The much-hyped and anticipated Wisconsin presidential primary Election Day 2008 started out cold, with the mercury hanging several degrees below zero when the polls opened on Tuesday morning. The still-icy roads and sidewalks aren't a deterrent for many voters eager to cast their ballots for their presidential choice, and in six districts around Dane County, their pick for county board supervisor. Needless to say, this is a big election.
The vote in Madison could significantly affect the Democratic outcome in the state, with both the Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama campaigns looking to rack up as many UW student votes as possible, not to mention the rest of this politically-active community. Despite the cold conditions, the skies are clear and both the city and county clerks offices are expecting heavy turnout through the day.
The Daily Page is collecting voters' reports, turnout updates, and other scenes from around Madison and surrounding communities this Election Day. Continued updates on election results, parties, and candidate reactions are available here.
The polls are now closed.
Only ten minutes remain until the polls close. Those in line at 8 p.m. will be able to cast their ballots.
Carla Dawkins of Isthmus was voter #315 at her polling place. She describes her experiences: "None of the workers were under 60 years old, they all were jacked up on caffeine and had been there since 6 a.m. And then they have to stay at least until 10 p.m. when the boxes are picked up. The whole process took me about 15 minutes."
Katharine Q. Seelye with The New York Times is also live-blogging the Wisconsin primary now too.
An organizer of an Obama watch party at Syntropy Co-op on Jenifer Street notes that they're "starting to warm things up" in anticipation of the polls closing in less than 20 minutes.
Matt Dolbey with WisPolitics reports that voting remains busy throughout the state, with an anticipated final turnout around 40% in Madison.
A detailed report about voting on the UW-Madison campus was published by Nick Otto, focusing on the amount of campaign lit and propaganda strewn about the lecture halls and students bodies. He writes:
I woke up at 8 a.m. this morning and walked to a coffee shop to get a cappuccino and on my way I saw two girls holding up Obama signs at a street intersection, an Obama tent right smack dab in the middle of the UW-Madison quad, plus all sorts of Obama posters pushed down into snow banks or taped onto light poles.He goes on to describe the other campaign lit and propaganda to be found around campus -- nary a sight of a McCain sticker -- and the active flyer posting going on inside lecture halls.
Progressive political activist and Obama supporter Vicky Selkowe reports on her polling place experience this evening. She writes:
My husband and I just got home from voting at Hawthorne Library. Wards 12 and 13 vote there, which includes the Darbo Worthington neighborhood. We had to wait in line almost 15 minutes, which we have NEVER had to do there before. The line was easily 20 deep and stretched all the way out the front door of the library.Here's another sign of high turnout on the east side, and likely more good news for Obama in Madison.
There were lots of people registering to vote and, most noticeably, at least half of the line were African Americans, which I have never seen there. In fact, Jason and I couldn't remember ever voting with African Americans in Madison before and we've been voting here for almost 8 years. People were in a good mood, chatting with neighbors, letting new registrants back into the front of the line, etc.
WisPolitics reports on an Election Day drama about Obama campaign fliers at the UW that played out all afternoon on Daily Kos. Long story short, student IDs with photos are a valid proof of residency for voter registration according to Wisconsin law.
"I have no idea if it is indicative of a large or small turnout," writes one Madison voter, "but at 7:05 a.m. I was ballot #17, meaning that 16 people had voted in the previous 5 minutes. At least it was along my walk to work. It's nice not to detour in -3 degrees and windy."
Taegan Goddard reports that Hillary Clinton has released excerpts of her speech tonight, which will be delivered at 8:30 p.m. EST, a half-hour before the Wisconsin polls close and in just over twenty minutes. He notes that this may be "an indication she doesn't expect to win."
The Dane County Clerk's office reports that they will provide no further turnout numbers for the night until all of the voting is completed. Expecting some late voting in Madison due to long lines at polling places, they expect that hard numbers will not be available until long after the polls close tonight.
