WASHINGTON -- Early anecdotal reports of turnout at polling places indicates higher than expected activity in urban areas, which could bode well for Democrats and undercut the narrative about an enthusiasm gap among progressives.
"I'm in Charlie Rangel's district," wrote Huffington Post reader Andrew H. "I've been voting at about the same time every year for the last twenty years. In a midterm election, I expect to get a voter card number in the low twenties. This morning I got number fifty-seven. This is by far the highest turnout I've ever seen in a midterm." Charlene B. voted at 6:00 a.m. when the polls opened in Harlem and although she said she was the first person in line, by the time she was done 10 minutes later, people were lining up at the door.
Voters in other areas downstate report similar turnout. By 9:00 a.m., there were already 132 voters at a polling place in north Brooklyn near Borough Hall, which Politico's Maggie Haberman calls "an impressively high number that early in the morning for a midterm race." HuffPost reader Tim B. in Brooklyn Heights also reported that when he voted at 10:30 a.m., it was "more crowded than I have ever seen it. ... It's gonna be crazy tonight!"
Another account from Alex T. in Brooklyn, who reported high turnout but several hiccups:
Just got back from the Swinging 60s Senior Center in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and at 8am it's already getting busy. With three voting districts packed in a tiny room, the line was getting jumbled and poll workers were rushing around trying to find out where everyone belonged. They were overheard complaining that everything is mixed up this year while those with voter registration cards and iPhones that could look up voter status were showing that they were registered while the dockets said otherwise. Several voters were getting very irritated as they were sent from table to table, even letting a few choice words fly. Others were even more upset to learn they hadn't been notified that their polling station had changed.
Once you finally got to the booths, it was so close to the next "privacy" screen that you could have easily looked into the next. Voters were complaining that they didn't know about the measures on the back and failed to vote before scanning their cards. As for scanning, the scanner for my district was broken so I had to find another in the vague direction of "that way". It was relatively painless for me, but there were more for whom this was obviously a trial. Here's hoping that they get their act together as the day ages.
HuffPost reader Carol in Chicago said that she voted a little before 7:00 a.m., and while she expected no one to be there, the location was actually "pretty full." Heavy turnout was also reported at 9:30 a.m. in the 10th congressional district of Illinois, which is made up of Chicago suburbs.
Tom C. from Pennsylvania's third congressional district, which includes the city of Erie, reported that he spoke with a poll worker Tuesday morning who said that turnout was already ahead of normal. "City of Erie is normally a Democrat location (both Kerry and Obama carried the city) while the surrounding county is heavily Republican," he wrote. "High turnout in the city is normally a good sign for Dems."
In Philadelphia, Democratic committeeperson Charles M. said that turnout in the southern part of the city, which is "a mix of blue collar, white collar, white, black, and Asian voters" is "surprisingly high." Frank in North Phoenix said that he arrived at his polling place at 6:00 a.m. when it opened, and he was "surprised at how many cars were in the parking lot. There was actually a line inside."
In Ohio, Jerry S. said that at his polling place in Cleveland turnout was "at least as high as the presidential election." In Milwaukee, more than 200 voters had cast ballots as of 9:45 a.m. in Ward 197, and in Tulsa, by 8:15 a.m. there were 97 ballots cast with all booths occupied and the location crowded.
"I voted straight Democratic ticket at 10:30am in the suburbs of Louisville, KY," reported Karen F. "I worked at the polls last year, and I expected that 300-400 voters would have voted by mid-morning -- but 750 had already voted! Louisville is predominantly Democrat, but here in the 'burbs, conservatives are the majority."
Daniel M., also from the Louisville area, wrote, "I went to my polling place in the Clifton neighborhood of Louisville, KY at about 8:15 this morning. The three precincts that vote at St. Leonard's Catholic Community usually have strong turnout, but this was even beyond what I saw in the 2008 election. I had no wait for my ballot (there are six lines, and my line is never long), but a 5 - 10 minute wait for a voting booth, even with extras set out."
Democrats, including President Obama, made an especially aggressive push in the final weeks of the midterm election season to energize young and urban voters who turned out heavily and were instrumental in the party's gains in 2008.