Long lines test voters’ patience

by Mike Enright

Less than an hour before polls officially closed in Minnesota on Tuesday night, more than 130 Southeast Como residents – many of them students – waited for their turn to vote at Van Cleve Community Center.

Standing in a line that stretched outside the center’s doors, down the sidewalk and grew by the minute, English senior Dan Olmschenk estimated he would probably wait more than an hour and a half to cast his ballot.

His friend, political science senior Aaron Eisenberg, who planned to vouch for Olmschenk to verify his address, said the wait “will be worth it for democracy.”

But, “you owe me a drink,” he told Olmschenk.

Eileen Kilpatrick, chief election judge for Ward 2, Precinct 3, said the scene at Van Cleve resembled the 2004 presidential election. Despite the slow-moving line, there were no malfunctions with the precinct’s machinery, she said.

“No glitches, lots of voters,” Kilpatrick said.

Chelsea Fisher, an anthropology junior, said she couldn’t believe how many people were still waiting to vote.

“This is insane,” she said. “I didn’t think everyone else would also wait until the last minute.”

Fifth-year journalism student Elizabeth Aulwes, who works for an organization that aims to increase student voting rates, spent the night encouraging residents to be patient.

Aulwes said she waited about an hour to vote at noon, and that was when the line was still inside. By 7:30 p.m., half an hour before polls closed, the crowd nearly stretched to Rollins Avenue Southeast.