UW College Dems vice-chair Suchita Shah describes the last-minute politicking that continues on the UW campus: "Hillary's campaign is doing reminder calls. Obama's camp is still knocking on doors dragging people to the polls. And your College Democrats are still out here on Library Mall, helping people in the dark." She also notes that long lines persist at several campus polling places, declaring "Vote counts are approaching record turnout numbers."
Here's another perspective from Olbrich Gardens, as experienced on Tuesday evening. Faith Kaliszewski of Isthmus was voter #1338 at 6:15 p.m. "It was a total mad house there," she reports. "There was a huge line waiting to vote. I estimate 100 people." Barely an hour remains until the polls close, but those persons waiting in line at their polling place by 8 p.m. will be able to cast their ballot.
Katie Krueger shares a few photos from her polling place at Olbrich Gardens. She writes: "I am grateful for the way that neighbors, who have been hibernating all winter, ran into each other and caught up at the polls."
Mark Halperin at TIME notes more of the preliminary exit poll results for Wisconsin, now broken down by party and rough demographics. Obama is leading among Democratic women voters, and nearly doubles Clinton on independents, another sign that he may do well in the Badger State tonight. More commentary is provided by Robert Dougherty, while a numbers breakdown between the Democratic candidates is listed by Jack Craver with the UW College Dems.
Kenneth Burns of Isthmus reports long lines at the near east side O'Keefe Middle School at 5:45 p.m. "Every polling station I examined had been drawn on with the supplied black pen," he notes. "Who draws on a polling station?"
As the poll-closing hour of 8 p.m. approaches, the major national media outlets are getting in on the Wisconsin primary live-blogging action now too. The latest to join in is Jason George with the Chicago Tribune.
Afternoon and evening voters are sharing their experiences as well. Here's a report from a resident of the Tenney-Lapham neighborhood, who voted around 3:30 p.m. at the Ward 38 polling place in Lapham Elementary School.
"There were two people registering to vote, one person logging her ballot into the machine, and one person behind me getting his ballot," she reports. "Very quiet! I didn't even have time to look at my number because a woman handed it to me, and then I handed it right to the guy sitting next to her and he gave me my ballot. The whole thing took about five minutes."
"The student politics in the snow was all Obamatude," declares Ann Althouse in a brief photo essay depicting Election Day organizing on the UW Library Mall, including the tent set up by the College Dems. Posters and painted slogans cover the new snow at the west end of State Street.
Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post spurs his readers to make predictions about the Wisconsin primary in an item on his political blog for the D.C. publication. A quick perusal finds most observers pointing to, or perhaps more accurately, hoping for, an Obama win.
Melody Hanson has published a quintet of photos (here, here, here, here, and here) depicting voters casting their ballots in Madison today. "I was in my polling location this morning voting, and this amazing couple walked in," she writes in the caption to one image. "They have to be in their late 80s or early 90s. They both were almost bent over, walking extremely slowly into the polling room. But they had such determination on their faces."
A UW-Madison campus blogger reports massive turnout in Ward 46, for which the polling location is Memorial Library. So many, in fact, that some potential voters are turning away from the ballots. He writes:
Many students were complaining about their misunderstanding of the rules for what ward to vote in, items that qualify for registration (like a bill), and some thought they could just switch wards with no problem. Numerous people in my ten minute experience at Memorial Library left, because they were fed up with the long line and did not have time to register. Definitely something for the university and political groups to work on before November, where the difference in the state may come down to a few thousand votes.This makes a third campus area polling location, along with Memorial Union and Holt Commons, where very high turnout is being reported.
The Madison Times has published an op-ed by Madison tech businessperson and mayoral campaign activist Daniel Guerra Jr., in which he explains his support for the Obama candidacy. Guerra notes that the Clinton campaign is seen as well-supported by Latino communities in the county, but thinks that both candidates are competitive when it comes to the issues of Iraq, health care, and education.
Ben Smith at Politico passes along an email claiming that "Democratic officials with access to exit polls say Senator Obama looks like he's headed for a huge win in today's Wisconsin primary." There's only two-and-a-half hours until the polls close, so it won't be a long wait now to find out.
