Lines of Voters Try to Cast Ballots Early

Lines of Voters Try to Cast Ballots Early (Newsday – AP)

Voters trying to beat the rush turned out early to cast ballots in many precincts as Election Day opened, forming long lines that snaked out the doors, waiting in rain and even taking along chairs for expected long waits. Umbrellas and raincoats were needed Tuesday from Texas to the lower Great Lakes, and snow-covered roads were a problem in the Texas Panhandle. In some places, voters were standing in line before the polling place doors opened. Besides the presidency, voters were filling 34 Senate seats, 11 governorships and all 435 House seats.

Both parties had pushed to increase turnout among their supporters, and even with early voting in many states, tens of millions were to head to the polls before the long Election Day wound to a close. “We wanted to come out early to vote but we never expected such a heavy turnout,” Linda Russell said as she stood in line before polls opened in Raleigh, N.C. Elsewhere in North Carolina, lines of voters snaked down sidewalks and across a street at a Durham precinct, where one man brought a chair to ease the wait. At a Forsyth County precinct, the first voter in line said he got there before dawn and soon was joined by several hundred more people.

I noticed that the lines were incredibly long–by far longer than I’ve ever seen–at the polling place in Arlington, Virginia that I passed this morning. If turnout is this high in Virginia and North Carolina, neither of which are considered battleground states, then it’s definitely going to be incredible in places like Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

Traditionally, high turnout has thought to be good news for Democrats, as the poor, minorities, the young, and those with little education–key parts of the Democratic base–tend to be least disposed to vote. I’m honestly not sure what it means in this election, though, with people on both sides much more energized than I can ever remember.

Update (1145): Live reporting via BlackBerry from the girlfriend indicates that voting is a zoo in Alexandria, Virginia. There’s not a Senate race, governor’s race, significant ballot initiative, or close House race on the line there. Bush is favored to win the state by a comfortable–although not insurmountable–margin.

Update (1246): 90 minutes and counting in Alexandria.

FILED UNDER: 2004 Election, The Presidency, , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Limelite says:

    Read if you want to know “what it means.”

  2. James Joyner says:

    Ah, yes, expert unbiased analysis.

  3. Bithead says:

    The trends I’m seeing are the longest lines being in ‘red’ states. That leans Democrat only if you think that the people who usually don’t vote are substantially more Democrat-leaning.

    Personally, I have cause to doubt it.

    And by the way, did you see the Guam story?
    Their polls are closed, and they went big for Bush… and they’ve been a solid indicator, having voted with the winner in the last 6 Presidential elections.