ACORN is going to be updating this blog posting all day with new stories from our field organizers. So far what we are seeing are a few problems amidst huge turnouts and largely smooth voting.

In general, the levels of excitement in ACORN neighborhoods are very high and there are stories of persistence in the face of barriers like poorly-trained poll workers, long lines, and bureaucratic snafus.

We’ve arranged these stories by state and city and we feel that give a good on-the-ground sense of how people are reacting on this historic Election Day.

Florida – Orlando
Orlando ACORN has close to 200 canvassers hitting 25,000 doors split between African-American communities in western Orange County and Latino neighborhoods in eastern and southern Orange County. Contact Stephanie Porta at sporta@acornmail.net or 407-592-4784

Florida – Orlando – Personal Story
Mary Lynn Plotkin is a story of persistence. Excited about participating in this historic election she showed up at her polling place at 6:30 AM, only to be turned away by a poorly-trained poll worker because “there was no place to park”. She works 20 miles away from her polling place, so she went to work, complained to the Bureau of Elections, and then four hours later, went back to the polling place. In a reassuring turn of events, the poll workers actually apologized to her about being turned away. She waited with about 50 other people and it took her about 30 minutes to vote.

Indiana – Indianapolis
ACORN Leader Mary Sears has taken 120 people to the polls so far and has never seen anything like this in the 41 years she has been voting. She is particularly seeing young and minority voters, and lines are one to two hours but seem to be moving with no major problems. Everyone seems to be excited! Contact: Jeff Ordower at moacorn@acorn.org or (314) 531-9634

New Mexico – Statewide
New Mexico ACORN is knocking on 10,000 doors today in three counties with 165 canvassers. New and infrequent voters in Dona Ana (Las Cruces), Bernalillo (Albuquerque) and Valencia (Santa Fe) will be getting visits from ACORN today. Early voting in Albuquerque was well over 50% of the total turnout for 2004.
Contact Matthew Henderson for more information – nmacorn@acorn.org – 505-379-6947

Pennsylvania – North Philly
There was a sense of excitement and taking part in an historic event here in North Philadelphia. People are taking pictures of their friends and family in front of the “Vote Here” signs, and of the long lines. On woman was spontaneously yelling lines from MLK’s “Mountain Top” speech from 1968 in Memphis at the top of her lungs. Lines were down the entire city block.
Contact Ali Kronley at paacorn@acorn.org or 267-408-5582

Pennsylvania – Pittsburgh
At the Temple Baptist Church on Race St. in the Homewood neighborhood of Pittsburgh (an ACORN neighborhood) voting machines broke down for a little over an hour. With lines heading out the door, no paper ballots were available to be handed out. Most people waited, but a number chose to leave. Many of the people in line voiced anger and frustration but tried to be patient. They finally got the machines working but it is unclear if paper ballots were ever delivered. For more info contact MaryEllen Hayden at paacornpiho@acorn.org

UPDATE 1:45 EST
Pennsylvania – Pittsburgh
Ms. Lillian Allen is a 100 year-old woman from Pittsburgh. She has been an ACORN member for 15 years. She originally got involved because she could see the good the organization was doing in the community. Not only did she vote for President today, but she went door-knocking. Ms. Allen said, “If I can help, I want to.” Most of her neighbors have already voted, which thrilled her. Ms. Allen said it’s a privilege to vote in this election. She said it took a long time to get the right to vote. “When I got a chance to vote, I voted!”

100-year-old Lillian Allen goes to cast her vote in Pittsburgh

Update: 2:15 EST
Missouri – St. Louis
Laderic is a first time voter in North County St. Louis. He finally decided to register to vote because he was concerned about the economy and the foreclosure crisis. The zip code he lives in (63136) is one of the leading areas of foreclosure in the country. He waited in line for a half hour to vote. He wasn’t originally on the list but they eventually were able to find his name on a computer and he voted by paper ballot. Laderic says he plans to vote in every election in future because he knows he can make a difference. Contact Julie Terbrok at 314-660-3843.