The Dane County Clerk's office reports that there has been turnout of 25-30% as of mid-afternoon in the City of Madison. Numbers in the suburbs and outlying communities around the county are roughly the same, meanwhile. "We found during the day that the county was pretty much in line with the city," noted one staffer. The office does not have any specific data on this point on any areas of particularly higher or lower turnout, meanwhile. "There's nothing standing out," they report. As the student population continues to vote heavily through the afternoon and evening hours, though, higher numbers in these wards should be expected.
Cameron Marston of the UW-Madison chapter of Students for Barack Obama has published an image of the campaign's busy office at Laundry 101. More images from there and elsewhere on the GOTV beat in downtown Madison can be found in a photo set from this afternoon.
The AP has released highlights from the preliminary results of an exit poll taken at 35 locations around Wisconsin. Nearly 15% of Democratic voters are new to the polls, possibly indicating more votes for Obama. There's more analysis and discussion of these results in a diary on Daily Kos.
Tom Laskin of Isthmus was voter #800 at Thoreau Elementary School in the Nakoma neighborhood on Madison's near west side at 2:30 p.m. this afternoon. He describes the scene at the school and ponders the meaning of the Election Day bake sale. He explains:
Kids were running through the place because the school day was about to end, and most voters were stopping at the bake sale that's always there on election days.
I've never asked why there's a bake sale on election days. It's just a tradition, apparently. Maybe Betsy Ross sold baked goods to pay for her flag or something of that sort. Anyhow, when I was a kid they always had bake sales at the local elementary school, too. Kennedy-Nixon, bake sale. Johnson-Goldwater, bake sale, Humphrey-Nixon, bake sale, Nixon-McGovern, bake sale, etc.
We planned our day so that we'd vote on an off hour, and there were maybe 10 other people there voting. I'm glad I didn't have to register, because the rather ancient folks handling that task were taking forever to register a single voter.
"Voting activity was swift and steady on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus," reports Stacey Forster with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. She notes that major campus polling locations at Memorial Union and the lakeshore dormitories had upwards of 500 voters by 2 p.m., and quotes former Madison aldermanic candidate Lauren Woods about her support for Obama.
An afternoon voter at the downtown MATC polling place reports she was voter #441 -- an increase in 300 people since the morning -- at around 3:45 p.m. The voter registration table in this UW-Madison student heavy ward was also buzzing with six new voters.
"I would expect the Republican turnout in Madison to be fairly low at this point," says Wisconsin GOP director Mark Jefferson. "Huckabee has made a stop here, and McCain did not do one. I don't think either campaign has targeted Madison very heavily for turnout. Obviously, in the Madison market the Democratic race is especially going to have more interest in the city."
Jefferson is discussing the Republican dynamics when it comes to the primary in Madison. Noting that each congressional district in Wisconsin will apportion three delegates to the Republican National Convention in the Twin Cities this summer, he suggests that votes for Huckabee could be higher than expected if the turnout is low on that side of the ballow. "If a vote for Huckabee is a protest vote," he says, "and protest voters are usually more determined, it could potentially help him. It's tough to tell, though, and I would expect that the Madison turnout coming out of Madison would be small."
That's no surprise given the city's progressive reputation, but Madison and Dane County remain the second largest and fastest growing population center in the state, and a rich source of votes period as political observers are increasingly recognizing. "When you talk about the Republican vote totals, the numbers in the suburban and rural areas in Dane County pick up quickly," says Jefferson. "When looking at the general election, we're going to have to run stronger in those pockets."
Gregory Humphrey reports that voting remains brisk at the Wil-Mar Center on Madison's east side this afternoon. "Out of roughly 2,000 potential voters I was 639, and there was five more hours for voters to cast ballots," he notes. "After work it will be very busy for the poll workers."
While the Dane County Clerk's office won't start compiling data on turnout at UW-Madison until later, reports WisPolitics, the numbers are big at UW-Milwaukee. And by the buzz on this campus, high in this city too.
