Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Poll watchers in Alabama report massive turnout, long waits and machine shortages

One observer spoke to multiple people in long lines who vowed that they are ready to wait all night if they have to.


People are waiting in long lines for hours to vote across Alabama today due in part to massive turnout and in some places due to crashing machines, too few machines or too few ballots, election observers say.

Jefferson County Commissioner Sheila Tyson is one of 85 pastors visiting polling sites in the state’s most populous counties. They are members of a national network of poll chaplains “bringing a moral and peaceful presence to polls” in coordination with attorneys.

“I have never seen this before. Never, and I have been involved in politics since I was 10, and I’m 59 now,” Tyson said of the turnout. Secretary of State John Merrill has also predicted record-breaking turnout.

Machines at a site in Pleasant Grove went down this morning, she said, so her group called the election protection hotline and someone came and fixed them.

Tyson wasn’t told what went wrong with them.

When she left the Jefferson County Courthouse at 9:30 a.m., she estimated that there were at least 1,000 people in line waiting to use six voting booths inside. Tyson then went to Jonesboro Elementary School in Bessemer, where she said there were 500 people in line waiting to use two voting machines.

Tyson said she thought there should have been more machines provided at both sites due to the high expected turnout.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Statewide, issues with voting machines have been sporadic and not widespread, according to observers with the state Democratic Party. In Tuscaloosa County, however, some voters who never received their mail-in ballots have shown up to cast provisional ballots and been asked to come back later because not enough extras had been printed.

Tyson said she doesn’t see the lines deterring anyone. She’s seeing determination.

“The urgency, like it’s an emergency,” she said.

One woman who needed to pick up her medication from the pharmacy told a pastor where it was and he went and got it. She stayed in line. 

People brought chairs, some are playing music and handing out water and snacks, and young voters are giving up their chairs for seniors, Tyson said.

Her group is in touch with a 106-year-old woman they have helped to vote by absentee ballot in past elections. She has insisted on walking into her polling place today, Tyson said.

She has spoken to multiple people in long lines who vowed that they are ready to wait all night if they have to.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

“They’re not leaving,” she said.

Micah Danney is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

More from the Alabama Political Reporter


"Seeing so many children and parents come out to cheer us on this morning reinforced why we’re doing this — to preserve the American...


All Alabama polling locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on election day.


Over the year, wage and salary employment increased by 53,800, representing the largest year-to-date growth of 2.6 percent.


Average weekly wages are at their second highest level, measuring $1,005.34 per week.


The association is supporting Lance Bell, Jay Hovey and Pete Riehm.


"It was a surreal moment bubbling in my own name this morning,” Britt said.


Alabama Department of Transportation director John Cooper said Rebuild Alabama Act funds are making the projects possible.

Featured Opinion

Perhaps this crisis wouldn’t even exist if the state had done what it should have done years ago: Expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care...