This is what democracy looks like

By Geraldine Sealey
November 3, 2004 12:10AM (UTC)
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We're getting verklempt reading and hearing all of these amazing stories about Americans standing to be counted -- standing in long lines, in the rain, in the pitch-black dark of early morning, and despite poll "challengers" hoping to intimidate them and the inconvenience of waiting hours, in some cases, to cast ballots. We're hearing this from our own correspondents in the field -- our Farhad Manjoo reports from Florida that turnout there could reach 75 percent; from our colleagues who waited two hours to vote, in Brooklyn, no less; and from reports pouring in from other news organizations about what it was to be an American voter on this most historic Election Day 2004.

From the Kansas City Star:


"At 5:45 a.m. -- 15 minutes before the polls would open -- about 30 people stood in the dark waiting at Wornall Road Baptist Church, 400 W. Meyer Blvd., according to election workers. An hour later, a line of about 50 people was working its way through the hall and out the basement door. Voters waited up to 30 minutes to punch cards at one of seven voting stations in the church. Some joked about the length of certain ballot measures taped on a wall outside the voting room, but few complained about the wait."

"At 6:17 a.m., the line at the polling place at the Legacy Center of St. Peter's Catholic Church, Meyer Boulevard and Holmes Road, was so long that 10 persons were waiting outside the doors in the chilly morning air. 'Hey,' said a woman arriving at the end of the line, 'this is what democracy looks like.'"

From the AP in New Jersey:


"One polling place in Hoboken had a two-hour line as voters raced to cast ballots before heading off to work. 'People are coming in, saying, "We need to vote! This is the one election we all need to be in," said Sharon Poole, a poll supervisor in Newark, where voters were casting ballots at Rutgers Newark's Conklin Hall. In a typical election, perhaps 30 voters cast ballots in Poole's Newark district; by 9 a.m., 70 had already voted and she expected more than 200 would vote by day's end."

"... Clutching oversize coffees, lugging backpacks laden with thick academic texts and awkwardly cradling cell phones between scrunched-up shoulders and necks, many students ran in to vote before hitting classes or study hall."

From Bloomberg:


"Ohio Republican party spokesman Jason Mauk, sending an e-mail while in line in Columbus, said he had waited more than 2 1/2 hours to vote. In Cincinnati, Kerry voter Elizabeth Day waited an hour and a half with her two children. She said there was no line at her polling place at about the same time of day four years ago."

"Voters streamed into East Hills Middle School in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, casting 185 ballots by 8:40 a.m., a pace that poll workers said is unprecedented for the suburban district. Voters waited 40 minutes in a line that stretched to about 120 people at its longest."


"In Palm Beach County, Florida, a Democratic stronghold, the wait was as long as an hour and a half. In Webster Groves, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis, voters who arrived when the polls opened at 6 a.m. had to wait an hour."

This War Room staffer's brother-in-law stopped by his polling place, a vo-tech school outside Harrisburg, Pa., around 7:30 a.m. The line went out the door and started wrapping around the building; usually the line barely even protrudes from the classroom with the voting booths, he says. His experience, from the sounds of it, has been repeated countless times in precincts all over the nation today. Reader Alexander Csicsery-Ronay sent in a dispatch from his district at Oberlin College in Ohio -- he waited four hours to vote. "This phenomenon is both ridiculous and astonishing," he said. "I cannot believe the wait, which forced me to miss class and some work as well, but I am so impressed and happy that there is something in this country that is worth waiting so long for, and that people are buckling down and weathering it."

Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at

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