Matt M McElroy reports that voting today was busy but without hassles. "Plenty of activity from the various campaigns here in Madison though," he notes. "I've had a few e-mails and even a phone call from each group already this morning/afternoon."
"I have to dispute the claim for Best Polling Station as being either Olbrich or Vilas Zoo," writes in one Madisonian in response to an earlier assertion about these particular voting honors in the city. "My polling station is the Odana Hills Golf Course where there is beer on tap," he continues. "In spring elections, you can play 18 holes, order up a tap of Capital Amber, and vote all at the same place!"
CNN "I-Reporter" Maria Lehman is one of several Wisconsin voters who shares their thoughts about the cold weather today with the cable network. As reported in the online video:
"It's not snowing today. It's just bitter, bitter cold," she said.Another voter from Wausau shares similar sentiments, declaring that the cold won't stop him.
Lehman took her two children -- Owen, 4, and Julia, 2 -- to vote in Stoughton, Wisconsin. It was the children's first election, and Owen got the honor of putting his mother's ballot into the voting machine.
"He was really excited, and my 2-year-old says 'vote' now, which is really adorable," she said.
Tana Elias with the Central branch of the Madison Public Library notes that this polling place in downtown Madison has seen "a steady stream of voters" since the polls opened Tuesday morning, and offers to thanks for one essential component of a smooth vote. Elias declares: "We'd like to take this opportunity to thank the library staff you usually don't see -- our maintenance crew -- for their hard work in clearing our sidewalks and courtyard of the icy snow that accumulated over the weekend. Thanks Dave, Gilbert, James and Ricardo! The sidewalks were clear for the voters who came first thing in the morning before the library was even open."
Vilas Neighborhood resident Kristin Todd reports on her experiences with voting over lunch break today. "Hearing that things weren't too crazy elsewhere made me think voting over a late lunch might just work," she explains. "I voted at St. James Catholic School around 1:30 p.m. and it was easy peasy. Including walking time to the car, I was in and out within 5 minutes. Much better than the 20 minutes I had budgeted for!"
Here's an update from Sauk County to the northwest of Madison. "Drove to our little white building hidden in the snow at the foot of the Baraboo Bluffs," writes a voter from Greenfield Township. "A big night here would be around 300 voters. Just after noon we were up to 120. One thing about rural communities is that there is never a line. On the other hand, the roads can be a pain. BTW, that's two rural Wisconsin votes for Obama!
The presidential campaign events at the Great Dane (Obama), the Stadium Bar (Clinton), and the Nitty Gritty (Wisconsin GOP) aren't the only Election Day parties planned in Madison tonight. Dane Count Board of Supervisors Chairperson Scot McDonell, who is facing a primary challenge in his District 1 seat on the isthmus, is holding a party at Hawk's Bar & Grill on State Street starting at 7 p.m. This might be a good place to escape from the direct hype of the campaign, particularly when one of them ends up falling short.
Suchita Shah of the UW College Dems offers and update on that group's GOTV efforts on Library Mall today. "Secretary of State Doug LaFollette just stopped by to congratulate us College Democratrs for 'Building the House,'" she writes, noting that a space heater is help keeping their crew warm but not enough to prevent the cold from affecting their computer. "Students for Obama and Students for Hillary are out in full force dragging people to the polls," notes Shah, asking for more volunteers as only five hours of open polling remains.
Isthmus published Vince O'Hern reports on his voting experience today. "I voted at Olbrich around 11:15 a.m. this morning," he explains, and was voter #500 at the east side polling place. "There was about a 15 minute wait in line, and many neighbors were meeting and greeting. A couple of folks were overheard saying that they felt good about either candidate (the Democrats, obviously) and would be okay with either outcome. They also expressed the hope that the candidates would get along after the nomination process and that they wouldn't split the party."
