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Rain, dreary weather fail to deter voters, especially first-timers

In Elections

7:53 am on Tue, 11.06.12

Updated at 5:49 pm on Tue, 11.06.12

2 p.m., Washington University, St. Louis County

At Washington University, the South Forty polling place was filled with first time voters. The line was often out the door, snaking near the street, with reported waits up to an hour by the afternoon. The polling station actually ran out of paper ballots but continued to operate via electronic voting.

Ola Abiose
Ola Abiose

Students have been engaged in the election and trying to battle apathy in some of their peers, said Ola Abiose, president of Controversy 'N Coffee, a student group that catalyzes discussion of social and political issues. Abiose, whose absentee ballot will be counted in Ohio, said that that most people she knew voted. In one of her classes, a student said he didn't think his vote mattered, so he wasn't going to vote. The comment spurred a strong reaction from almost everyone within proximity of the student, Abiose recalled.

"At least you need to make your voice heard," Abiose, and others, told him. (Jason Schwartzman, Beacon intern)

1:40 p.m. Queen of All Saints, Oakville

For Oakville High School student Emily Roth, Tuesday's election was a picture-worthy occasion.

After casting her ballot for the first time in her life at Queen of All Saints in Oakville, Emily Roth’s mother – Jennifer Roth – snapped a picture of her daughter on her cell phone while walking up the ramp of the south St. Louis County religious institution.

political signs are planted near a
Jason Rosenbaum / Beacon staff
Political signs are planted near a "Respect Life" sign close to Queen of All Saints in Oakville. The church was a polling place.

"It was pretty cool," said Emily Roth, who cast her ballot with an electronic voting machine. "I'm glad I got to have a say in what happens where I live. I think that's really cool."

Both members of the Roth clan were in sync with their support of President Barack Obama, the Democratic president who Jennifer Roth said "deserves another four years to get his things done." Jennifer Roth said she also was spurred to vote by several propositions on the ballot, including one that would raise cigarette taxes to 90 cents a pack.

But it was the initiative petitions and constitutional amendments that caused some confusion for Bene Messmer, a 68-year-old Oakville resident who used to work for the Mehlville School District.

In fact, Messmer contended that officials "try to word that so they can trick people."

"I swear they do," Messmer said. "To be honest, I read them. And I re-read them. And I read them again. And even my husband was sitting there and put his two cents in. ... It's not [because] I'm 68 years old. I'm a young 68."

"I think the terminology could be so much easier," she added. "I mean, a lot of these older people get out there who are a lot worse than me. I've been a working person. I stay very active in a volunteer organization. So I'm always with it. But a lot of these poor people don't get out and use the knowledge that they have. It gets harder as you get older. They definitely have to make easier."

Ballot summaries – which are written by the secretary of state’s office – became a major issue of contention this election. Proponents of altering the Missouri nonpartisan court plan decided not to campaign after Secretary of State Robin Carnahan penned a summary that they said doomed the measure’s chances of passage.

Unlike the Roths, Messmer didn't disclose for whom she voted for president. "I will keep that to myself, thank you," she said with a laugh. (Jason Rosenbaum, Beacon staff.)

1:33 p.m., Wentzville Community Club, Wentzville

Fat drops of rain fell slowly in Wentzville around lunchtime but didn’t slow a steady pour of voters, who hunched up inside their coats on their way into the Wentzville Community Club.

As they headed in, they passed through the comfy smells of beef stew, which Akin volunteers Lisa and Dale Covington brought up from home. The two ate and talked with fellow volunteers as the rain slowed to a stop.

Rita Ploch of Wentzville didn’t wish to share how she voted but reported that things went pretty fast and she was happy to have participated.

Akin volunteer Lisa Covington tries to stay warm Tuesday at the Wentzville Community Club.
Kristen Hare / Beacon staff
Akin volunteer Lisa Covington tries to stay warm Tuesday at the Wentzville Community Club.

