It took me 17 minutes to vote. A normal person would have taken 10, tops

The Quail Hollow precinct, at 8:21 a.m.

The Quail Hollow precinct, at 8:21 a.m.

Well, so much for the long lines that had been anticipated at Lexington County polling places, partly because of the plethora of referenda on the ballot.

From the time I got out of my car until the time I got back into it, 17 minutes passed. I figure at least seven of those were due to:

  1. My obsessive carefulness about voting. I’ve always been this way, since my first time voting in 1972 (I stood in the booth agonizing over the fact that I saw Nixon as an abuser of power, and McGovern as an incompetent, and trying to decide which was least bad). Once, in the days of actual booths with curtains, a poll worker asked, “Are you all right in there, sir?” When we used punch cards, I would put the card in and take it out a couple of times to make sure it was aligning properly, then take the completed ballot out, make sure the numbers next to all the holes corresponded to the numbers of the candidates I had meant to vote for, then run my hand up and down the back of the card a couple of times to make sure there were no bits of cardboard stuck there (this was before I knew they were called “chads”), and hold it up to the light to make sure all the punches were clean and complete. To this day, I find it absolutely inconceivable that anyone in Florida could have inadvertently voted for the wrong person in 2000. I always made sure. (And I preferred the cards to electronic machines because there was a physical thing proving how I’d voted.)
  2. The fact that the machine offered me two chances to go back and check — when it offered a summary of how I’d voted, and when it asked me to make sure that the races I’d left blank were intentionally left that way. I went back and reviewed everything both times, and then once more before hitting “confirm.” I take my vote very seriously.
  3. I took pictures of the how-I-voted summary pages, so I could remember how I voted, and not only for blogging purposes.
  4. When I initially got back to my car, I realized I hadn’t gotten an “I Voted” sticker, so I went back for one.

Then, of course, there was the small matter of making 27 separate voting decisions. Sure, I’d already made up my mind on most, but I took a little “are you sure?” couple of seconds on most of them.

Some stats and trivia:

  • I voted for three Democrats, seven Republicans, and one member of the new “American Party.”
  • I voted a straight State newspaper ticket, where applicable (they endorsed in some S.C. House races other than mine, and did not endorse in any of the Lexington County referenda).
  • I voted “yes” on four of the five referendum questions, and “no” on the other.
  • I left seven places blank, including, of course, the execrable, contemptible straight-party option, which should not be allowed under the law. Most of these involved unopposed people, but some involved competition between candidates with whom I was unfamiliar. And my standard rule, which I only occasionally break (see next bullet), is not to vote when I’m unsure of the candidates.
  • I voted for myself as a write-in for Congress. I had to choose three candidates for Lexington Two school board. I was not familiar with any of them. I wrote in my wife and my Dad (my Dad actually ran for the board once, many years ago), and the guy who had shaken my hand outside the polling place. That was my one whimsical, irresponsible, uninformed, against-my-own-rules vote. He had an honest face.

Overall, it went smoothly. There were three people in line to sign in ahead of me when I walked up, and one of those was gone before I could get out my phone and shoot the picture above. I had been handed several sheets of paper with explanations of the referenda, supposedly so I could study them in line, but I had no time in line even to glance at them.

The picture ID thing afforded me no trouble, beyond the hassle of digging it out of my wallet.

So how’d it go for you?

I had to go back for it, but I got my sticker.

I had to go back for it, but I got my sticker.

69 thoughts on “It took me 17 minutes to vote. A normal person would have taken 10, tops

  1. Bryan Caskey

    No problems at Ward 25 this morning. I was there around 8:45 and was signature 190-something, I think. I voted for Doug for Lt. Governor.

    Seemed like lots of of people running unopposed for school board. Since it appears to be so lucrative, maybe I should do that. (just kidding)

  2. Karen Pearson

    I voted quickly and easily this morning, but was pleased to see that there was a steady trickle of voters.

  3. Kathryn Fenner

    Between Nixon and McGovern, one decided WHO was LESS bad. Now, if one included Wallace (not a human), which and least works. –Ms Language-Person

    I just voted at the senior center. More than 300 had voted. I got right in, zero waiting, and, shock, did not vote a straight ticket. I voted for Alan Wilson, for the reasons Doug cited, Graham because he’s getting so much flak from the right, Tim Scott–he’s okay, Molly Spearman, b/c The State, and Emile DeFelice, again, for the reasons Doug cited. No for raffles–gambling is bad, period, yes for no voting for Adj Gen–and I also declined to vote for any office I thought should not be an elected one, except Ag Comm (because Emile) and Lt. Gov., or for anyone about whom I had no opinion.

