America votes!

Election day is finally here after the longest, most expensive and possibly most exciting presidential campaign in history. Barack Obama is ahead in the polls but whoever wins, the end of today will mark a change in politics that is relevant to the whole world. So wherever you are in the world we want to know what you’re doing on this historic day…

If you’re in the US and voting today tell us about your voting experience. What is the atmosphere like where you are? How long did you have to queue for? Are people turning out to vote in large numbers or is the atmosphere more subdued? And if you’re not voting, we’d love to hear why. We’ll be hearing on-the-ground reports from WHYS bloggers in diverse parts the US as election day unfolds.

And for those of you not in the US (which as Ros said yesterday, is most of you) will you be watching the election? Are people excited about the result where you are or does it just feel like a normal day? Is it true that the whole world is watching the US?

44 Responses to “America votes!”

  1. 1 Bob in Queensland
    November 4, 2008 at 11:30

    Well, I’m about as far away from the USA as you can get without leaving the planet–and I’ve been watching elections as a news addict for more years than I choose to admit. I detect that this election is somehow perceived as very different than normal.

    There’s an air of interest–and expectation–that I’ve never noticed before with the possible exception of Kennedy’s election back in 1960.

    Down here in Aus, the Melbourne Cup was the big news today but, now that’s over, there’s a great interest in the election results. It definitely doesn’t feel like a “normal day”.

  2. November 4, 2008 at 11:35

    World leaders must be the most concerned about who will be the next occupant of the White House. The American voters have been put to more test in these elections as they have to deal the candidates on their merits, not on their past -Barack Obama having lived in a Muslim country and McCain having been a war prisoner fighting for his country.

    Surely, this election will see more participation as there are many issues at stake and voters trying to make history by helping Obama to be the first black president or by maintaining the perpetuity of white presidents in the White House.

  3. 3 Dan
    November 4, 2008 at 11:54

    Barak Obama has been campaigning for 2 years and spent $1 BILLION but in all that time with the wind of the media fully behind him elevating him to Rock Star status has yet to close the deal.
    People worry about elections being stolen which was a fantasy cooked up by Al Gore to explain his poor campaign strategy and not understanding the US Electoral process. Al Gore brought the case to the Supreme court that ended the chaos. Maybe some people ought to read the supreme courts decision rather than a political bumper sticker.
    People are frightened to death about their vote not being counted not understanding that their vote elects a representative to the Electoral College, America does not have a popular vote to elect a President.
    What I am truly worried about is peoples reaction to when they find that should Obama be elected it is impossible that he can fulfill the aspirations that everyone of his supporters has placed their hopes and dreams in.
    He is not the Messiah, he cannot mandate change from on high, he hasn’t the fiscal resources at his disposal to achieve a good portion of his plan. However in any event the American political system is such that absent a national emergency political change happens slowly. It seems to have been designed that way to avoid a tyrant (or Rock Star?) from amassing too much control.
    Maybe the best that will come out of this election is an end to the irrational hate of certain politicians and party. The message for those people to get and understand is that none of the ills that fester like a burr under their saddle happened without the cooperation of BOTH party’s and only Congress can spend money for a war or anything else and the Democrats have had control of Congress for 2 years. . Ahhh…but why let logic and reality spoil a good bout of irrational hatred?
    Republicans, leaderless for 8 years lost their way and deserve to lose. The shock is that Democrats who might be in almost unbeatable control will be no better. The money corrupts and no Congressman retired less than a millionaire while their salary was only $160,000/yr.
    Thank God the campaigns are all over….we are so sick of it all. Besides, Wednesday Hillary starts the campaign for 2012. :))

  4. November 4, 2008 at 13:03

    Hi Dan
    I am impressed by what you say. You obviously know your stuff, but there is
    something wrong when McCain says: “Fight America’s enemy.” Obama is not America’s enemy, surely. McCain is not the military and he gives no clear indication of who is the enemy. Doesn’t this smack of intimidation!

  5. 5 Vijay
    November 4, 2008 at 13:26

    Check out the links below,American Democracy in action?
    You are forced to vote in Australia,aren’t you?
    Or do you only vote in the UK and Canada?



  6. 6 Bob in Queensland
    November 4, 2008 at 13:33

    @ Dan 1154AM

    A very different perspective here.