“I just think that we should vote,” said Ploch, who is retired. “It’s our right to vote and we should do it. If we don’t, we can’t complain.”

Nearby, Anthony Willis stood smoking a cigarette after voting. The 25-year-old Marine has served two tours in Iraq and two in Afghanistan under Democrats and Republicans, and he saw a difference.

“When you’re rotting in some desert somewhere and you can’t get basic supplies...you know what I’m saying?”

Willis, who voted a straight Republican ticket, heads back for another tour in the next month. He wasn’t sure how the day would turn out.

“I don’t have a lot of faith in America any more, to be honest.”

Adria Davis, 20, stepped outside a little later and smoothed the oval “I voted” sticker on to her sweatshirt. This was her first election, and she almost didn’t come.

Davis was afraid she’d make the wrong choice, she says, but her grandfather told her that she should vote. And she did, for Obama.

“If I do vote,” she told herself, “my vote does count.”

Wil Smith came out next, waiting for his son. Smith works as a DJ at night and drives vehicle for seniors during the day. On most issues, he voted libertarian when given the option but chose Obama for president.

“I think Barack Obama has to get a chance,” he said. “C’mon, four years, with what he was handed? C’mon.”

Tessa Grissom also voted for the first time today, and she voted for Obama. She couldn’t vote four years ago because she wasn’t old enough, Grissom said. She thinks the president has done a good job, “and I don’t like Romney, so.”

And Michael Baker came out just before one, hurrying into a car. Baker, who is unemployed, had to go home and get another document so he could vote, he said as he got into a waiting car.

Who would he choose?

“Probably Romney.” (Kristen Hare, Beacon staff)

12:45 p.m. St. Vincent de Paul, St. Louis

Lethsien Harris made a special effort to get to the polling place in La Salle Park. He had moved too recently for a change of address and the election officials told him he had to go back to St. Vincent’s parish hall to vote in this election.

Lethsien Harris
Donna Korando | Beacon staff
Lethsien Harris

He wasn’t going to skip it. This was his first presidential election, turning 18 just a little after Barack Obama was first elected.

Why make take the time to travel? “If you want something to go a certain way you’ve got to put forth the effort.” No matter what others say, Harris says, “Every vote counts.”

One person in the short line at St. Vincent’s said he had returned right after noon, because three lines ran the length of the polling area at 8 a.m.

12:44, Hazelwood Central High School, St. Louis County

Craig Schott waited in line for more than an hour before he got to cast his ballot early Tuesday afternoon, but he said the time was well worth it.

"It's the longest line I've ever stayed in to vote," he said. "But you can't bitch if you don't vote."

He said he was glad to see the campaign coming to an end because of the negativity involved, particularly in the commercials -- ads that he said didn't have much effect on the candidates he chose.

"I had my own opinions," Schott said. "The commercials didn't influence me. I kept surfing to avoid them."

What he will miss the least, he added, are the robocalls. "They should be illegal."

Also voting at Hazelwood Central were Billie and Francine Bollinger, who were equally glad that the political season is over, at least for a while. The ads have gotten worse, they said.

"They don't tell the truth," Billie said. "I hate that. If they deliberately lie, they should at least apologize."

For some of the races, he added, he had to hold his nose and "vote for the lesser of two evils."

Added Francine: "I can't believe the ads I see. Each party contradicts the other party. You just have to read and make up your own mind."

And, Billie said, he was tired of the racism he sees as a part of the political process.

"If he hadn't been black," he said of President Barack Obama, "he would have been elected in a landslide." (Dale Singer, Beacon staff)

12:32 p.m., Saint Louis University, St. Louis

The ebb and flow of voters making their way to the polling place at Saint Louis University’s Busch Student Center seemed to follow the schedule of classes, as many of the voters were SLU students.  At times, the line stretched out the door and down the hall.  During other time periods, only a dozen or so voters filled the polling place.

