxed and in a great mood.
I felt proud to cast my vote for Obama, who will hopefully make history by becoming the first African Aamerican president, for Tammy Baldwin, an open lesbian, and for Marc Pocan, an openly gay man. Thanks to the Sherman Girls Group for the yummy coffee cake for voters and to the poll workers and observers.
"Haven't had your fill of election day prattling from all corners of the blogosphere?" asks Emily Mills. Of course not!
She describes her experiences as voter number 280 around 8 a.m. this morning at Olbrich Gardens:
When I rolled up at 6:55, there was already a long line snaking down across the parking lot. Everyone seemed upbeat, though, and once the doors opened the line moved at a relatively good pace. Unfortunately, at around 7:20 word came that the one and only tabulation machine on the premises had jammed. They were instead bundling all of the ballots into a clear, sealed and signed plastic bag until such time as "someone from the city" came out to fix the machine. We were assured that, once that happened, all of our ballots would be fed into the counting machine for us, so I can only hope and assume that that happened.
Mills will be blogging here this evening from The Daily Page Election Night Party with Gomeroke at the High Noon Saloon, which gets started at 8 p.m. Be there!
Prolific University of Wisconsin-Madison blogger Danny Spirn is live-blogging Election Day in Madison, focusing on the kerfuffles that erupted overnight on the usual campus campaign shenanigans, as well as the long lines to be found when the polls opened this morning.
Madison music promoter Kyle Pfister describes his Election Day experience at the Wil-Mar Center this morning. Getting in line at 7:15 a.m., he makes it to the ballot box about an hour later. "Registered voter M-Z?" he notes. "Last name, address. 8:15. A small piece of paper with the number 307. A blue folder with the coveted white questions peaking out. A few steps to a flimsy plastic booth. A pen, a line. A change."
Rachel Tatge shares her Election Day story: "My voting experience was fairly painless. I voted at O'Keefe Middle School. My roommate and I got there at 6:45 a.m. I had to register, so I got in a different line than her. It took about 15 minutes before I could register, and it turns out that I didn't bring the correct kind of mail. But, the voting official was very nice, and he let me find my roommate waiting in line to act as a witness. I was able to circumvent all the other lines and immediately vote. There were no voting problems, and I was out of there prior to my roommate.
What is it like to vote in Madison if you are blind? One Madisonian who blogs about working with a seeing-eye dog (named "Elwood") shares his Election Day experience of voting at an apartment building this morning:
Today the elevator was working. It's brailled but of course I had to figure out where I was going. I decided 1. There were people outside of the room. It turns out the poll people do not officially recognize whoever these people were as being allowed to be within range of a polling place. Nevertheless, they were helpful in directing me. A man then took me to the first table and yes, indeed, I am registered. He thought I needed to register. I brought my utility bills just in case. I did check on the Wisconsin web site and saw my voter registration information and a sample ballot. I then went to another table, got my ballot and then went to a place to mark it. No curtained area. Just a place to stand. The man marked my ballot for me. Then we went and put it into the optical scanner. That was a little tricky, getting it straight. A corner got bent but I've fed enough dollars into vending machines to smooth that out. Then the form grabbed, like the shredder, and the computer sound indicated it was tabulated. Back to the elevator and figuring out that I had to push 2 to get back to the lobby. Then all the people and finally outside.Ultimately, it wasn't really any fuss for this voter.
The Daily Cardinal shares a few "early student reactions" to Election Day, with a focus on the waits at polling places and voters' confidence that their candidate would emerge victorious.
Bridget Maniaci shares her voting experience on Election Day, as well as a large photo gallery featuring shots of the James Madison Park polling place images of the Obama campaign posters and stickers plastered everywhere downtown.
I was voter 295 this morning at 8:15 a.m. at Gates of Heaven. Also, an Obama volunteer just rang my doorbell and gave me an "I Voted" sticker. I asked him if they were keeping track of who had already voted, and he said not exactly, they were keeping track by how many stickers they were handing out. He gave me an extra sticker to put next to my buzzer, so that no one else would ring my doorbell today.
The pictures show a long line of about 100 people at Gates of Heaven, but it only took about a half hour to vote, and when I came out, the line outside was down to about 20 people. I saw at least eight people I knew, some going back to high school. I missed the saxophonist.
Last night I saw kids (not knowing it's against city ordinances) going nuts on stickering light poles and bus stops. Five minutes later, close to BW3s, I saw two Madison police officers pulling political (mostly Obama) stickers off of light poles.
I swung by the Obama State Street office after that, let the staffers I know about the poles and police, took some nice candids, and then went home.