    It’s my take on the situation that Obama is leading the polls, not because of his “rock star” image but because he spent more time discussing the issues and explaining his policies and less time on negative campaigning.

    I do agree that, assuming an Obama victory, a huge problem will be managing the conflict between expectations and reality. However, maybe–just maybe–this could represent the begining of a change in American politics with a shift away from “swiftboat” tactics and a greater emphasis on policies.

  7. 7 Vijay
    November 4, 2008 at 13:47

    Election 2008 has been interesting, especially the primaries .

    The 1988,2000 and 2004 were nastier ,there was more of an edge.
    1992 was enjoyable,it was great to see the Reagan/Bush Ideology overthrown.

  8. 8 Steve
    November 4, 2008 at 14:01

    @ Bob

    Obama, like any other politician, benefitted from the image, and only discussed the “issues” as any other politician does, telling the people what he thinks they want to hear, making all kinds of promises he cannot keep. But that’s okay, because he only wants their votes, not to do what he promises to do. He doesn’t even have the power to do what he promises to do. I one day hope there is a politician honest enough to say, “instead of me promising to lower taxes, I will be truthful, and ask that congress pass a law lowering taxes, which I will sign into law. I don’t lower taxes, congress does. I as the President cannot pass legislation.”

    I don’t plan on holding my breath for this to ever happen though.

  9. 9 Kelsie in Houston
    November 4, 2008 at 14:01

    Early voting in the Houston area has gone off without incident (thus far)—although Texas will not cast its electoral votes for Mr Obama, that hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm among supporters for both the Republican and Democratic candidates. The tension, still very high, has slackened somewhat as people seem a bit relieved that the journey is finally about to end…

  10. 10 Bob in Queensland
    November 4, 2008 at 14:02

    @ Vijay

    Yes, voting is compulsory here in Australia though, at present, I’m on a permanent resident visa and only recently arrived so I’m not entitled to do so.

    In the US, obviously we don’t know the turnout yet. However, there are early indications that this year it may buck the trends and be extremely high. Obviously we won’t know the turnout for a few hours, but predictions like THIS STORY indicate a potentially high turnout (if voters aren’t deterred by long waits.

    It’s only an impression but I’ve been watching American elections for 4 decades now, quite often in a professional capacity, and this one “feels” different.

  11. 11 Colin in London
    November 4, 2008 at 14:03

    I’m stoked to watch returns on the Beeb and feeds from Blinkx tonight/tomorrow morning. The only waiting I had to do in order to vote was the long queue because Royal Mail did not have enough people working the windows for me to post my absentee ballot!

    I’m anxious and excited for the first time in many years, having voted in every election (bar one) since I was eligible in the ’92 election. Although my home state (CT) is reliably blue, its 2nd Congressional District was recently Republican until 50+ votes knocked the incumbent in ’06. I hope Rep. Courtney (D) gets reelected.

    I feel like I’m watching history in the present tense. Normally presentism would require a bit of displacement from the actual event, but not today. I’m astounded (but not surprised) by the level of registration and engagement by this election. Recent presidential election turnout has been hovering around the 50% mark. [2004 (55.3%), 2000 (51.3%), 1996 (49.1%), 1992 (55.1)] You’d have to go back to the 60s to see higher levels of engagement 1960(63.1%), 1964 (61.9%), 1968 (60.8%) and we may see that this time.

    I find it highly ironic that Obama was mocked by Palin and Giuliani for being a “community organiser.” Perhaps they still find it amusing that his efforts have increased voter registration (a few Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck registrations aside) to a degree that have paid dividends in creating a new pool to the electorate in states that the Republicans never had to compete in. We are the sum of our experiences and that certainly has helped shape Obama’s view of the national electorate. Having lived outside of the US for a few years now it is refreshing to see Obama engage all of America and lift it up rather than use fear by creating wedge issues as patriotism/terrorism and other social issues has has been characteristic of the Republicans over the past 8 years.

    Historically there seem to be parallels with the last time a Democrat won Indiana, Virginia – back in 1964 under Johnson which Obama may replicate. There was a war going on at the time, the economic engine was sputtering and there was of course Johnson’s “New Deal.” I don’t know if Obama will have such an all-encompassing philosophy, but he certainly has emulated the best of Kennedy and I am hopeful that the American public will give him that chance.