Community members and students alike were directed through the polls and awarded with an “I Voted” sticker by a number of volunteers who kept the process moving efficiently.  Wolf Howard, a junior at Saint Louis University, said his first time voting went extremely smoothly, and the overall process was easy and enjoyable.

Polling place at Saint Louis University.
Elizabeth Bartek / Beacon intern
Polling place at Saint Louis University.

Howard saidhe did not like either of the main presidential candidates, so he opted to vote mostly for Libertarian candidates.  He cited the economy as a big influence on his voting.

When asked if he thought a lot of students would come out to vote today, Howard said he hoped they would, since a polling place on campus makes voting all the more accessible for students.

“It will be sad if they didn’t [come out to vote] because it was the easiest voting will get,” Howard said. 

Certainly some students are passionate about getting out the vote, as election signs fill the buildings, political messages are chalked on sidewalks, watch parties are planned around campus and political rants and raves seem to have taken over social media sites. (Elizabeth Bartek, Beacon intern)

12:30 p.m., Knights of Columbus, Fairview Heights

Al Peterson
Al Peterson
Sondra Carrollcinque
Sondra Carrollcinque

A light but cold rain wasn’t going to keep Sondra Carrollcinque from voting during her lunch hour in Fairview Heights.

“I never miss a vote,’’ said Carrollcinque from under the protection of a colorful umbrella.

Election Judge Al Peterson says he had been impressed with heavy turnout at the polling place that serves voters from two Caseyville precincts and two St. Clair Township precincts.

Peterson said voters were waiting outside when the doors opened at 6 a.m. and have been streaming in steadily all day. By noon, about 1,200 ballots had been cast; in a nonpresidential election year the polling place will see 1,500 all day.
(Mary Delach Leonard, Beacon staff)

12:10 p.m., Airport Elementary School, Berkeley

When Angela Whitman showed up before dawn -- and before the polls opened -- at Airport School early Tuesday morning, the line was already long. The polls opened at 6; she said she voted around 8.

Shortly after noon, the wait time had been cut way down, to about 30 minutes. The school had only a few signs and no poll workers to greet those who showed up to cast their ballots.

Voters who stopped to chat afterward said they were tired of all the campaign ads and were confident their candidates would win.

"It's been stressful," Kelly Witley said of the campaign. He sported a pair of "I Voted" stickers on his shirt.

At age 20, Will Cozart was casting a vote for the first time. "I feel like I made a difference," he said.

And why was Whitman back at the polls around noon if she voted first thing in the morning? She was looking ahead to another possible election -- talking to voters, gathering signatures on a petition against Berkeley Mayor Theodore Hoskins.

"I'm a newbie," she said. "I'm new to Berkeley. But I've been here long enough to know I don't like the mayor." (Dale Singer, Beacon staff)

11:40 a.m., Bridgeton Community Center, Bridgeton

A steady light rain began falling late Tuesday morning to greet voters in Bridgeton, along with a long parade of campaign signs for various candidates and a couple of workers shielding themselves from the weather and handing out campaign literature.

The line inside lasted less than half an hour -- far shorter than when the polls first opened.

Like many fellow voters, Steve and Ruth Keller said they were unhappy with the lack of real information about candidates and issues that campaign advertisements provided. Instead, they said, they researched things for themselves.

Were they confident their candidates would win? They shrugged and said it was probably a tossup. (Dale Singer, Beacon staff)

11:05 a.m., Mathews Dickey Boys and Girls Club, St. Louis

Across town at the Mathews Dickey Boys and Girls Club on North Kingshighway, voter activity did in fact seem rather low.  But a campaign sheet being handed out by a poll worker must have caught some voters by surprise.

The sheet had photos and information about candidates for president, along with photos and information about the candidates for U.S. Senate and governor. Next to the photos of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill were check marks made with a felt pen. But – this is not a misprint – a check was also made next to GOP gubernatorial candidate David Spence, not incumbent Jay Nixon. That seemed  a surprise in this Democratic stronghold in north city.