Missouri – St. Louis – Story of Persistence
The lines at the Velda Village City Hall polling place in North St. Louis County are running 4+ hours. Brad Bilyeu has been standing in line for hours with his pregnant wife and young child. He still can barely even see the building and is not 100% sure he will be able to vote. Mr. Bilyeu sent his Voter Registration Card in 2 days before the deadline. The Board of Elections said they didn’t get the application and that he had to reapply. He went down to the office to fill out the paper work again. He called yesterday (Nov. 3rd) to double check that he was registered and was told he is not on the roles. No one of authority would talk to him, they told him they were too busy to deal with his problem. He decided to show up anyway and wait in line with the rest of the voters. Contact Julie Terbrok at 314-660-3843.

Update: 3:00 EST
Ohio – Cincinnati
Cincinnati ACORN has 80 canvassers knocking on doors targeting 40,000, new and infrequent AA voters in Cincinnati and Hamilton County. The canvassers include an ACORN member from Louisville, KY, who wanted to make an impact in a closely contested state.

Ohio – Cincinnati
This is a great example of how voter contact can create voters. Cincinnati Head Organizer Amy Teieleman was at a grocery store picking up supplies for her canvassers when she was engaged in conversation by a woman named Jennifer Daniel, who was very excited to vote. It turned out that she wasn’t going to vote because she had lost her ID, but she “got this red and white flyer on my door this morning. Normally I throw those things out, but this one I read and it said that I could bring a check stub instead of photo ID, so that’s why I’m here, to pick up a check stub. Then I’m going to vote.” Turns out that “red and white flyer” was an ACORN doorhanger left at her house in the Evanston neighborhood of Cincinnati. Without ACORN’s voter education program, that voter never would have existed.
Contact Amy Teitelman, ohacornciro@acorn.org, 513-257-9813

Update: 4:00 EST
Florida – Orlando – Personal Story
ACORN members Leroy Bell has been out watching voting at two polls in the Apopka neighborhood of western Orange County in Florida. Echoing sentiments from ACORN members across the country he said that he’s “never seen anything like this in my lifetime. People are taking pictures of themselves next to the signs, they are bringing their babies to have their pictures taken, everyone is saying how they want to tell them ‘You were there.'” Mr. Bell also made the connection between this election and what happens next. “As an ACORN member this is a great thing, once a community gets together for something as big as this it’s going to be hard to stop them from doing something for their ownself. People are getting excited, but whoever wins needs to held accountable.”

Ohio – Cincinnati – Story of Persistence
A 94 year old woman had to go to 3 different polling places because her polling place changed. The poll workers at the 2nd place were able to successfully assist her in locating the correct place. She was in a wheelchair and accompanied by her caretaker. She was said she was upset and tired but not going to give up. “I’m going to vote.” she said. “I’m not going to miss this one.”

Update: 4:30 PM EST
Florida – Miami – New Voters At The Polls In Miami
The mood was one of joviality this morning at Sunkist Grove Community Center in North Miami. The polling station, part of the largest precinct in the area with more than 4,300 registered voters, was a hub of understated excitement and fervor. As familiar tracks from the likes of musical legend Bob Marley blasted from large black speakers hoisted high above the assembled crowd, eligible voters calmly shuffled forward in single file, patiently inching their way toward the double doors knowing behind them lay not only a voting booth, but also the opportunity to take part in one of the most historic elections in American history.

By the time officials opened the polls here at 7:00 a.m. this morning, more than 200 people were snaked around the polling station and the surrounding manicured lawns eager to cast their vote. And though by midday wait times had decreased from an estimated four hours to 45 minutes, the steady stream of new arrivals meant the line was never less than 50 people strong, many of whom were casting ballots for the first time. Among them, 23-year-old Vladimir Verdieu:

“I was eligible to vote in the last General Election, but I wasn’t really that into it,” he says toying with the large black comb nestled into the rear of his afro. “Honestly, I don’t really truly believe what either candidate has to say, but I really would like to go to school and learn to be a paramedic, so I decided to come out and vote for the person I thought would best help me realize my goal in life.” Verdieu, whose parents are Haitian-American, registered to vote when a representative from ACORN approached him on the street one afternoon this past September. “I would have registered by myself regardless, I think,” he quips, “but they kind of gave me the push I needed.”