The boyfriend and I woke up early (7 a.m.) so we could both go vote before work. Some of the friends I ran into had thought about calling me this morning so we could all go to the polls together.
Bill Lueders writes a detailed report about his Election Day experiences at Mendota Elementary School this morning, discussing the concept of voting as sacrifice.
"In my voting ward in Madison, there are few decisions to make," begins Ryan McNamara in his report on his Election Day experience. Namely, voters must sort themselves into lines based on the first letter of their last name, a factor that might significantly affect one's waiting time. "To the substance of the ballot, there are only four decisions," he continued. "All but two politicians are running unopposed for their office. I choose the president I want and my house representative, then it's off to voting on two referenda, one regarding health care, the other the school district's budget."
The elections today are being followed by people all over the planet. A French-Canadian freelance illustrator for Isthmus just sent this message: "It is special for you today in the U.S.! All the world is watching! I wish you the best!"
Linda Falkenstein shares her voting experience: "By the time I voted at Mendota School at 9:10 a.m. the line ahead of me for Ward 22 was about 20 people. The other ward, 23, had fewer people. The machine jammed while I was waiting in line. The poll workers were putting ballots into a red zippered bag and calling on a cell phone to see about getting the machine fixed. It was announced that you could stay and wait until the machine was fixed and insert your ballot, or put your ballot into the red bag. I chose the red bag. The crowd was mixed -- black, white, old, middle aged, young -- and upbeat.
Here's another Election Day story blogged by a Madison voter. "I was surprised how few people I knew," he notes. "The line was around 30 people in front of me outside and as I found out later around 100 inside. It took around a half hour. The middle school kids had a bake sale and were peddling stuff to folks in line."
"I have a bone to pick with Madison," declares a Madison voter named Emily. "They never give out "I voted" stickers after you vote. I love those stickers! And how will people know I voted? Now I will undoubtedly keep being harassed by people with clipboards on the street." She cast her ballot shortly before 8 a.m. this morning at the Madison Ice Arena on the southwest side, and reports that things were running smoothly.
"I had forgot that the coat I was wearing had an Obama sticker on it," she notes about the attention being paid to electioneering rules. "As I was walking to the building, a lady leaving said to me, 'You better take off that sticker! One girl got all the way to the front and they made her go to the back of the line because she had an Obama button.' So I flipped my collar inside out. All was good. You'd think they'd have someone monitoring that as people get in line so that wouldn't happen. Oh well."
Kyle Nabilcy reports his voting experience: "We arrived at Wil-Mar few minutes after the polls opened. The line was out the door, onto Brearly (it's wider than the sidewalk, naturally), and around the corner onto Spaight. Lots of coffee mugs, a few iPods, but the largest demographic was people voting with friends/family. There was a mom with a little boy and a big plastic wagon in front of us. He had toast and juice, and was pretty happy. I was jealous.
The operation inside Wil-Mar was effective and friendly, and we were back on the sidewalk within an hour. I even had time to correct a misspelling of my last name on the rolls."
Megan Larson reports her voting experience: "I arrived at East High School at 7:40 a.m. to a line stretched up and down the hallway leading to the gymnasium. In line, the range of ages varied but many were couples in line with small children.
Once inside the gymnasium, while waiting to receive my ballot, I witnessed a gentleman whose ballot was rejected from the machine. He was required to rip up the ballot and return to the voting booth to try it again. I believe I overheard a polling worker say that he would have one more chance to vote if the second ballot was rejected. The entire process was smooth for me and I was finished voting by 8:20 a.m."
The line at the MATC downtown campus polling place remains long, reports The Daily Cardinal. "Bring something to read, because even though the actual act of voting goes by fast, the two lines are moving very slow," notes Caissa Casarez about the hour-long wait. "The longer waiting time may be because of the proposed steady stream of students from both the UW and MATC and adults coming in to vote."
Jeff Gagne reports his voting experience: "The line at Wil-Mar moved really fast once it got going and then I got bumped up because my last name was A-L. A half-hour wait at 7:40 a.m., with a line that stretched about a half block around the corner. By the time I had voted, the line was much shorter, right up to the door of Wil-Mar (less than a 10 minute wait I'd guess). I went to the City-County Building on Sunday and Monday to try for early voting. Both times the place was packed with several hundred grumpy people in line. I think I made the right decision. Plus there's something about voting on election day, everyone was excited!"
WisPolitics notes that there have been a few issues at the polls this morning, but that voting is by and large running smoothly. One minor issue was reported at Jefferson Middle School on the west side, though.
