For presidential candidates, it’s a long road to the White House. But for voters on Super Tuesday, the road to the ballot box seemed even longer.
“You walked inside and there were people everywhere,” said Kate Trudell of Farragut. “The line snaked back and forth across the room. There were people sitting in chairs because they’d waited so long. Moms holding babies – it was just crazy. People everywhere.”
Trudell’s polling location was at Farragut High School. She said she and her husband waited for 45 minutes, then had to leave to pick up their children. She was disappointed she didn’t get to vote. Some voters waited two to three hours, she said.
“No, I’ve never seen anything like this before,” said Trudell.
Administrator of Elections for Knox County Clifford Rodgers said the long lines were the product of a perfect storm, so to speak. High voter turnout – around 42 percent of all registered voters – combined with a lengthy Republican ballot meant things moved slowly.
Rodgers said between 25 percent and 30 percent of all votes were cast early, but he wishes that number were higher.
“The cure for long lines on election day is to vote early,” he said. “It’s why they changed the law.”
Rodgers said his office was inundated with calls from people trying to find their assigned polling location.
Other issues cropped up at smaller voting sites – SOAR Youth Ministries and West Haven School briefly ran their voting machines on battery power after a lightning strike, and a South Knoxville site faced several hours of delays after a mechanical breakdown.
To remedy the delays in November, Rodgers said he has already requested 50 more voting machines – and plans to add more. But at $3000 each, it’s no small acquisition.
“I think it’s a great idea to buy more machines,” said Trudell. “With the ballot being that long, people definitely need the time to cast their vote in an appropriate way.”
Rodgers said they anticipate an even higher turnout for the general election in November – somewhere around 65 percent participation from registered voters.