The worker handing out the sheet explained that the checks were added before “they” gave the sheets to her to distribute outside the polling site. “They” turned out to be Minorities for Dave Spence, housed in a store front office, sandwiched between Tayler Made Barbershop and Galaxy Nails and situated at the western end of the block containing one of McCaskill’s office.

Inside the Spence office was a staff of African-American campaign workers preparing information for campaign workers. The leader of the operation is Lance McCarthy, who says he’s a political consultant.  The strategy, he says, is to split the black vote in the governor’s race.

“I feel that people are looking for new direction. Black voters and others can identify with Dave who already has a track record for hiring about 60 percent of African Americans for his business.  We think this office can help split the (minority voter) turnout.”

Spence supporter Jazzy the dog.
Robert Joiner / Beacon staff
Spence supporter Jazzy the dog.

He says his campaign is targeting north St. Louis, north St. Louis County and black churches by discussing issues important to many African Americans – foreclosures, unemployment, education, violence and HIV/AIDS.

The central message, he says, is an appeal to the spiritual with this comment: “It is our responsibility as Christians not to consider party lines when we go to the polls but God’s principles.”

There’s no overlooking one of the Spence supporter in the office, a dog named Jazzy. It sported a Spence wrap around its body as it moved about the office, greeting anyone who’d give it attention. Just like a politician. (Robert Joiner, Beacon staff)

10:57 a.m. Precinct 6, O'Fallon, Ill.

Rick and Karen Young brought their three young children with them to vote at Faith Lutheran Church and then captured their Election Day adventure with a family photograph.

Rick Young, 36, is a U.S. Air Force navigator stationed at Scott Air Force Base. The Young children -- Nathaniel, 7; Rachel, 5, and Abigail, 1 – were rewarded with voting stickers by the precinct election judges.

"We think it's important to teach our kids the importance of voting and participating. And the best way to understand the process is to come with us and watch,’’ said Karen Young.

Rick and Karen Young teach their three children the importance of voting.
Rick and Karen Young teach their three children the importance of voting. Photo by Mary Delach Leonard.

Sandy Gross, who has been working as an election judge for 15 years, described voter turnout as excellent. About 220 precinct residents had voted by mid-morning, about one-fifth of the 1,009 registered.

Voter Ellyn Hebden, 62, predicted a close final vote in the 12th District congressional race between Republican Jason Plummer and Democrat Bill Enyart. She said that while the presidential races attract the most attention, she believes the congressional races will have the most impact on the nation.

Hebden said she researches candidates thoroughly on her own and wasn’t swayed by the deluge of political advertising.

“Pat Boone called me asking me to vote,” said Hebden with a smile.

The singer’s recorded call was in support of Plummer, but Hebden said it didn’t affect her vote one way or the other because her mind was already made up.

“He didn’t sing,” she added. (Mary Delach Leonard, St. Louis)

10:55 a.m., Mann School, St. Louis

More than 100 people with more streaming in at Mann School, 4047 Juniata, in south St. Louis city, Still, some lines are only a few people deep.
More than 100 people are in line, with more streaming in at Mann School, 4047 Juniata, in St. Louis.
Tyler Mork
Nancy Fowler | Beacon staff
Tyler Mork

Tyler Mork takes his 3-month old twins, Elliot and Rowan, to the polls for their first election. Mork, who had already voted, stands by while his wife waits in line. "I have to get their 'I voted' stickers on them," he said, applying a sticker to each tiny future voter's chest.

The twins will vote in their first presidential election in 2032.

Does having kids affect the way Mork thinks about the election? "The way I thought before I had children encompassed the future of our country. It hasn't changed now that I have children." (Nancy Fowler, Beacon staff)

10:41 a.m., Columns Banquet Center, St. Charles

Mid-morning, Ashley Plummer and his wife, Patsie, of St. Charles, stepped out of the Columns Banquet Center in St. Charles, “I voted,” stickers stuck on their coats.

