Americans all over the country are heading to their polling places to cast their votes for President as well as a number of other races. Polls opened at 6 a.m. in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, and they close at 8 p.m. in NJ and CT and at 9 p.m. in NY.

Based on anecdotes, the predictions of high voter turnout are coming true. Overall, we're hearing that lines were forming early in the morning. Some confusion may be due to people not knowing what district they are in (some polling sites have voting multiple districts--you can look up your district here) and some waits are from only one voter registration book being available or issues with how lines split by the alphabet (A to L here, M to Z there) are handled by poll workers.


Updated: Here's video of a crazy line snaking around the block outside a Greenwich Village polling site, taken by Stacy Horn at 11 a.m. Stick it out till near the end for a glimpse of a well-known indie actor who will be guest-starring on 30 Rock later this season.

And here's a video of the wild line outside P.S. 9 in Brooklyn's Prospect Heights neighborhood; the video is taken at 6:30 a.m. and CityRoom estimated, that at 6 a.m., there were 400 people on line.

And here are some readers' accounts--more after the jump, as well as other information, and you can tell us about your experience by leaving a comment or sending us an email or photos at tips(at)gothamist(dot)com:

  • A poll worker on the Upper West Side said there was a small line waiting for him and his fellow workers at 5:30 a.m.
  • A voter in Jersey City said he arrived just before 6 a.m. and ended up being the 31st person to vote.
  • At 117th Street and 5th Avenue in Harlem, Joe Schumacher reports that people who arrived at 6:15 a.m. only got out of the polling site at 8 a.m.: "A poll worker came out and explained that there are two machines but only one book. The book has to be passed between the booths which slowing everything down."
  • From Greenpoint:

    I thought I would be ahead of the curve by getting up at 6am to go to the polls first thing. Although sure enough, at 6:05 there were already about 40 people at the polls. So I go ahead and show them my card and get in line, when at 6:07 someone announces that the voting booth in my line is broken. The woman at our booth who was in the bathroom can't believe this, comes over, and says very loudly "Oh no it's not broken, that just what it looks like when they vote Republican." And I'll tell you, that was one embarrassed conservative walking out of the booth. Two minutes later the next crisis is announced when someone exclaims "we have no paper ballots!" Once again our confident leader tells them that if they had read their instructions they would know they are located at the BACK of the booth. And didn't they even read their instructions??

Twenty minutes later I'm leaving the polls where the line now stretches out the door. Inside there are only 6 people and one police officer running the whole show. I overhear someone say "I don't think they were prepared for this turnout," but how, after all this, could everyone not expect this? I'm always surprised that every year the polls are understaffed and EVERYONE is caught off guard by the myriad crises erupting throughout the day.

Anyway, whoever lives in NYC, I hope you went early because it's all downhill from here.

  • From a reader at P.S. 29 in Cobble Hill: "line snakes from henry street, up baltic, and onto clinton. very sad."
  • From P.S. 17 in Williamsburg:
    I voted this morning and I had a painless experience. I arrived at 5:45 AM and there were four people in line. By the time we were let into the polling place at 6:05 AM the line snaked around the building and there were probably 100 or more people waiting to get in. The voting machine for my district was broken at first, but the problem was quickly rectified. I was third in my district to vote and I was out of the building by 6:20 AM.

    While my experience was smooth, I could tell that it was going to be a long day for everyone else. The Eisenhower era voting machines combined with poll workers who haven't seen daylight in thirty years is a bad combination. The BOE needs to put a term limit on poll workers because every election it's the same party machine people
    doing a half-ass job and not knowing where to direct people.

    Additionally, many voters are struck by the same mysterious disease that air travelers get - an acute inability to follow simple instructions that have been in place for decades and to read signs pointing them to the correct destination.

  • From P.S. 84 in Williamsburg:
    Waited about 30 minutes in total. The long was line for the 61st district, but quite short for the 65th and non-existent for the 60th who also vote at P.S. 84. I thought they might bring out a few extra machines to speed the process but it was the same setup as for the local elections - one per district.
    There was some confusion over a discrepancy between the numbers on the voter cards and the number of votes registered by the machine. Apparently some earlier voters had left the line (out of frustration?) after signing in to get their voter card and none of the poll staff noticed, throwing off the numbers for all the following voters. They were working to correct the problem as I left. Hope my vote gets counted!

  • From P.S. 32 in Carroll Gardens:
    I got to the booths at 8am hoping to beat the crowd. You step in, you tell the front desk your address and then they proceed to tell you to go to the back of the line, negating the fact that you need to go to the sign in desk then to the back of the line. Myself, along with about 5 other people in my vicinity realized this, only I went up to the sign in desk and asked them if i could sign my name and get back in my spot. The guy behind the sign in desk said "no, because we write down your number on this card here and that coincides with the number in the voting booth." It makes sense, but when you get to the back of the voting line, the people in front of you aren't the same people who signed in, in front of you. The 4 other people around me thought, "well how do they know if you signed in or not?" This raises a valid point, because when you sign your name (they don't even check ID), they just tell you to wait in a line 50-75 people long with no evidence showing you signed in. Those 4 other people stayed in line, didn't sign in and voted.

    Basically if you go to PS 32 in district 76 or 75, you can vote numerous times as they have no idea who signed in or not. Zero controls in place and people running the show have no idea what they're doing. I can only imagine how it is in other places.

    Waited for 90 minutes. Line at 9:30AM was 75+ people long for Disctrict 76. District 75 line was easily double.


  • From the Financial District:
    I vote at St. Margaret House at 49 Fulton St in the Financial District. Waited on line to vote for 3.5 hours this morning. Arrived around 9:20am and didn't leave until a bit before 1pm. Thankfully, my employer was understanding. Everyone seemed very determined and respectful, not one person gave up and left the line. That said, it was all kind of shocking. One person nearby said "Nobody lives in the Financial District, who are all these people??" The woman in front of me on line had been voting at that location for 20+ years and said she never has to wait more than 5 minutes, except in 2004, when she thinks it may have been 15 or 20 minutes. Also, not nearly enough poll workers around, who didn't seem to know as much about election laws and policies as I did.

    On a somewhat related note, few of the voters around me on line realized that our election machines and systems in New York are incredibly antiquated. Lever voting machines were supposed to be replaced, by Federal law, in 2004, and NYS got an extension until 2006. We are still using them in 2008! Incredibly pathetic.

Related to voting waiting time: MSNBC's Rachel Maddow questioned whether long lines for voting is a poll tax, when people must still go to their jobs on Election Day.

Other websites: NYC Board of Elections, NY State Board of Elections, NJ Division of Elections, and Connecticut Secretary of State. Barack Obama's website has information about voting in all states; John McCain's website requires you to enter your email address before proceeding to voter information.