North side resident Michael Basford comments on his vote today over the lunch hour. He explains: "I had a slightly confusing experience at Sherman Middle School this noon as I had to go to one extra table to confirm my address to vote. I was accompanying a neighbor who had voted last year in this ward and he wasn't on that list -- so he had to re-register. Otherwise, it worked out fine and we had no trouble voting. We were around the 200 mark -- which is quite high for a Spring Election in this ward.
The Obama campaign also offers a textbook statement on the status of their Election Day GOTV today. "People are working hard, they're on the phones, out canvassing knocking on doors, doing everything they can to turn out the vote," says Wisconsin spokesperson Dan Leistikow. "We have a large number of volunteers, people we recruited from the rally at the Kohl Center and other supporters from around Madison." And as with the Clinton campaign, the Obama effort will be working until the polls close on Tuesday. "People are going to go right up to the wire and turn out every vote we can between now and 8 p.m.," notes Leistikow.
Tom Dehlinger, the circulation manager for Isthmus, shares a story about an atypical voting situation on the southern edge of Dane County. "I live in the Village of Brooklyn, which is situated on the Dane-Green county line," he explains. "Our polling place has two sets of officials, one for each county. At most times the officials outnumber the voters, but this primary will be different. At 9:30 a.m. I was #13 in Green County, and #44 overall. At 1:20 p.m. the overall total was 103. The evening voting will be brisk, probably taking the total over 300 for the two counties.
"Another interesting fact is that Dane County initially printed ballots to accommodate 62% of registered voters. But, last week, with our state's vote becoming more important, Dane County ordered extra ballots, enough to accommodate 75% turnout. That high number is unlikely, but the clerks don't want to be short."
Madison economist Tom Bozzo wonders who Republican candidate John McCain will do in Ward 66, the Monroe-Dudgeon neighborhood. "In '04, like Dane County, we broke narrowly for Kerry -- 341 votes to 309 for Edwards -- and even Dean (270) and Kucinich (123) considerably outpolled George W. Bush, who picked up 56 votes amid light turnout for the uncontested Republican contest," he writes. "And we aren't the most liberal ward in the city by a long shot."
No matter who wins the most votes in today's Democratic primary, there will be a split in overall delegates between the candidates. J.R. Ross of WisPolitics provides a breakdown of the delegates process in Wisconsin for both parties, including a look at the committed and uncommitted superdelegates on the Democratic side of the aisle.
The Dane County Clerk's office reports that today's balloting continues to run smoothly, with no difficulties reported so far to their offices in downtown Madison. They do caution, though, that any complaints or concerns aren't reported by staffers at the voting locations until after the polls close.
"I was voter #356 this morning at Whitehorse Middle School on the east side," reports Isthmus employee Julie Butler. "Everything went smoothly, there were only about four other people there when I voted. I would guess they were all in their '60s or 7'0s and the main topic of conversation was how difficult it was to get out to vote with the treacherous, icy sidewalks and not the election itself."
A campaign spokesperson at the Hillary Clinton campaign offices on the west side of Madison offers a standard statement the campaign in town as Election Day passes the halfway point. "We have folks out across the state and lots of people out on the streets doing visibilites and making phone calls to get the word out for Senator Clinton," she says. There is no hard number provided on the number of volunteers working for the New York Senator's campaign around the city today, meanwhile. "We have folks coming in and out all day," says the spokesperson. "We will be working until the polls close."
"I just got back from lunch where I went to vote at Gates of Heaven by James Madison Park," reports Isthmus employee Katie Gagliano. "No real news... it was super fast and easy. We were literally in and out within five minutes and that probably included parking, walking from the car, and walking back to the car when we were done."
A Wisconsin sports blogger shares his voting story, and declares the process easy. "It only took about 35 minutes between driving to my polling place, filling out my change of address form, voting and then getting home," he writes. "I just have one question... Who drives to the polling station, stands in line, fills out paperwork when necessary and then votes for Uninstructed Delegation? It's a little like asking a bartender to surprise you."