"[Wisconsin Government Accountability Board executive director Kevin]Kennedy said his polling place on Madison's west side had a malfunctioning optical scanner, and there was a report of problems with another scanner at a separate Madison polling place," notes Greg Bump. "But poll workers were attempting to troubleshoot. He said when a scanner goes down, the ballots are placed in an auxilliary box in the machine and are scanned in later by poll workers as time allows."
Faith Kaliszewski provide more information on the technical trouble at the Olbrich Gardens polling place. She explains: "I got there at about 7 a.m., and after about 15 minutes of waiting, a voter comes over to my part of the line and stated the machine that scans the ballots is broken. About another 15 minutes later, a poll worker starts yelling out that the machine is broken and that our ballets will be places in a clear plastic bag in a box. I would say about 20 voters left the line after the announcement because they wanted to wait to vote until the machine was fixed.
Once we (the voters) got into the atrium where we could vote, you could see the clear plastic bags with the ballots. Poll workers were moving them when the box would get filled. There were about four poll observers in the room. Every time the bags would get filled, a poll worker would have everyone stop everything so people could look that the bag was being sealed and a new one was being replaced. The bags were being marked with a large black marker."
Here's an Election Day story shared by a Madisonian who voted at the Gates of Heaven this morning. She writes:
My polling location was a tiny synagogue originally built in 1863, and the long line stretched out along the sidewalk next to James Madison Park. Thus, our view included sunlight on the water and a random creepy dude walking in off the shoreline with a fishing pole.She goes on to detail how she inadvertently cut in line, discusses the youth of the voters at the polling place, and notes that everything went smoothly.
A man came and played the saxophone, selecting patriotic tunes. He was pretty terrible, but we all appreciated his efforts, and clapped every time he finished a song.
I would say that about 85% of my line was easily age 25 or younger. Some people were talking about missing Biophysics class, or being late for work. Nobody seemed to mind.
Many cars that drove by honked and gave us thumbs-up.
"I did not receive an 'I voted!' sticker, but I am still going to get my free Starbucks coffee, and free ice cream scoop from Ben & Jerry's," she concludes. "Yay, democracy. I'm glad I waited until Election Day to vote. I don't think it would have felt the same otherwise. Today promises to be a slow day at work!
Bill Lueders reports that he was voter number 279 at Mendota Elementary School on the north side at 8 a.m. He will be filing a story on his polling place experience shortly.
Colin Murray shares his Election Day experience. He reports: "I arrived at the Heritage Congregational Church in Maple Grove, on the west side of Madison, at about 7:20 a.m. There were about 50 people in line ahead of me, and everyone seem to be in good spirits while waiting in line. There were four people who were identified as "Election Observers" around the polling area. There was no other security at the Church.
I was vote number 131. The entire process took about 15 minutes. Everything seem to be running very smoothly at this location. I highly recommend taking advantage of the bake sale, when you leave."
Chad Hopper reports that he was voter number 348 at the Fitchburg Community Center/City Hall this morning. In line at 7:21 a.m., he cast his ballot at 8:02 a.m., by which point there was no longer any wait for voters. He reports: "My voter number was handed to me by a polling place volunteer wearing American Flag Zubaz and white velcro shoes.
All polling place workers were extremely friendly and helpful, ranging in age from college students wearing Moccasin slippers to older adults with before mentioned velcro shoes. Voters waiting in line were offered the left-over doughnuts for the poll-workers.
There was a large diversity of voters -- young and old, showered and dressed to unshowered and just-out-of-bed, Smart Car drivers to SUV gas-guzzling gunboat drivers, racially diverse, happy to be there but upset about the line.
A-I was far and away the most popular first initial of the last name for voters this morning, while J-Qs and R-Zs were few and far between."
Kenneth Burns reports his voting experience today. He writes: "At Ward 35's O'Keeffe Middle School, I waited 45 minutes to vote, the longest I've ever waited. I was number 310.
When I arrived at 7:10 a.m., the line for voters with last names beginning A through L stretched down a hall and out to Spaight Street. All around me in the line, people talked on cell phones. 'The line's really long,' they said.
As they arrived for class, middle schoolers gawked at the voters. 'It's never this crowded this early,' observed one boy bearing a violin case and a bike helmet."
A resident of the east side neighborhood served by the polling place at Olbrich Gardens reports that the optical scanner for counting ballots is broken this morning. When opening up the scanner to determine the problem after many Madisonians had already cast their votes, the ballots spilled all over the floor. These ballots were subsequently stuffed into plastic bags by poll workers, who are currently waiting for a replacement.
