Election Day tip: Bring a black pen

Mrs. News Cut reported this morning that over 200 were in line at Lake Jr. High in Woodbury this morning when the polls opened. About 70 had lined up at 5:30 this morning. And, she says, six people showed up, saw the line and left.


But, the dispatch reports, the line moved quickly even though there were only 10 voting booths because people brought black pens and sat on the gym’s bleachers and filled out their ballot.

Meanwhile, senior Jefferson School in Uptown voting correspondent John Nicholson reports, “It took about an hour to vote. We were in line at 6:45. We were about 100th in line.”


Via Twitter, these observations from various voters:

  • Lines on Selby and Lexington wrap around the block
  • First batch was just let into the room! Decent amount of confusion, almost no signs telling people where to be.
  • 100 people on line in saint Paul before polls open at 7am
  • OMG! I just went to try to vote: line SOO long. So, back home, kids to school then to the line to wait. Most cars in lot had Obama stickers!
  • (Mpls) Got my vote in. I was the 24th voter in our precinct. By the time I left, there were already several hundred people in line. Democracy!
  • At least 100 deep at Diamond Lake Lutheran

    An MPR colleague, Frank Hudson, reports that “by the time polls opened at 7:02 at Ward 8 in South Mpls there were around 80 in line, double what I counted at 6:50 AM. However the line moved fast. It would have moved faster, but they ran out of BIC pens to mark the ballots. I was out the door at 7:12 AM after voting.”

    Please describe your voting experience below. If you’d like to shoot a picture, use the “Contact Bob” link on the right. By the way, at the polling place in Woodbury, our intrepid reporter tells me, election judges were making sure peoples’ cellphones and cameras were off.

    For vicarious voting thrills, I recommend the Twitter #votereport page.

    • Judy Zerby

      Voted in Fridley. Long line to get in the door, but when 7:00 a.m. came everyone moved along quickly and I was back home by 7:30. Great job by all. Best to bring own black pen – seems to be a shortage.

      An EAGLE flew into the tree near the polling place – a true symbol of our democracy. Voting is our right – do it today and make a difference!

    • Andrew Hakala
    • Chris Nelson

      You’d think blackpengate would be something the election judges would have been ready for.

    • My polling place in North Minneapolis is always extremely organized, but it seems that people aren’t really necessarily prepared to vote for anything but the President. Some folks seemed pretty confused that there were two sides to the ballot and that there were so many judges on the back!

      Everyone was in good moods except for the guy in front of my complaining that his wife wasn’t going to get to vote because they own their own business and have kids and he’s in grad school. The other people in line were all smiling and anticipatory.

    • Just voted in Nokomis neighborhood. Folks coming out when I got in line said an hour, but it only took us a half-hour, and the line was even shorter when we left. Seems like an opening rush, at least here.

    • Bob Collins

      //his wife wasn’t going to get to vote because they own their own business and have kids and he’s in grad school.

      If it was really important, I asusme the guy could spring for a babysitter for a few hours. Or he can skip a class to take the kids.

      But, you know, when I read this account, all I could see is those pictures of people with the purple thumbs voting in Iraq.

    • Al

      It took me about 30 minutes arriving at 7:05, but the line looked like 5 minutes by the time I left.

      Shouldn’t things go pretty smoothly in MN since we regularly have such a high turnout? I was under the impression that MN regularly saw 80+% turnout in most presidential elections, so we should be ready for high numbers.

    • LK

      Voting at 7:00 in Eden Prairie was smooth. Me and my buddy were about the 85th in line when the precinct opened, and it took about 30 minutes to get through.

      One thing I noticed is that there were A LOT of worried faces out here — from folks that I’m guessing are on both sides!

    • Alison

      I saw worried faces and happy faces (due to pride?). Very few people seemed unaffected. It is an emotional day and it should remind us all how amazing this nation is.

    • Carolynn

      Just voted in Edina – no pen worries. Longish line at 9:15, but moved pretty well, only about 20mins in line. Everyone very excited and seeming positive and happy about voting. I did get yelled at for texting while in line to check in. Sorry, I didn’t see the one 8 1/2 x 11 inch sign you had taped up in a place no one would ever look…

    • Jennifer B

      Went to my polling place in Roseville at 6:50am. The line was half way around the building.

      Once it opened, things moved pretty smoothly and quickly. They had an older gentleman working the line offering people free cups of coffee as well as a table of coffee, lemonade, and cookies to make the wait a little easier.

      Once we got in to vote, most of the booths were full, but if people didn’t mind, they allowed them to sit at a table and fill their ballots out.