Michana Buchman of Isthmus shares her polling place story: "I showed up to vote at Olbrich Gardens around 9:15 a.m,. and was surprised to see a fairly long line. As we waited, surrounded by views of glittering trees against a clear blue sky, we smugly congratulated ourselves on having the best polling place in town. We were quickly put in our place by the polling 'chief inspector' (really, that's what his nametag said), who informed us that we were only second-best. Number one, in his opinion? The Vilas Park Zoo. 'Where else,' he said, 'do the polling directions include 'go past the penguins'?'
The Wisconsin State Journal is likewise live-blogging the election today, with various reporters providing updates and voters' stories from various polling locations around the city.
Andy Szal at WisPolitics provides more details about the turnout in Dane County so far, reporting that turnout is actually below expectations, something the clerk's office chalks up to the recent winter storm and continuing cold weather.
"I think I was #33 at the MATC building on North Street, around 7:10 a.m. or so," reports Isthmus employee Bob Koch about his voting experience this morning. "I almost wiped out on the slick floor in the entryway walking in. By the time I left, they had found another mat to put on the floor."
If you're looking for more reporting and commentary on the Wisconsin presidential primary and other elections, there's much, much more to be found in Madison Miscellany.
Emily Mills, an Isthmus contributor, discusses her reasons for voting, with a focus on Wisconsin's open-arms voting process. She declares:
I've had a number of debates over the merits of voting. In states where the primaries are closed, I understand the frustration of independents and other more non-partisan voters who are turned off from even showing up at the polls (or outright barred). But here's the thing: I do believe voting is a civic duty. It's one of the fundamental rights that come with being an American citizen, one that people have literally died to protect. We owe ourselves and our neighbors the minimal effort required in casting a ballot to have even just a small say in determining the direction of our cities, states and country.
Matthew Parker of the blog Political Buzz suggests a "few things to keep an eye on" in the Wisconsin primary today.
More live-blogging of today's election is being conducted by The Capital Times, which is publishing news briefs by its reporters that offer snapshots of scenes at polling locations around the city this morning. Additionally, progressive blogger Michael Leon is publishing updates on the vote, including reports from UW campus polling locations and the Obama campaign headquarters at Laundry 101.
"I voted at about 9:20 a.m. at Mendota School on Madison's northside, pretty much my usual time and I got pretty much my usual number," reports Isthmus employee Linda Falkenstein. "I was 148. I think I was about 120 in the last election which was just city council races. I was surprised that my number wasn't higher -- 148 seemed low to me, considering the heated race. Maybe it was so cold and slippery people were concentrating on getting to work and will vote on their way home, or, it's so cold people not going to vote at all.
"The only unusual thing was that the poll workers were telling everyone that you can 'vote for only one candidate.' They said that several people thought you could vote for more than one, so 'we're just telling everyone.' If you think that you can vote for more than one person, should you really be voting at all?"
Is your phone ringing off the hook today? WisPolitics reports on the final round of robocalls tying up the lines today.
Eric Schmidt of the UW College Democrats offers a quick history lesson on the origins of the Democratic Party's presidential nomination before noting his own entry into the electoral process and its effects on the the general primary and caucus system throughout the country. "I voted this morning at 8:45 a.m.," he writes. "It marked the first time I ever voted for a presidential candidate. Standing in line I realized nobody would be voting today if it weren't for the Democratic Party -- no Republicans, no Democrats, no independents. Something to think about."
Madison TV crews are already preparing for the election parties around town tonight. A WKOW (Channel 27) van has staked out a spot in front of the downtown Great Dane, the location for the Obama event.
Speaking of Ann Althouse, the self-described moderate who voted for Bush and against Kerry in 2004 offers a statement on her vote this time 'round, titled "Why I'm voting for Obama in the Wisconsin primary."
Well-known University of Wisconsin Law School professor and national level blogger Ann Althouse shares a few photos from here polling location here in town, at a UCC church.
Her observations on the turnout? "I arrived around 11 and didn't have to wait, but the woman me in said they'd had over 400 people so far and that was 'pretty good,'" writes Althouse. "There was a regular flow of people in and out of the place. Here on campus, I don't see anyone passing out fliers or trying to talk to passersby. It seems like a normal (cold) day. So, from my little vantage point, I'd say there's a good but not insane turnout."