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      and I found out I am now in Paul Livingston’s County Council District, instead of Seth Rose’s, like my neighbors.
      Speaking of gerrymandering…

        1. Kathryn Fenner

          Trying to find a District 3 City Council candidate…so far, we have no one willing to run….

    2. Bart

      Like you, I did not vote a straight ticket. However, due to my lovely wife’s health issues, we voted early. I was able to really take my time and think through my decisions before voting.

      And, I voted for many of the same people you did and probably for the same reasons. There were some Democrats I voted for along with some Republicans.

      It will be interesting to see how the Senate and House make-up will be after today. If Republicans take the Senate and if they don’t take the opportunity to do something POSITIVE and not continue to harp on issues that should be left up to the individual and states, maybe, just maybe our government can move forward. But, I won’t hold my breath.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        I hate to be a pessimist, but they are not expected to do anything positive after taking over the Senate.

        Neither the GOP nor the Democrats RAN on anything positive. It was all about trying to scare the voters about how awful the OTHER party is…

      1. Silence

        I’m sure there’s a way to abuse a church raffle. It applies to other non-religious non-profit organizations, too, ya know.

        1. Bryan Caskey

          I’m going to be absolutely shocked if that amendment doesn’t overwhelmingly pass. I’m thinking 90/10. Heck, the legislature has already passed the law. This is just the final box to check.

          But maybe I’m just a crazy right-winger who’s cool with churches and historic preservation societies selling raffle tickets and using the proceeds for charitable purposes, all while the whole thing is regulated by state law.

          Anarchy, I tell ya.

    3. Bryan Caskey

      You voted that non-profits couldn’t conduct raffles to raise money for charitable purposes?


      We’re talking about churches selling tickets for cake walks, not opening up Caesar’s Palace.


      1. Kathryn Fenner

        Still, gambling is gambling. I don’t like it. Can churches open cocaine emporia, because after all, they aren’t the Medellin Cartel?

            1. Kathryn Fenner

              Especially wrapping paper–I give liquor or Paypal money (to those who are too young for liquor)

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          I don’t like it, either. I reluctantly voted for it because I had read how carefully it had been worked out, how much charitable organizations need it, etc. Apparently, a lot of folks had worked hard to make it a good law.

          I still have a bad taste in my mouth from when I lived in Jackson, TN, and my kids attended Catholic schools, and all parents were expected to take a turn every few months working the weekly high-stakes bingo games. It was a nightmare scene, and not just because there was so much cigarette smoke I couldn’t breathe. Hundreds of people would turn out, and some of the prizes amounted into the hundreds of dollars.

          We always had bigger crowds on the weekends after welfare and Social Security checks came. I thought it was obscene.

          But I know most church raffles aren’t like that…

  4. Norm Ivey

    It was such a pleasant morning that my bride and I walked to the polling place–about a half mile. Took us about 3 minutes to vote after we got there. They had about a dozen machines, which I think is more than they had last national election. Voted for candidates left, right and center, with the RSD2 School Board members probably the only one with any uncertainty about the outcome.

    We’re off today because the schools are used as polling places. We shared a sandwich and a beer at East Coast Pizzeria and bought and hung a spice rack in the pantry. It’s been a good day.

    1. Mark Stewart

      Considering the numbers of churches, etc. one would think we could let the kids go to school on Election Day. It is bizarre to have every kind iced for the day. The schools aren’t needed as polling places.

      1. Norm Ivey

        I was talking with a NC transplant, and he was telling me that the schools in his area (Wilmington?) remained open and were used as polling places.

  5. Silence

    I’ll vote after work. Going to vote for:
    Graham & Scott
    Kevin Umbaugh
    Alan Wilson
    Emile DeFelice
    Kyle Herbert (can’t bring myself to vote for Eckstrom)
    Mark Hammond
    Against Todd Rutherford
    for the raffles
    against making the AG an appointed office.
    Dan Johnson
    I’ll write in somone against Paul Livingston
    Amy McCulloch
    I’ll write in someone against David Adams

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Among candidates, you and I agreed on eight, disagreed on three.

      I’m kinda shaking my head here over your votes FOR Haley and against the AG change, but I choose to celebrate our many agreements…

      1. Silence

        Well, unless something major happens, we won’t agree on Haley/Sheheen. I view her as the less-bad candidate, and I don’t think she’s actually doing a bad job. Things could always be better, though.

