Area polling lines slow; High early voting turnout a factor

Long waiting lines were reported in voting stations across the country as Americans stormed to the polls Tuesday in what could be record numbers for the election of President Barack Obama, but traffic was slow at polling stations near campus.

Helen Pierson, election judge at St. Stephen Presbyterian Church, said traffic at the station was slow and steady, most likely because of the high percentage of early voters.

Republican John McCain received 55.4 percent of the votes in Tarrant County, and Obama received 43.7 percent as of 11:04 p.m. Tuesday.

In Tarrant County, voter turnout was about 65 percent. Early voters totaled 425,893, and about 98 percent of precincts had reported 165,831 Election Day voters as of 11:04 p.m. Tuesday.

Pierson said the line was out the door and into the parking lot at 7 a.m. However, voter turnout slowed later in the day because 1,299 of the area’s 2,250 registered voters had cast their votes early, she said.

At 2:45 p.m., Pierson said 380 votes had been cast at the site.

Unlike in past elections, the St. Stephen voting site had no major problems, Pierson said.

“We’ve experienced high levels of cooperation,” Pierson said. “People in this area tend to be well-informed and educated. We’ve only had boring problems.”

More than 130 million people nationwide were expected to vote, a turnout rate that could approach, or possibly exceed, the modern record of 67 percent set in 1960.

Stormy Lovett, election judge at the Paschal High School voting site, said things went smoothly throughout the day, except for a few instances when people showed up but were registered in other counties.

Lovett said many TCU students came to Paschal thinking they had registered in Tarrant County when they were still registered in their home counties.

One TCU student from Austin showed up at 2 p.m. thinking he was registered in Tarrant County, Lovett said. Once he realized he was still registered in Travis County, he quickly decided to drive to Austin to cast his vote, she said.

“He looked at me and said, ‘I guess I’ll be going to Austin. Road trip!'” Lovett said. “I hope he’s voting for my candidate.”

Another student cried when she realized she wouldn’t be able to vote because her voting site was more than five hours away, Lovett said. The woman eventually voted on a provisional ballot but was worried her vote wouldn’t count, she said.

“The girl was crying, ‘I wanted to vote for Obama,'” Lovett said. “I told her all you can do is pray.”

Malia Hubbard, a senior neuroscience major, voted at Paschal, but not before running into a few setbacks. She said someone had changed the voting address on her registration card without her knowledge, which led her to show up at the wrong polling site.

Hubbard said she was certain her candidate would win the election, although she is apprehensive about what will happen afterward.

“It could either be the best or worst decision that I’ve ever made,” Hubbard said.

Tarrant County Votes

John McCain /Sarah Palin 341,518 total votes, 55.44 percent

Barack Obama / Joe Biden 269,858 total votes, 43.81 percent

Information from McClatchy Wire Services was used in this report