I’ve just come back from a visit to four polling places in the area surrounding the campus of Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. This was, you may recall, the epicenter for long lines and voter irregularities in the presidential election of 2004. What I saw in these visits from 9:00 to 9:30 was straightforwardly positive: people were voting and there were no lines. Here’s a typical view, outside the Northside Library on High Street:
The gentleman in the yellow-green vest on the right is a monitor working with the AFL-CIO in case of any voting difficulties. He’s from out of state, so he has to remain outside the polling place, but there is also an observer with the Obama campaign inside the building. The other folks in the picture are with the Obama campaign, acting essentially as voter shepherds. In the event of a long line, they’ve got snacks and water and encouragement to offer people to stay in line and wait it out. There was no McCain campaign presence here or at the other polling places I visited.
Please don’t let this picture lull you into complacency. At each of the polling places I visited, there had been lines early in the morning, from 6:30 to 7:30 am, as people sought to get voting out of the way before heading to work. Will lines return in the late afternoon as people head to the polls from their workplaces? I’ll keep an eye out and let you know.
[11:45 am Update: I’ve just finished revisiting these four polling places. There are currently no lines at any of them.
[1:30 pm Update: Still no lines at any of these polling places. I hear Virginia is not so lucky.]