Four years ago, the couple voted for Obama, and this morning, they did again.

The president stepped into his job with tough times already underway, said Ashley Plummer, who works in construction. But Romney? "I don’t think I can trust that guy," he said.

Plummer, who voted early this morning, came back mid-morning to bring his wife, who works in education.

He wasn’t sure about the president's chances for reelection, though. Black voters, like the Plummers, were solidly voting for Obama, Plummer said. Where the president will have trouble, Plummer thought, is with white males.

He also voted for Sen. Claire McCaskill today, Plummer said.

“I hope she wins,” he said, remembering Akin’s comments on "legitimate rape." “I just can’t get over that. I have two daughters and a wife. No.”

Akin was also on the minds of another couple who stepped out moments later.

Judy and Ralph Burns of St. Charles recently retired. He worked for the federal government, and she for Boeing. The couple never votes a straight ticket, they said, and they don’t always vote the same.

But they both voted for McCaskill.

The elusive Logan Bates.
Kristen Hare / Beacon staff
The elusive Logan Bates.

“His views on reproductive rights, I think he actually believes that stuff,” Ralph Burns said.

Four years ago, he voted for McCain, and this morning, for Romney. His wife chose Obama both times.

“I’m not gonna get too elated or despondent, regardless of who wins,” he said.

“I’m not either,” his wife said.

Nearby, the cold may have been Logan Bates' biggest concern. The 5-year-old St. Charles boy sat with his family, who was holding up signs for Eugene Dokes, candidate for state representative.

Bates sat hidden under a bright red St. Louis Cardinals blanket, from his head, to his Lighting McQueen jacket, to his toes.

How did he feel about the election this morning? Did he know what was going on? Who did he support?

Sadly, he was too cold to comment. (Kristen Hare, Beacon staff)

10:30 a.m., Missouri School for the Blind, St Louis

Experiencing its heaviest traffic at the poll’s 6 a.m. opening, the Missouri School for the Blind was still drawing a diverse crowd of voters by 10:30 a.m. Seniors from the nearby Tower Grove Manor Retirement Community arrived by bus.

Bus driver Margaret O’Shaughnessy made sure voters from nearby retirement home arrived safely.
Jason Schwartzmann / Beacon intern
Bus driver Margaret O’Shaughnessy made sure voters from nearby retirement home arrived safely.

Mostly in their 90s, they trekked toward the entrance in wheelchairs and walkers. Their bus driver, former St. Louis police officer Margaret O’Shaughnessy, said that the retirement community provided the bus service for residents unable to get there on their own.

Nora Ryan, a member of the 8th Ward Independent Democratic Association, has been handing out sample ballots since 6:30 a.m. All of her organization's endorsements, arrived at by a blind vote, are documented on the sample ballots. But perhaps her most important function has been to direct adrift potential voters toward the subtle entranceway.

At around 10:15, a volunteer began seeking petitions for St. Louis’ sustainable energy future ballot initiative, which calls for the divestment of taxpayer dollars from fossil fuel companies like Peabody Energy.

At 10am, the ballot count registered a total of 508 votes. At any one time, there were around 40 voters inside with a consistent flow of newcomers. (Jason Schwartzman, Beacon intern)

10 a.m. Parkway West Middle School, Chesterfield

A twisting line was slowly being added onto in the hallway outside the Parkway West library.

A long string of twine and metal stanchions separated the entrance and exit lines, making the school feel more like a movie's midnight release than a polling place. Teachers and school faculty moved back and forth delivering coffee and directions to the voting staff, and an officer from the Chesterfield police department sat just inside the schools entrance giving instructions to voters.