Voting turnout is very high on the UW-Madison campus too. The Daily Cardinal is reporting that lines are a running over an hour long at the a campus-area fire station (here), as well as at Gordon Commons (here) and just less than an hour at the Lowell Center (here).
Turnout is very heavy elsewhere in downtown Madison. WisPolitics reports that the line at the Gates of Heaven Synagoge in James Madison Park, the polling place for Ward 39, was several hundred persons long by quarter-to-eight. Well over a hundred voters had already cast their ballots ten minutes earlier than that at another east side polling place, additionally.
Wow, lines are long out there this morning. I waited almost two hours on Sunday to cast an early ballot at the City-County Building, but hopefully it won't take so long at the polling places throughout Madison and surrounding communities today. That being said, it looks like turnout is already heavy.
I stopped by my regular polling place, Ward 41 at the downtown Madison Area Technical College campus, to get a glimpse of the Election Day scene there, and boy am I glad I voted early. The polling place, located in the northeast atrium of the building facing the old Madison Central High School arch, was completely filled with throngs poll workers, watchers, media, and of course, voters, with the line wrapping all the way back around the hallway that runs parallel to East Johnson Street. The electorate was overwhelmingly young, reflecting the UW student demographic that lives in the ward that surrounds the Capitol.
The lines at MATC just before 8 a.m. were much longer than anything I saw there at a comparable time in 2004, when turnout in support of John Kerry was immense. Well, it looks like the support for Barack Obama runs even deeper.
It's time to lay it on the line! That's the on challenge issued TDPF for those interested in predicting the outcome of today's fun. What's the consensus so far? Unsurprisingly, it's almost universally for an Obama win, with his electoral vote totals projected to be anywhere from a narrow 285 vote win to a 406 vote blowout. Most, though, put the Democratic candidate somewhere in the low 300s, which is in line with most of the poll-based projections being made around the nation.
Where do the candidates stand in the polls in Wisconsin? Obama has held a decisive lead over the last two weeks, placing anywhere between seven and 17 points above McCain in a dozen polls. The latest, conducted by Strategic Vision on Saturday, November 1 and released yesterday, found Obama up by 13 points, well outside the margin of error. More information about Wisconsin's place in the national electorate when it comes to polling can be found in the archives at FiveThirtyEight.com, which includes a detailed examination of the state's demographics and their potential effect on today's outcome.
What will turnout be today in Wisconsin? As detailed in an article in yesterday's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the number of people expected to cast their ballots around the state will be very high, and may include as much as three-quarters of the eligible electorate. However, given Obama's longtime lead in the polls here, along with Wisconsin's diminishing status as a swing state, their might be less urgency on the part of some voters to leave it all on the road in the horserace. Anecdotally speaking, though, that doesn't seem to be the case in Madison with its populace's overwhelming support for the Democratic candidate. Early voting smashed through 2004 levels, which are provided here by the Dane County Clerk, and the work of the Obama campaign is ubiquitous.
Conditions outside are unbelievable beautiful this morning. Temperatures are already in the mid-50s, with highs today forecast to reach into the 70s, record-breaking territory for southern Wisconsin in early November. Mostly sunny skies and light south winds are expected to continue through the afternoon, with evening lows remaining mild. This unseasonably warm weather should bode will for turnout.
Voting commences in Wisconsin, as thousands of polling places open around the state. There are now 13 hours for voters to get in line and cast their ballots.
Turnout for the 2008 presidential election is projected to be the highest in decades, in Wisconsin and around the nation. The number of people who have already cast absentee and early ballots has been unprecedented, with early voting figures in Madison outstripping those seen four years ago by more than 20%. Election Day turnout is expected to exceed that of the last presidential contest, with nearly three-quarters of Wisconsin voters expected to cast a ballot when all is said and done.
The legacy of the George W. Bush administration, and with it the perilous state of the economy, are primary driving factors in this contest, which has become one centered around a theme of "Change," first advanced by the Democratic candidates and now by those on the Republican side of the aisle.
The four persons running for the highest seats in the land are motivating voters too, and this election will make presidential history no matter what happens. If elected, Barack Obama will be the first African-American president in the nation's history, and his campaign alongside Democratic vice-presidential candidate Joe Biden has been driving record-smashing numbers at rallies and small-dollar donations. For those planning on voting Republican, the rapid ascendancy of Sarah Palin as their vice-presidential candidate has provided boost of energy and enthusiasm, and if elected would be the first woman in that seat in the nation's history.
No matter where one stands on the campaign, this election season has been a marvel.