      One very encouraging thing I noticed is that the entire time I was there, the table for people to register was full. Also, judging by the levels of blue and yellow slips on the officials’ table, the count of pre-registration and newly registered voters were about even at that point.

    • Jennifer B

      I forgot to mention…

      The wait at opening rush was about 45 minutes, but seemed to have reduced drastically by the time we were through.

    • Lesli

      Great voting experience in southwest Minneapolis this morning. Arrived at 7:10; line was out the door, up the steps and onto the sidewalk in front of my polling place at MLK Park. Election judges walked the lines to direct people, hand out voter registration cards, and answer questions. Folks were friendly and chatty; lots brought their kids along. Nice day to be standing outside!

      My ballot was number 246 for this precinct and I was out the door at 8:20. Line was much shorter when I left, so I’m assuming I hit the peak of before-work voters.

    • Elizabeth T

      Was at Powderhorn Park at 8:45 a.m. There are 2 different wards(?) voting in the same building. The line was for the other area. I had no wait, and the line for the other was gone by 9:10 when I left.

      25 minutes for no line?

      My 4 1/2 year old was with me; I wanted him to see this. I could show him my ballot, what I do with it. Much to my surprise, there was a “Kids Vote!” sign, complete with ballots and a miniature voting booth. This is the coooooolest thing. The kids could get a kiddie ballot with the choices for the president and federal senate/house. It also had the 3 ballot options (for Mpls/state) and it had the choices for the Minneapolis school board. The people all had pictures next to their name. After turning in his ballot, he got his own I voted sticker which looks different than mine. The ballots are on bubble paper, and I was informed that, yes, they really are going to be counted. The results will get posted at http://www.kidsvotingminneapolis.org I didn’t tell him who to vote for, but apparently he recognized Barak Obama and decided that the Constitution Party candidate ought to be elected.

      The people at the poll were helpful.

      The man in front of me turning in his ballot to the machine left, and immediately the machine started beeping. A minor little glitch with the poll worker not knowing what was going on. The machine’s screen indicated that he had voted for too many people on one option, and indicated which office it was. She caught up with him, and had him set up to get a new ballot and void the erroneous one.

      I must admit, it hadn’t occurred to me what would happen if someone voted for too many people. It’s nice to know it would get caught, rather than cause problems later.

      I was voter #231, according to the machine.

    • Elizabeth T

      forgot about the ‘vote for too many’ — in my last residence, they had punch-card ballots. One wouldn’t notice ahead of time that too many people had been chosen. This is one reason to have the optical scanners I hadn’t considered, and increases my opinion that we ought to have this technology as a support of paper ballots.

    • Just voted in Mound. At our precinct, over half of the registered voters have already voted as of 11:15AM. No line when I was there.

    • AW

      Live in SW Minneapolis. Got in the line at 7:10 – it was down the block and around the corner. Finished at 9:05, and the line was just as long. Things moved smoothly, and though it was a very long wait, at least the weather was nice. I was voter 291 on the ballot counter.

    • sm

      At my St. Paul location by 10am some 500 had voted. The voter registration area was very busy but otherwise minimal wait for existing voters. They said things were starting to pick up after a lull; very busy this morning. With some 20 people ahead of me the whole process took less than 15 minutes.

    • SB

      I live in downtown Minneapolis and voted at a healthcare facility across from Eliott Park this morning. I had also voted at the same location for the Congresional Primary and was the only person voting at 7:45 am.

      Today I arrived at the polls at 7:30 am and the line was already out the building and snaked back and forth inside as well. The whole process took just over an hour and a half. I’m glad I wore good shoes and brought a book, despite arriving to work much later than I anticipated.

    • HL

      I voted at about 10 AM in Detroit Lakes this morning at Trinity Lutheran Church (Ward 2, Precinct 1). I waited in line for 15 minutes and was 404 on the ballot counter.

      Some disconcerting and quirky things:

      – The election judges were not checking ID’s if the person’s name appeared on the registered voter list.

      – There were signs up from the primary that indicated you had to vote for only one party and could not cross party lines on your ballot.

      – There were few if any black felt tip pens to mark ballots. I only saw blue ball point pens.

      – The election judges had the registered voter list broken in to two sections: A-L and M-Z. Everyone in line with me (about 10-12) had names beginning A-L and not one person in line with an M-Z name. It made the wait longer than necessary and was extremely inefficient.

    • Mike R

      Every polling place I’ve ever voted at breaks up the list into smaller chunks of the alphabet. Otherwise, everyone would ahve to stand in one extremely long line to sign one long list of A to Z names. There is only one copy of the list at the polling place (otherwise, someone could sign each copy once and vote multiple times).

      So of course the length of the lines fluctuates. At some other point in the day the A-L list will be long, and the M-Z will be short.