back to article Morning voting in America

The polls opened at 6am here in New York City, and the lines were expected to be long all across the city thanks (and I really mean thanks, because I like democracy) to very high voter turnout. Since my wife has been away stumping for Barack Obama in the rich suburbs of Pittsburgh for the past five days, being able to get to …


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  1. Andus McCoatover

    Pity I'm not a Chinese journalist...

    ...else I'd headline this as a "Morning Erection".

    -Gorrit already. Too bleeding obvious.

  2. Thomas Bottrill

    Voting machine

    I found a video of the voting machine on the internet, as I didn't quite get how it worked from the description.

    It looks ridiculously complicated. What exactly is wrong with a piece of paper and a pencil?

  3. Goubert

    @Andus McCoatover

    A Chinese journalist ? Call the WWF, they're an endangered species.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    You may be queuing like a Brit, but your enthusiasm for voting is thoroughly unbritish.

  5. Richard Gadsden

    @Thomas Bottrill

    Nothing wrong with paper and a pencil, but you'd have to have something the size of a Harry Potter novel - and not one of the early ones - to have one ballot paper for each of the positions in a typical US election.

    In Britain, we complain about how much extra work and time it takes when we have two elections at once; our system would collapse under the strain of the forty-odd that the Americans generally manage.

  6. Fred Bauer

    Some queues are much longer

    Here in Maryland... got in line at 6:10, with the polls opening at 7:00 AM. There were probably 250 people already in line at that point. I finally voted at 8:30h wasn't as bad as I had expected.

  7. chris

    Oh my!

    Such a sad article about socialism working it's way in to the US.

  8. Markie Dussard


    Oh my! Such a sad comment about how chris doesn't know what socialism was.

  9. Matt Eagles


    Is it a keeness to vote or voting for a Democrat you think is socialism? If voting Democrat is socialism then surely you've had it in the US for ages what with JFK ,Roosevelt etc.

  10. RW
    Thumb Up

    @ Thomas Bottrill

    The problem is that in the US, election day is *all* elections at all levels of government. Plus, the elections at each level may be surprisingly complex.

    Thus, at the Federal level you vote for President & VP; your Representative; and every six years, a Senator. At the state level, you vote for governor, other state-level officials (depending on the state) and state legislature member(s), plus assorted propositions, initiatives, referenda, and maybe even a recall or two. And at the municipal level you will be voting for mayor, city councilman, dogcatcher, judges, etc.

    Keep in mind that in the US, a great many more official positions are filled by election, rather than by hired guns or appointees. It is much more of a democracy than many outsiders realize.

    Putting it on paper is a mess. Those old mechanical voting machines are a wonder.

  11. Chris Collins

    Just go later?

    Screw getting up early to go to the polls, why not just let them open later, like here? Surely you want the people with jobs to vote, rather than just the doley scum?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Such a sad article about socialism working it's way in to the US."

    Has it got a green card then ?

  13. Luther Blissett

    Democracy R.I.P.

    Reads like a lovely homely obituary for a fine old friend. I'm sure he'd appreciate it. Though I'd say he's been dead for at least a century. They'd have never installed the Federal Reserve System had he been alive. RIP old friend. We miss you. Wherever you are. Wherever you aint.

  14. Damn Yank

    @Richard Gadsden

    Actually, I voted this morning with a just a black pen and both sides of a ledger sheet of paper. Fill-in-the-circles, that sort of thing. The machine that tallies the votes was sitting right there in the room. You insert the paper (through a cardboard sleeve so nobody can peek at your choices) and it scans the blacked out circles and immediately processes your vote. They'll come collect it later after the polls are closed and the information will be downloaded to the county systems. If any problems arise, they can go back and review the paper ballots by hand.

    Piece o' cake.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Markie Dussard @Chris

    I think chris meant the Co-Ops - considering that the Co-Ops in this country started out from the various Socialist movements.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    voting result

    I thought it was illegal to tell people who you voted for?

  17. Tom


    @Chris -

    I'm scared and I'm angry.

    Can you quickly explain to me what Socialism is before I get the '45.

  18. Charles Manning

    How Palin votes

    She put a big "No" cross next to the person she hates.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    democratic 1upmanship...

    You lot must enjoy queui *ahem*standing in line more than us Brittish can't you just go later? You're missing out on valid skiving reasons here.

  20. Fred Bauer

    @voing result

    Nothing wrong with telling people who you voted for. What IS illegal is giving someone a receipt (that they can leave with) showing which way they voted.

  21. Rob
    Paris Hilton

    @"voting result" By Anonymous Coward

    I think you are thinking of Big Brother

    Paris because as soon as her profile drops she'll be on there too.

