Election Day Lines, Problems, and Free Coffee - The Intrepid

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Day Lines, Problems, and Free Coffee

It’s finally Election Day. After enduring more than two years of campaigning, Americans finally have the opportunity to go to the polls and vote. Or rather, wait in line for 2 hours, and then vote. Across the country, long lines have ground the process to a halt.

Lines in the swing states appear particularly bad. In Susquehanna Township, Pennsylvania, hundreds of people were lined up by 6:55am. At 7am at Penn State University, Pennsylvania 1,000 students were already lined up to vote. Similar problems have been noted at campuses across the country. In Columbus, Ohio, the average wait time is an estimated four hours!

At Olive Branch Baptist Church in Kansas City, the line already wrapped around the building at 5:00am. But, hope was on the way for these poor voters. At 5:30am, the Obama “Mobile Comfort Team” arrived in full force. Armed with chocolate chip cookies, coffee, magazines, folding chairs, and children’s books, the team set to the task of making life a little more comfortable for those waiting in line. The Obama campaign even hired a licensed masseuse to give free neck massages to voters stuck in line.

Even in the reddest of red and bluest of blue states, people are turning out in record numbers to vote. In Utah, a state McCain expects to win with more than 60% of the vote, the average wait at a polling station is more than 30 minutes. In Rhode Island, 500 extra voting machines were purchased and more workers were hired in order to deal with the increased number of voters.

Technical problems and human error are also causing concerns across the U.S. In Kansas City, Missouri, several polling stations had incorrect voting lists, leading to a frantic scramble to fix the problem. In North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia, iVotronic voting machines were flipping votes. The problem has since been corrected, but early voters reported that votes for Obama were counting for McCain, and vice versa.

One consolation for voters is that voting will entitle them to a free cup of coffee from Starbucks. Unfortunately, for Starbucks, it turns out that giving out free “gifts” is illegal in many states. In Georgia, for example, “Any person who gives or receives, or offers to give or receive, or participates in the giving or receiving of money or gifts for the purpose of registering as a voter, voting, or voting for a particular candidate in any primary or election shall be guilty of a felony.” Starbuck’s solution? Free coffee for everyone!