        Re: The Adjutant General’s race, I didn’t feel like it really made much difference either way, and I’m pretty familiar with that office. I vote to keep it as is simply to be different than the other 49 states. Plus, I figured an elected official can be crummy just as easy as an appointed political hack can, or vice versa.

    2. Kathryn Fenner

      I definitely voted against Eckstrom. I declined to vote for Paul Livingston–if I had known Silence was in the district, I would have written him in. I guess my non-vote is silence…
      What’s your beef with Amy McCulloch?

  6. scout

    My husband and I were numbers 66 and 67 at the Lutheran church on 378 – Saluda River Precinct at about 8:30 and we had no wait. I didn’t time it but I tend to be overly careful about my choices and took a bit longer than my husband did. I voted a combination of democrats and republicans and one american party and left some blank – but I didn’t count them up. I learned a new word – eleemosynary. Who knew? I was allowed to pick 3 school board people – but they were “trustees” – what is the difference there? I picked the guy who bothered to write a letter like a normal human and mail it to me because I took from his letter that he values clear communication which I do too. My husband was also concerned about Brad Hutto being on there twice, and I wondered if they combine his votes. Hope so for him – that would have to be annoying. I said yes on all the amendments. The raffles don’t bother me terribly.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Here’s how I learned what “eleemosynary” meant…

      It was in the first days that I worked at The State, when I was the first editor to come from another Knight-Ridder paper, and practically the only one who hadn’t spent his whole career at The State.

      I was editing a legislative story by Clark Surratt that used the term. I thought it was a typo. When I learned that it was a real word, I protested that I had never heard of the word — my implication being that since I was a professional editor of many years’ standing and had a pretty good vocabulary, the word shouldn’t be used without explanation in a general-circulation newspaper.

      One of my fellow editors — one who had made it plain she saw me as an intruder in the newsroom — sneered something to the effect that I must think I was pretty special if I wanted to ban a word just because I didn’t understand it. Her tone implied that there were probably a LOT of words that I didn’t understand, but everyone else did…

      I don’t remember what I did. I probably ignored her and changed it to “charitable.”

  7. Michael Rodgers

    Took me more like 30 but that was first thing this morning, with the morning rush in the Northeast. It was smooth. They had enough workers and enough machines and the line had dwindled down to nearly nobody when I was leaving. That was the trouble that awful time before: they never could handle any rush and the lines kept getting longer and longer and longer. I voted Doug Ross for Treasurer.

    1. Doug Ross

      ” I voted Doug Ross for Treasurer.”

      Why, thank you, Michael! When I win, come see me and I’ll let you dive into the state’s money vault like Scrooge McDuck did.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        And if the state’s money vault doesn’t have a diving board, let me be the first to say that I’d like some of my tax money to go toward installing one…

        1. Kathryn Fenner

          Silly, it’s not a money vault. It’s a money tree!
          and there’s a leaf pile over by the curb…

          and, look, some legislators with big bags scooping it up….

  8. Jeff Morrell

    We voted at Ward 24 (Kilbourne Park Baptist). Same as most on here with a mix of Republicans, Democrats and a vote for the American Party. Ward 25 also votes there and a poll lady told us 300- 400 had voted before we arrived at 11:10 am. There were 10 in line ahead of us and our total time was less than 20 minutes or so.

    1. susanincola

      I voted at Ward 24, Kilbourne Park as well. There was no one in line when I got there at about 5 pm, just some folks talking outside. Kirkman Finlay was standing outside saying hello to folks and chatting with my neighbor when I got there.

      I signed on page 9 — can’t remember how many are on a page, but there’s never a huge number — I think there’s only 800+ people in my ward.

    1. Silence

      I have had to deal with him directly a few times, and never had a warm fuzzy about it. Also, wasn’t David Adams the one who leaked misinformation about Kirkman Finlay’s taxes at the last minute during the Finlay/Benjamin race?
      I believe he made some statements to the media that turned out to be untrue, but were only proven untrue after the election.
      I felt like he was injecting partisan politics into a supposedly non-partisan race, and that it was a dirty trick, to boot. I thought it showed a low level of integrity, and of trustworthyness. Our treasurer should be about collecting taxes, and protecting the finances of the county, not about playing political dirty tricks. I will never vote for David Adams again.

  9. Barry

    Voted in Kershaw County after work. About 30 people in line. Waited about 15 minutes.