  22. Luther Blissett


    Socialism is a lot of things, and increasing by the year, as the manipulators of the hyperreal use the intertubes to confuse concepts, distract peole, nullify dissent and opposition. One important meaning is that phase of the proletariat's overthrow of capitalism that Marx in Das Kapital called the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. This is where the Revolution grinds to a dead stop, and a select few get to control All and Everything.

    Better keep a tight hold on the '45.

  23. Markie Dussard

    A kind person said ...

    "I think chris meant the Co-Ops - considering that the Co-Ops in this country started out from the various Socialist movements."

    I think you give chris too much credit (you must be some sort of softhearted ... liberal !!! :-).

    I think he's just an echo chamber.

  24. Andus McCoatover

    Election surprisingly complex? You bet!!

    Gordon Bennett! No wonder there was the "Hanging Chad" debacle awhile ago. (Dunno what my mate Chad did to deserve it, apart from being an "Uphill Gardener". At least, he was well hung....)

    I guess we have to wait for the results, then. Maybe the lawsuits....

    Damn those IT guys. Must've been for a quick pint with the BOFH and PFY.... ;-)

    (No, to AC, it's not illegal to tell your vote. In the civilised world, anyway. It's Democracy, and free speech. It is illegal to SELL your vote, IIRC...)

  25. Ed Deckard

    I think (hope) chris was being sarcastic

    Was in line before 7 AM, waiting for the polls to open to elect the President of Texas and those other, lesser, States. Had a voter registration card, four different utility-type bills in my name, a state ID and passport in hand, just in case my right to vote was called into question. The legal guns-for-hire representing the Republican party, doubtlessly fooled by my pale complexion, vaguely Anglo-Saxon name and business suit into believing I would cast a vote for their candidate, chose to let me through unchallenged. Those fools.

  26. mark
    Thumb Down

    Queueing Times

    I'm amazed that the government gets away with queues that are hours long - this disincentivises voting and inhibits the operation of the democratic process. Every year there are 'record' queues - why is nobody buying more equipment, opening up more polling stations?

    I'm in the UK and have never seen a queue at a polling station like those in the US - madness.

  27. Mark Dowd

    @Anonymous Coward

    It's not illegal, but some people are INSANELY private about who they voted for.

  28. Anonymous Coward

    voting by paper

    I decided to take my chances with the paper ballot today instead of one of those dohickey machines (that a number of folks were having problems with this morning). There was a line of us out the front of our local place and when we finally got inside there were more lines. I wish to dickens I knew where the heck all these people are during the other elections. they seem like cicadas that only come out every four years and you never see them otherwise.

    Several of us had chosen paper and we just sat down at the township table and voted right there in front of everybody and I don't think anyone was worried about who might have looked over our shoulders (you certainly could with the folks standing at some of the machines). Voting is "secret", but you don't have to hide it. I'm not ashamed of whomever or whatever I vote for (or against)...I generally just don't consider it anyone else's business what I did. I'm more concerned that some folks in certain areas of the country are more concerned with trying to keep people from voting than not. I consider it my duty, obligation, and privilege to vote and have been doing it since I was old enough to be allowed.

  29. Jeff Cook


    Socialism = redistributing the wealth. See France. Or most (if not all) of Europe.

  30. Anonymous Coward

    Socialism?? Isn't that what you call giving the Banking Industry $750 Billion?

    @Chris, Did you say you were a follower of Fox News Sean Hannity ? Bill O'Reilly? Rush Limbaugh? or just another stupid twit?

    I'm voting for Obama because I'm NOT a "Sheeple" like you!

    Regarding voting lines, I am of the opinion that there should be a Federal Law stating that you can't get your tax return check if you don't vote and another making Election day a mandatory federal paid holiday. That will solve the longstanding problem that less than 25% of all elegible voters actually vote and long lines that can disenfranchise voter.

  31. Paul

    @ Luther and Chris

    "Better keep a tight hold on the '45"

    Yep, you do that. You might also want to load as many canned goods as possible into the back of your truck and go hide in the mountains. Gather up everyone else who believes evil scary socialism is upon us (Chris, and that Webster freak probably) and take them with you.

    We'll, in touch when we need all y'all to save us from ourselves. Yeah.

    I'd suggest bringing some books with you so you can spend the time learning what the words "conservative", "liberal", "socialist" and "communist" REALLY mean (not what you think they do) but I hear that there book learnin' is the Devil's own work.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    voting machines

    An IT rag publishes an article implying that good old lever machines are impervious to fraud? A libel on American ingenuity if ever I saw one! Next time I set out to rig the vote, I'll make sure the machines make that comforting mechanical-age sound, though; thanks for the tip.

  33. Petrea Mitchell

    What's wrong with a paper and pencil

    New York State has a unique law regarding how the ballot is presented. It's worded in such a way that only the lever-operated voting machines are legal there.