The officer, Sanda Smajlovic, said earlier on the morning Chesterfield PD officers assisted with the traffic flow. After sorting out the influx of three grade levels on school buses, parents and voters, Smajlovic said the officers’ attention was focused inside the school, making sure no lost adults where wandering around the school without a good reason.

"Our main concern is the students," Smajlovic said.

Jeannie Phillips
Dan Fox | Beacon intern
Jeannie Phillips

Jeannie Phillips said that the wait to vote wasn’t nearly as long as it was in 2008.

"I dont know if that’s a good or bad thing," Phillips said. In the line, Phillips said that her fellow voters had seemed happy and optimistic.

The mother of three said she did feel more comfortable voting where her kid goes to school, but it doesn’t bother her where she votes. "You feel patriotic coming out and voting," Phillips said. (Dan Fox, Beacon intern)

9:30 a.m., Affton Community Center, St. Louis County

Four years ago, St. Louis County resident James Ginger cast his presidential ballot for then-U.S. Sen. Barack Obama.

But after walking out of the Affton Community Center on Tuesday, Ginger changed course and voted for GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. Ginger, who is retired, said many things caused him to abandon his support for the   Democratic president.

"The economy, just the state of everything," said Ginger, when asked why he switched to Romney. "This health-care law that's being forced up on us. And the fear of what could be in the next four years."

Patrick McShehy, a construction worker who also voted for Romney, said he was spurred to vote by the fact that "when I grew up, America was a strong, powerful country and now it's lacking in everything."

McShehy liked Romney's background. "For president, you've got a guy that's been successful in business. The only bad stuff that's ever been said about him was what was reported from the other campaign," he said. "If you do your independent research, he's a great man. He gives away a third of his money to charities and organizations."

Not everybody agreed with Ginger and McShehy. Attorney Liz Warren, for instance, said she voted for Obama, spurred on by her interest in women's rights and the right to organize.

While Nick Wanko said no particular races got him energized, he said he
"voted all Democrat."

South St. Louis County is considered a swing area split relatively evenly between the two parties. The performance of statewide candidates here could be a harbinger for the rest of the state.

The largely unincorporated part of the county is ground zero for competitive state legislative contests, including the one between state Sen. Jim Lembke, R-Lemay, and state Rep. Scott Sifton, D-Affton. Volunteers for both candidates in the highly competitive 1st Senatorial District handed out literature to voters.

The U.S. Senate contest between U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Wildwood, loomed large. When asked if she was more energized to vote than in 2008, Warren said, "Yes, more so to vote for Claire McCaskill than the presidential race."

Ginger, though, said he was one voter who had doubts about Akin but decided to cast a ballot for him anyway.

"I was ready to dump Todd Akin, but I changed my mind," Ginger said. "Again, it was the fear factor on how powerful Claire's gotten. Probably had the election been three weeks or a month ago, I would probably would have voted for her. ... I just decided he would be better." (Jason Rosenbaum, Beacon staff)

9:30 a.m., spotted along Morganford, St. Louis

What's red, white and blue and scary? No, not just campaign attack ads but also a 30-or-so-foot-tall inflatable gorilla between The Haven Fine Foods, 6625 Morganford in south St. Louis city and a residence next door.
Nancy Fowler | Beacon staff
What's red, white and blue and scary? No, not just campaign attack ads but also a 30-or-so-foot-tall inflatable gorilla between The Haven Fine Foods, 6625 Morganford in St. Louis and a residence next door.

9:15 a.m., Barr Branch Library, St. Louis

Appearances can be deceiving on Election Day. Some polling sites look relatively quiet but are quite busy. At the polling site behind Barr Branch Library on the south side, for example, both Democratic and Republican judges reported brisk voter activity.

Erthalyne Moore, the Democratic supervisor, pointed to a diminishing book of paper ballots and said, “We’ve used six of these (books) so far. We don’t usually use more than two. So we’ve been pretty busy.” (Robert Joiner, Beacon staff)

8:15 a.m. Crossroads Elementary School, O’Fallon

Voters hurried in from the chilly morning, but they didn’t hurry out. It took some up to an hour, but the typical time was around 30 minutes. That’s longer than it took Cynthia Weber, O’Fallon, four years ago.