Other first-time voters exiting the polls had different reasons for exercising their right to vote. Haitian-born Peter Gedoen became an American citizen more than a decade ago, but it wasn’t until he and his girlfriend registered to vote with ACORN’s help that he entertained the notion of casting a ballot. “You know when the economy began to crumble and people are losing their jobs and I decided it was time to get out there and help change things,” says Gedoen. “The Haitian community is really excited about this election and they are all voting this year, I’m telling you. We want some security back in our lives and we’re doing everything we can to make sure we get it.”

An estimated 500 voters had cast ballots in one of Sunkist Grove Community Center’s 20 voting booths before noon today, which were carefully moderated by some 15 poll staffers. Less than a handful, according to SEIU volunteer Esly Caldwell, who arrived shortly after 6:15 a.m., had encountered difficulties: “As far as I know, everything has been smooth,” adding “there are a handful of people whose ballots were cast provisionally, though I’m unclear on the details are unclear, but I believe there are attorneys looking into their cases.”
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Workers at the North Miami polling station anticipate another large influx of voters shortly before sunset and say polls will close as scheduled at 7:00 p.m.
Contact Joanne Greene, flacornpd@acorn.org, at 561-512-7579

North Carolina – Raleigh
Raleigh ACORN, a relatively new ACORN office has been canvassing 12 precincts for a few weeks with volunteers from ACORN membership. Today they care working with the A. Philip Randolph Institute to give rides to the polls and conduct GOTV phone calls into SE Raleigh neighborhoods. ACORN’s Raleigh Head Organizer says that people are overcoming cynicism about the electoral process in order to cast their ballots, even though many of them feel nervous about whether or not the outcome will be stolen. He says they are scared about that, but voting anyway.

Update: 6:45PM
New Mexico – Albuquerque
This is a quick snapshot of the range of canvassing styles that ACORN folks are using this year. A canvasser in Albuquerque looking for voters who have not yet voted is covering his turf using a skateboard.

Florida – Miami
Alisea Mazeain from Miami, Florida said, “This is the 3rd Presidential election I’ve been able to vote in. Every election we’re told it’s the most important, but I believe this year is the most important based on candidate running. I know a lot of people, like my brother and uncle who are not voting this year, but I’m voting because I want my voice to be heard.”

Missouri – St. Louis – Report From the Longest Line in the Country!
ACORN Election Protection staffer Dan Syzmon was told by the Eastern Missouri Director of the ACLU that the line at the polling station at the Velda Village City Hall in north St. Louis County is the longest line in the nation. When Dan showed up at 11 to check-in he was told by one man that he had been waiting since 6:50 in the morning. The line is now a seven hour wait!

There are 1100 voters registered at the polling place, but the elections officials were only able to process 37 voters an hour. Dan estimates that there about 300 people waiting in line and that none of them are interested in leaving. Obama comfort teams have shown up to distribute water and the local Fire Department fired up the grills and started making hot dogs for everyone stranded in line.

Voting is going a bit faster now than in the morning because a local judge has agreed to allow individual voters waive their privacy rights and therefore fill out ballots on the walls, on their legs, anywhere, in addition to the three touch-screen voting machines.

Everyone is voting in a small 15×30 room in groups of about 10 people each. Missouri law states that anyone in line by 7PM gets to vote. Dan has been gathering contact information in case of legal action and to take over an upcoming County Board meeting (November 18) and demand better polling locations in the future.

Update: 6:45 EST
Minnesota – Twin Cities
There was a shooting outside a polling station in the North End of St. Paul, a working class neighborhood in the state capitol. Details are sketchy, but an ACORN canvassing team heard the shots and saw “some guys in blue running away with cops chasing.” More as we get it.

ACORN Communications

ACORN Communications

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