"First time in my life I've had the pleasure of voting in a contested election between two candidates I like very much," notes Alex Hill in his report about Election Day in Madison. Hill discusses in detail his thoughts about the Democratic candidates, offering his policy and personality likes about both Clinton and Obama. He declares:
It's a choice between a dedicated community organizer who can motivate, inspire, and change minds and a policy wonk who has very specific, practical ideas on every issue under the Sun. There's not much of a substantive difference between their plans for the country or their outlook on public policy, but there's a striking difference in emphasis. Obama only mentioned policy very briefly and only in the context of the challenges we all face in life.Ultimately, Hill states that he voted for Clinton.
"I'll be thrilled to vote for and volunteer for either candidate in the general election," he concludes, "but I've cast my primary vote."
The Dane County Clerk's office is starting to get turnout reports from outlying areas, though has not yet received any data from Madison. As of around 10:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. this morning, the clerk's office reports that turnout outside of the city was already at 10%.
Linda Baldwin from Isthmus was voter #375 at her east side polling place shortly before 10 a.m. this morning. "Normally I'm the 100th voter at most," she notes. She continues to explain: "There was a line about five minutes long and most interesting to see was the number of younger voters who were registering on-site. In my few minutes there, I saw six younger voters register for what appeared to be the first time. That was in sharp contrast to the older folks who were working at the polls, all of whom were seasoned poll workers. Those senior ladies were very good at keeping everyone in line and moving forward. They must have been school teachers."
Baldwin also notes that there was "no real electioneering going on" at the polling place, and merely spotted one handmade "Vote for Obama" yard sign on Winnebago Street.
It's now officially afternoon, and while the polls remain open for another eight hours, the election night parties are approaching rapidly. Details about the Madison parties for the Clinton and Obama campaigns, as well as a general GOP event, are available here.
One pseudonymous blogger from Madison takes a look at the weather before speculating on the potential outcome of today's voting. "We'll see how it all shakes out," he writes on the contested Democratic primary. "I'm guessing Obama here, but probably not by much. If Clinton wins, she wouldn't be able to call it an upset. But so far, it looks like Obama owns Milwaukee and leads in Madison -- win those two cities and history shows you get the state."
Jason Dean shares his polling place experiences this morning, at the Gates of Heaven Synagogue, noting one instance of instantaneous electioneering by a fervent Obama fan. "Some people are very vocal about the candidates they support. Others prefer to keep their vote private," he declares. "It is one thing to support a candidate, and quite another to be obnoxious in a polling place."
"Why can't we vote anywhere?" asks one American Australian on TDPF, suggesting pooled balloting locations in central locations. Most people responding are skeptical, though, citing different ballots in different wards and the already-difficult process of running elections, the City of Madison's recent snafu in announcing polling places in eight wards.
A discussion initiated by Ben Smith on Politico.com focuses on the weather conditions and poll reports in the two states holding Democratic primaries today: Hawai'i and Wisconsin. Let's see, it warm in the former and bitterly cold in the latter. We're inured to the wind chill in this state, though, or at least consider ourselves to be. Voters from around the Badger State are likewise reporting high turnout, including at Madison polling locations like the Door Creek Church on the far east side and downtown by the UW campus.
If you haven't voted yet, or more specifically, if you don't know yet where to vote, the City of Madison and Dane County clerks' offices both provide online resources to help voters find their polling locations. Additionally, the online Wisconsin Voter Public Access tool can help prospective voters throughout the state determine their registration status, polling locations, and even provisional vote status for recently cast ballots.