“I’m hoping that it’s more voter turnout,” said Weber, who works in marketing. “That would be the positive perspective.”

Weber voted for President Barack Obama today, as she did four years ago. But she’s not sure how the race will turn out. “I think it’s gonna be a very close race, and I’m worried about when we’ll find out,” she said. “I worry if it’s going to be today or two months from now.”

She said she was a single mother for 10 years and understands the importance of good health care. “That’s one tax I don’t mind paying for,” she said. “That goes directly back into our country.”

A few moments later, Faith Barnes stepped out of the warm school and back into the cold day. 

She voted this morning, she said, out of responsibility and privilege, and to stop the moral decline. Barnes, who lives in O’Fallon and works as a development director, voted for Obama four years ago. This morning, she voted for Gov. Mitt Romney. Four years ago, Obama seemed so charismatic, and she liked his plan for the economy and his message of change. He’s not a bad guy, she says, but this time, she liked Romney and felt his own conservative values were closer to her own.

Like Weber, Barnes wasn’t sure how things would turn out, but with all the passion she’s seen people expressing on Facebook, she feared things could get ugly either way the day went. (Kristen Hare, Beacon staff)

8:05 a.m., Hamilton School, St. Louis

Laurel Street at Westminster Place is virtually free of automobiles on most of the time but not on Tuesday morning. Voters parked along the street and headed for the election site at Hamilton School. On a chilly morning, many of them stood patiently in a line that stretched outside of the building.

Eliot Miller
Robert Joiner / Beacon staff
Eliot Miller

One was Eliot Miller, a Ph.D. candidate in ecology at the University of Missouri. He had showed up on his bicycle, thinking he’d be in and out in no time to continue his trip to UMSL.

“It took me about 45 minutes to vote,” he says, “but I’m not complaining because it’s important for the middle class in particular to give voice to issues in this election. They need to come out and speak up about economic issues, global warming and other social issues.” (Robert Joiner, Beacon staff)

8 a.m., Oak Hill School, St. Louis

More future voters than actual ones this morning.
Nancy Fowler | Beacon staff
More future voters than actual ones this morning.

8 a.m., Green Pines Elementary, Chesterfield

The line to vote stretched out of the gymnasium and wound out into the hall. Many in the line were parents who brought their kids. Inside, the children played on the gym's stage while the adults stood in a quiet line.

At stations to use the paper ballot, for which there was no line, some kids occasionally ran up and stood on their toes to see what their parents were doing.

A representative for gubernatorial candidate Dave Spence, one of two campaign workers outside the school, said people had seemed in a generally good mood as they headed into the school and most seemed to be keeping an open mind as she offered information on her candidate. (Dan Fox, Beacon intern)

7:25 a.m., St. Louis Activity Center, St. Louis 

The Chappells
The Chappells

Ms. Chappell and her daughter Madison had their photo snapped just after voting at the St. Louis Activity Center, 5602 Arsenal St., where there was no waiting.

"It was easier than going to the grocery store," Chappell said. President Barack Obama is her choice in the presidential election. "I'm hopeful," she said.

Will Madison vote when she's 18? "I guess so," she said. (Nancy Fowler, Beacon staff)

7:15 a.m., Lindenwood Baptist Church, St. Louis

A row of campaign signs for various candidates and parties stood in the tree lawn, but the two Obama/Biden signs were flat on the grass. The large white front doors of the church were closed and without signs.

Sign and basket of buttons at New City School polling place.
Sally Altman/Beacon staff
Sign and basket of buttons at New City School polling place.