    Voted for Sheheen
    graham and Scott

    Voted Yes for local sales tax increase for schools

    Left some things blank

  10. Doug Ross

    The State has already called the Haley victory.

    Who from the Democratic Party will step up and accept responsibility for Sheheen’s dismal showing? This wasn’t a Tea Party groundswell – it was the tide rolling back on Sheheen’s lackluster campaign. No energy plus the wrong issues. All that matters is JOBS JOBS JOBS. 4K kindergarten is for wonks.

    1. Doug Ross

      At least Vincent will now have plenty of time to spend on taking down the flag. He is going to do that, right? He won’t forget how important that is, right?

    1. Doug Ross

      Man, that’s not even worth driving to the precinct. You lost every race AND had to pay for the gas to do it.

      1. Norm Ivey

        Watching the returns on, of 28,000 straight-ticket votes reported as of 10:09, about 75% of those were cast for the Democratic party.

        For RSD2 school board, current leaders are Manning, Caution-Parker, Plank and McKie.

        1. Norm Ivey

          The straight-ticket numbers are for Richland County, not state-wide.

          Unless Melinda Anderson can make up a 2000-vote deficit through absentee, provisional and 1 last precinct, the new board members will be those mentioned above.

          1. Doug Ross

            Yay! Both incumbents look like they’ll be defeated. 20+ years and 12 years is plenty of time on the board.

          1. Barry

            No surprise in Richland County that they voted for a guy that seemed to be running for county council considering his campaign rhetoric.

            Graham absolutely crushed Hutto and the others- as expected.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Then they should make individual decisions in each race, and THINK about each one, rather than going “Oh, he’s the Democrat, so I pick him…”

            2. Doug Ross

              Could you name all the Democratic candidates in all the races on your ballot before you got in the booth?

          1. Norm Ivey

            Hopefully this link will take you straight to them.

            At scvotes, click 2014 General Election Results.
            Click Results by County, top, right of center.
            Click on Richland County when the map comes up.

            Straight tickets don’t show up on the statewide reports, but they are at the top of the screen for each county.

            For any individual race you can click on View Contest Detail map, and then on View all data to see the precinct-by-precinct breakdown.

          2. Doug Ross

            I’m not Norm (but I aspire to be like him someday)… here’s the link for Richland County. Looks like 53,741 straight party votes — 40,000 (75%) of them by Democrats.


            These are the “my church handed out a flyer and told me to push this button” voters… There should be a label next to the button that says “I’m too stupid to spend time to understand who I am voting for”.

            1. Kathryn Fenner

              Wouldn’t it be nice if the only offices we did have to vote on were those we actually care about and are thus likely to become educated about?
              I mean, we no longer elect dogcatchers…

  11. Doug Ross

    I love the fact that the Libertarian candidate, Steve French, got four thousand more votes than quitter Tom Ervin.

    The next time someone tries to suggest that money can buy elections, that’s a data point for the opposition.

  12. Bart

    Republicans chased the majority in the Senate and won it plus they increased their power in the House. Now, what are they going to do with the new power entrusted to them by the voters? Will they actually try to do something positive and earn the trust(?????) of the voters? Or will this be one more Waterloo in the making and in 2016 will they screw up so badly the pendulum will swing back to Democrats?

    Republicans have a habit of standing in a circle and firing loaded guns inwards instead of outwards. Is it possible they have learned some lessons and at the same time, have Democrats learned any lessons? Will the country have a more bipartisan congress or will it be just as divided as before and will Republicans leave Democrats on the outside looking in?

    For now, the congratulations and words of reconcilation will be heard from victors and the defeated but once they go back to their familiar surroundings, will the old attitude continue or will it change to actually consider what is best for all, not just the few?

    There is an opportunity for congress and the White House to work together constructively. Will they take advantage of the opportunity? Will Obama embrace and work with what he has for the last 2 years or will he try to be Don Quixote and tilt at windmills just to prove his ideological purity?

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      “Republicans chased the majority in the Senate and won it plus they increased their power in the House. Now, what are they going to do with the new power entrusted to them by the voters? Will they actually try to do something positive and earn the trust(?????) of the voters?”


      “Or will this be one more Waterloo in the making and in 2016 will they screw up so badly the pendulum will swing back to Democrats?”


      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Oh, and I could add…

        “When the Democrats take back over, what are they going to do with the new power entrusted to them by the voters? Will they actually try to do something positive and earn the trust(?????) of the voters?”


        It’s going to take dramatic change to breathe new life into our politics. Which I don’t see on the horizon…

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