"I voted at about 9:30 a.m. this morning, and was #290 at the Olbrich Gardens polling place," reports Isthmus employee David Medaris. He continues: "There were about 20 people ahead of me when I got in line. That was more than I expected for that time of day. I figured voter traffic would have dwindled by 9:30 a.m. due to more people being at work. Still, a line of 20 is way less than I've encountered earlier in the morning or after work, when lines tend to be much longer. The sun was up and lighting up all the snow on the ground, the sky was a deep rich low-humidity blue, people appeared to be in a good mood, and there's no more beautiful place to cast one's ballots than Olbrich Gardens, where you can duck into the Bolz Tropical Conservancy to experience a climate zone that stands in stark contrast to the dry cold winter outside."
"You all are very lucky in that you can register on the same day to vote in Wisconsin," declares a Maryland transplant to Wisconsin on the Madison LiveJournal community. "Not only that--but you have an open primary! Here in Maryland, we have to register ahead of time and be pre-registered in a party in order to vote in that party's primary. It seriously sucks, let me tell you. I know many people who were thwarted by one of those issues when they headed out to vote."
The discussion that flows thereafter includes more voter reports from polling places around the city. Again, anecdotal comments suggest voter turnout is high.
The UW College Democrats are busy outside this morning. "Got some free time?" asks the group's vice chair Suchita Shah. "Come help us volunteer with GOTV. We have a tent on Library Mall -- just stop on by."
Numerous ballots are also being cast in the Madison suburb of Stoughton. "County N is one bumpy sheet of ice south of U.S. 51 in Stoughton, getting to the Dunkirk Town Hall," reports Isthmus employee Ellen Meany, where she was voter #109 at 9:15 a.m. "That's a high turnout," she declares.
Career pundit and Madison Magnet director Rebecca Thorman has published multiple photos of her polling location the near east side, the historic Gates of Heaven Synagogue in James Madison Park.
Jesse Russell at Dane101 is also collecting voter reports from the blog's contributors, who similarly report high turnout.
Isthmus employee Thom Jones reports his experiences as voter #21 at 7:30 a.m. in the Town of Lake Mills, about 20 miles due east of Madison on I-94. "On the way there, I noticed two lonely Obama supporters holding up posters on the town square," he notes. "No other candidates were represented in the below zero weather. The best part was getting my 'I Voted' sticker from the guy who's only job appeared to be to hand out said stickers from the roll he tightly held. Since I was specifically called over -- 'Excuse me, you gotta get your sticker!' -- I felt obligated to affix it to my person immediately."
"I was voter number 60 at Olbrich at 7:10 or so this a.m." reports Isthmus employee Kathy Bailey. "The line was already snaked into a U-shape and down the hall. The young guy who was in charge (I'm assuming) had made oatmeal cookies and was handing them out and was full of good cheer. The election folks were S-L-O-W; it took us about 1/2 an hour to get through the line of about 30 folks. Once we had the form, we were in and out in a flash."
There are many voters in the growing communities surrounding Madison, too. Isthmus employee Chad Hopper reports that he was voter #181 at the Fitchburg City Hall/Community Center at 8 a.m. this morning. Despite the already high number, though, he notes that the polling place didn't appear to be too busy.
There are numerous Madison balloting reports in a discussion on TDPF, many voters noting that turnout definitely does look to be up today.
I was voter #101 at around 9:35 a.m. this morning at the downtown campus of MATC, which is the Ward 41 polling place for the City of Madison. This polling place is located on the east side of the brick building between the Concourse Hotel and Bethel Lutheran Church, in a glass-walled and sun-warmed atrium facing the lonely arch of the old Madison Central High School
The scene there was buzzing on Tuesday morning, with a full complement of campaign workers keeping ballots flowing smoothly, and even a couple of poll-watchers keeping an eye on the process. There were at least three new voters registering at this point, and a steady stream of those already registered moving from ballot table to blue plastic-walled booth to the ballot machine. As somebody who has voted in this location numerous times over the last few years, I can say they've got their system down well.
Meanwhile, when live-blogging voters' reports from the polls for the 2007 spring general election in Madison, I cast my ballot at nearly the same time, and was only voter #27 last year. By this purely anecdotal comparison, it looks like turnout is going to pretty high today. That's no surprise, though.