  12. 12 John in Salem
    November 4, 2008 at 14:06

    For the life of me I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t adopt Oregon’s all mail-in ballot system. There aren’t any polling places, no lines, no bizarre or untrustworthy machines. Everybody gets a ballot and plenty of time to mail it in or drop it off on election day. People like their rituals, I suppose.
    I’ll be leaving work a little after noon, stopping at Starbucks for my free coffee (first time I’ve been there in years), and then head home for a relaxing afternoon of talking heads and popcorn.

  13. 13 ben kagz
    November 4, 2008 at 14:33

    ooh Merica merica please elect a president who will help the world stop hating you because in the last eight years you have done almost everything wrong and for your mistakes or arrogance so many have died you disorganised atleast sane Iraq to nothing now.but that all in the past its correction time and it has to start with wise prudent voting,Yawah i come from Kenya and you must teach us how to conduct sane elections and behave therafter

    Ben Kagiri

  14. 14 Bob in Queensland
    November 4, 2008 at 14:36

    @ John in Salem

    Besides the actual voting system, the other thing I don’t understand is the voter registration system where the onus is on individuals to register–and many areas seem to go out of their way to make it an overly difficult, bureaucratic process.

    I’m most used to the UK where the government, operating through local government, work hard to find and list EVERY potential voter. Obviously there will be “misses” but I suspect the number of eligible voters registered is in the high 90% range.

    Similarly, there are enough polling stations and enough workers that, when voting there, I’ve never had to line up behind one or two people.

    This is not to say that turnout is particularly good–it’s not–but the excuse of difficulty and delay is removed.

  15. 15 Dan
    November 4, 2008 at 14:44

    If you live in Freedom why would you celebrate the Reagan “ideology” overthrown?
    If you preferred 18% home loans, high unemployment, the march of the Soviet Union spreading tyranny around the globe, America standing for nothing, a moribund economy and people in a malaise, politicians blaming the people the Jimmy Carter was your man.
    The rest of us preferred Ronald Reagan and we watched him change the world for the better.
    In the 20th Century he was one of the giants.

  16. 16 Jennifer
    November 4, 2008 at 14:58

    I woke up extra early this morning and was at the polling center by 6:45. I was about the 10th person in line so once things got going it seemed to go pretty fast! The line was pretty long and there were quite a few people still showing up to vote before work! There were plenty of booths and people were in a good mood.

    Re: “For the life of me I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t adopt Oregon’s all mail-in ballot system. There aren’t any polling places, no lines, no bizarre or untrustworthy machines.”

    I considered doing an absentee ballot but there is a sense of uncertainty when you just mail it in that isn’t there when you go to the polling center. I’d just rather hand my own in…..

  17. 17 Brett
    November 4, 2008 at 15:12

    Well heres my experience thus far.

    The polls are 2 blocks from my house at a local Baptist Church.

    I left my house before 5:30 am. and turned the corner to walk up the hill. As I neared the top I saw cars all over the place and noticed crowds of people gathering… Problem was they were gathering about 2 blocks from where the polling station was. When I got closer I had realized that they were gathering that far back because thats how long the line was.

    It snaked around buildings, through parking lots, back to the main road, and all this before the polls even opened. There was about 1000 people there when I showed up and the line kept growing. Everyone standing out in the dark and in the rain to vote. I had friends who woke up at 3am to go sit in line to vote. Two and a half hours later and soaked from the rain, I emerged with my “I voted” sticker and a big smile on my face. Despite the fact I knew my boss would hassle me about being late as he’s a non-voter. When I left, the line was just as long as when I had gotten there two and a half hours before.

    The atmosphere was amazing, Obama and McCain signs lined every block and every median and every person had a smile on their face, no matter how wet and cold they were.

  18. 18 Dawn Messerly
    November 4, 2008 at 15:45

    Greetings from Cincinnati in the ‘swing state’ of Ohio. I waited in line fir 3 hours yesterday to vote early and today I’m working from 6am to 9pm as an election judge (a citizen position) at the polls.

    So far, everywhere I’ve been has had a very positive vibe. On thing that puzzles me, given the fact that Ohio is so important in this election: where are the republicans? There are democratic volunteers and canvassers swarming all over the city, knocking on doors and getting out the vote. The 3-hours line to vote in Hamilton county yesterday was filled with Obama supporters (80% at least). Today, it appears that there is a shortage of republican poll workers and a surplus of democratic poll workers.