A standard "VOTE HERE" sign unhelpfully directed me to the mostly empty parking lot with no obvious entrance. Toward the back of the parking lot, a campaign worker wearing a shirt promoting Jason Kander gave me a party ballot cheat sheets and thanked me for coming to vote. When I peered around the back corner of the church, he said helpfully, "Just over there...they don't make it easy," gesturing toward the back door.

I saw eight other voters at the polling place: two leaving and two voting as I came in, two arriving while I cast my ballot and two arriving as I left. (Brent Jones, Beacon presentation editor)

7 a.m., Lake Saint Louis

A light fog rose over Lake Saint Louis early Tuesday morning. Down one street, a sign for Sen. Claire McCaskill, one for her rival, Rep. Todd Akin, and this one.

Kristen Hare | Beacon staff

9:30 p.m. Mon., Nov. 5 - SIUE

Students in Beacon reporter Mary Delach Leonard’s news writing class at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville got a taste of political coverage Monday evening, as they produced a pre-election story about voting. Here is an edited version of their story:

By Ryan Huffer and Lauren Winkeler, for the Beacon

On the evening before the 2012 presidential election, students interviewed at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville said the nation’s struggling economy and health care were driving their votes, while others remained undecided.

Students Lauren Winkeler and Ryan Huffer work on a pre-election story in a mass communications class Monday evening at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
Mary Delach Leonard | Beacon staff
Students Lauren Winkeler and Ryan Huffer work on a pre-election story in a mass communications class Monday evening at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Matt Hamel, 20, a psychology major from Winnebago, Ill., said he had already voted for Republican candidate Mitt Romney. “I voted because this election will directly impact me and my opportunities for a job after college,” said Hamel.

Senior Sarah Borlee, an elementary education major from Bridgeview, Ill., said she voted for Democrat Barack Obama because she believes Romney is too extreme in some aspects. “There are problems I have with both candidates this election, but when it comes to Romney’s plans for the next four years I feel like it would be easier for Obama to solve certain social issues than for Romney to attempt to change the major economic ones,” Borlee said.

Heather Ficek, 24, of Homer Glen, Ill., said she had voted absentee for Romney because she believes in his economic plan. “Obama had four years to make a difference in our country and all he did was put us further in debt by instituting a health-care plan the majority of the country, myself included, doesn't want,” she said.

But Ally Howell, 20, a junior from Bloomington, Ill., she is voting for Obama because of his health-care policies. "Being a nursing major, I want good health care for my patients when I become a nurse," she said.

Freshman Katie DeAvilla, 18, of O’Fallon, Mo., who is concerned about health care, abortion and Social Security, said she will be voting for Gary Johnson, the Libertarian presidential candidate.

“I look for a candidate who seems to be confident in what they stand for and know what they are talking about,” said DeAvilla, a pre-pharmacy major. 

Some students said they were still making up their minds.

Junior Kaitlyn Wenke, 20, a mass communications major from Belleville, said she was still undecided but leaning more left than right. “The country has more stability with Obama than Romney,” she said.

Maxwell Suits, a 23-year-old senior from Elmhurst, Ill., said he is disappointed in the candidates of both major political parties.

“I don’t think either of them will be able to help the country. So I am going to vote, but going to write in my vote for Mickey Mouse,” said Suits who is majoring in psychology.

Suits said Obama should not get a second term because he has added debt and seems to be more worried about sports than running the country.

“Romney says he has a plan, but I cannot figure out what the plan exactly is. Also, he wants to cut spending on parts that do not need to be cut,” Suits said.

Freshman John Basso, an 18-year-old civil engineering major from Chicago, plans on voting because he is of age and because he has the freedom to do so.

“After I vote I think I will feel very accomplished,” Basso said.

Also contributing to this report: Emma Adkisson, Shelby Cunningham, Michael Fox, Matthew Gabalis, Lauren Haines, Quinn Luehring, Jeren Mcghee, Alex Menke, Nathan Pierce, Elizabeth Storey and Rainee Williams.


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