    Paper and pencil would probably be an improvement. The only time lever voting machines don't come out as the most unreliable way to vote in the US is when a study doesn't bother to include them.

  34. Peyton

    re: long queues

    "I'm amazed that the government gets away with queues that are hours long"

    That would be "governments" - 50 of 'em, as each state has control over how its election process is implemented (within reason).

    But to the point, I think roughly half the states are acting on this - I voted last week because I'm in one of the states with "early" voting - which basically means we have an election "week" in addition to election "day".

    Oh, and I also used a paper ballot with circles to fill in - it's not bad at all, especially since I don't bother voting for many of the positions with candidates I've never heard of (like elected judges, treasurers, commissioners of fluffernutter...)

  35. Rich
    Thumb Down

    Paper voting

    "Voting is "secret", but you don't have to hide it"

    But if you don't have to hide it somebody could threaten, cajole or bribe you to vote and come with you to the polling station to make sure you did what you specified.

    Good old crosses on paper are the best way. Also, there is a possible system (a bit like some Aussie ballots) where you can either:

    a. vote individually on a huge piece of paper for dogcatcher, congressman and whether trash cans should be painted magenta or taupe


    b: or just put a big tick under "Democrat" or "Republican" and get their nominees and colour choice.

  36. Bob. Hitchen

    To queue or not to queue that is the question

    Funny thing is in the UK the one place I've never seen a queue is at a polling station in any kind of election. I heard on TV it took 8 hours in some queues. I would have thought that was damn dangerous in a country with the right to bear arms. Should sue the butt off the retards for making somebody have a day off work. I do like the idea of electing council office scumbags though especially since they have now been politically infiltrated.

  37. michael

    lots of exections

    one question I have allways wanted to ask usaens why do you yote for so meny public offices and do you like it tjhat way it seams to me that voteing for pepol like chief of police and that menes that the person is more worried abut keeping voters happy than doing a good job

  38. Peyton


    "more worried abut keeping voters happy than doing a good job"

    The general idea is that the two items will be synonymous ;)

    "why do you yote for so meny public offices"

    Imagine back to our lawless west - communicating with the capitol takes weeks and you need a sheriff now - how else ya gonna pick one? The lots of little positions like those that no one cares about ("Commissioner of Insurance" comes to mind 8) usually don't get many votes - in fact the candidates really don't even campaign - so those positions mostly boil down to which candidate has the most friends. I imagine elected judges are in a similar position, since they do not affiliate with any of the parties.

  39. Paul

    Califonian here

    For the last few elections we've used a system that I initially thought was kind of a strange compromise, but it actually seems pretty good.

    You slide the ballot into a little booklet thing (kind of hard to describe) and the circles on the ballot line up with the candidates and propositions in the booklet. Then you take a black marker and put a dot in the circle next to what you want to vote for.

    And before the ballot goes into the ballot box they run it through a scanner and alert you if you've over- or under- voted.

  40. Ed Gould
    Jobs Halo

    Morning Voting in America

    Just to get it on the record I live/vote in Chicago IL, USA. At one time 4 or 5 years years ago I was a judge in the local precinct for voting. This year I had to resign my judgeship due to health issues. I can honestly say that since my judgeship 4 years ago the voting in our precinct in Chicago has been an honest one. The only people denied were ones that did not have reasonable proof (drivers license or an utility bill). The number of peopler *MIGHT* have been 1 or 2 per year (some times non). The election numbers are always under lock and key until the end of the day tally is taken. The numbers are always double and triple checked by various poll watchers (of two different parties). When the results are sent in the same people who checked before are there to verify all numbers.

    Has Chicago always been clean. NO. About 15 years ago I was a poll watcher in a HEAVILY democratic precinct. I actually saw money in the polling place traded between people who wanted to sell their votes and the political backroomers who paid people for voting. Yes the propper authorities were notified and several minor convictions were eventually given. Is Chicago still a dirty politics town yes/no but in my opinion (IF) any of the selling/stealing goes on it is well hidden. My personal opinion is that it is at zero or close to.

    Chicagoans are if anything fair and honest. The issue as I see it is when the current Republican people in office think they have the right to change peoples votes through either devious means or ballot tampering. They are essentially saying they know what is best for the country, horse feathers!

    The Republican Governors and other state officials rigged the last two elections in states like Florida and Ohio(and others). Shame on them. There is so much shame that even apologizing for their misdeeds is lacking credulity. The GITMO fiasco has permanently ruined the US image all over the world. The ABU GRIAB is and was unconscionable beyond words and should have prompted an impeachment of the entire cabinet of the G. Bush administration as well as any military officers who sanctioned anything in either place.

    I am sure that someone will come to the defense of any of the above people but it is at best a hollow call and one should wonder who is writing such tripe.

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