Long lines at Ala. polling sites

Published 8:00 am Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Polling places across Alabama opened to long lines on election day, and the state appeared on its way to setting a record for turnout.

Secretary of State Beth Chapman visited polling places in Montgomery and Shelby counties that had hundreds of people in line when the doors opened at 7 a.m. Tuesday. She said they were typical of what was happening statewide.

Voters started lining up at Vaughn Park Church of Christ in Montgomery about 5 a.m. and an estimated 300 were in line when the poll opened at 7 a.m. There were several hundred people lined up when the polls opened at the Montgomery Museum of Art.

At Valleydale Baptist Church in Shelby County, the parking lot was completely full by the time the polls opened.

In Birmingham, as many as 1,000 people were standing in line to vote when the polls opened at Legion Field. The line stretched all the way from the stadium to Graymont Avenue and down the street through a parking lot.

A few blocks away from the stadium, another long line wrapped around an elementary school where people were voting.

Voters brought lawn chairs, snacks and books to read while they waited in line. People were generally in a good mood. Chapman said there were no early problems reported with either the long lines or equipment.

The polls close at 7 p.m.

Chapman is anticipating a turnout between 79 percent and 81 percent. That would top the old record of 76 percent in 1992.

Chapman said her optimism stems, in part, from record absentee voting. She said absentee voting was up 20 to 25 percent throughout the state. The state also set a voter registration record, topping 3 million for the first time.