    The republican non-presence puzzles me.

    Lmk if you want more feedback from Cincinnati – email is best.

  19. 19 Brett
    November 4, 2008 at 15:49

    At the station I was at there were a few cars with McCain stickers that would pull up, find parking, get out of the car, see the line, throw up their arms, say some annoyed comment like “oh my god!”, get back in their car and drive off lol

  20. 20 selena in Canada
    November 4, 2008 at 15:49


    Do you think there are no Republicans or are they hiding their light under a bushel?

  21. 21 selena in Canada
    November 4, 2008 at 15:51


    Your excitement is being felt in Canada. I wish all goes well for you.

  22. 22 roebert
    November 4, 2008 at 16:04

    Whatever happens in this election, I wish the American people well. I hope that whichever candidate wins will do what is best for the US now, which is to transcend party politics in order to arrive at real, far-sighted and well-managed change. It’s not only a change of image that’s needed. There must be practical changes in foreign policy (less pre-emptive aggression, more reasonable accommodation, more real dialogue, more friendliness), as well as a move back to genuine democracy at home. Obama would not have been my choice for Democrat leader, but I feel that, with him in power, there might be a lot less governing of the electorate and more sensitivity to what the electorate actually wants. He’ll probably be a tightly reigned-in president, which is what the States needs right now. That’s my view anyway.

    To all my Yankee buddies over there I say: Remember Thoreau’s dictum: “That government which governs least, governs best.”

  23. 23 selena in Canada
    November 4, 2008 at 16:07

    If the poll on this blog is any indication, Obama will win in a landslide.

  24. 24 Venessa
    November 4, 2008 at 16:18

    I live in Oregon so I voted by mail. My ballot was popped in the mail yesterday. Tonight I plan on getting home early from work and watching the television.

    The first election I was eligible to vote in was 1996 and this is by far the most exciting. It truly does feel different and I surely hope I don’t have the same disappointment I did in 2000 & 2004.

  25. 25 Amy
    November 4, 2008 at 16:18


    I understand you feeling a little unsure about mailing in a ballot. When I moved to Oregon, the whole vote by mail thing seemed a little strange. I was used to going to the polling booth and doing my thing. I got used to it really quick though. It was so nice to get that ballot in the mail and really have the time to read over everything and “have my say” on not just the major election but also on the state and county issues as well. Here in the Portland metro area at least, there are plenty of convenient official ballot drop off sites where you can deposit your ballot into the box, just like you would do at the polling place. No need to worry about the United States Postal Service.

  26. 26 gary
    November 4, 2008 at 16:21

    I don’t wish to startle you; but the poll on this blog isn’t likely to be valid. Saying it as you see it, statistically speaking, is unusual behavior. Except for the occasional ringer, representative (normal) folks don’t blog.

  27. 27 selena in Canada
    November 4, 2008 at 16:24


    What are your thoughts then? I am interested. 🙂

  28. 28 Jennifer
    November 4, 2008 at 16:28

    @ Amy

    I guess I just worry that something might happen to it and there would be no way for me to know that it did indeed make it to it’s destination! It would be nice to have time to really think over the ballot. As it was this morning, my mom was finished fast and I was still reading/filling my ballot out! If they would sit the boxes around so that I could put my ballot in myself to ensure it was in there; I’d love that!

  29. 29 Angela in Washington
    November 4, 2008 at 16:29

    I live in Laurel, MD and there was an incident at the polling station near me. A cop was shot outside the polling station at around 2:15. I didn’t find out until I got to work. I noticed a lot of cops around the area. Plus, I couldn’t sleep at all during the night because there were helicopters flying around. Although, the cop was shot people were still gathered at the polls.

  30. 30 Dawn Messerly
    November 4, 2008 at 16:35

    @selena. It’s possible that they are hiding out. In line to vote yesterday, though, the Obama supporters were so vocal – they made up the vast majority of voters in line. Unless of course some McCain supporters were joining in the Obama cheers and chants. As far as poll workers, however, the shortage of republican workers is actually quantifyable.

  31. 31 chiara
    November 4, 2008 at 17:22

    I’m from Italy and I’m 18 years old… I would totally vote for Obama!!!! Hope with all my heart he’ll win!!!!! America, the change of the world is in your hands… use them carefully and think also of us (from all over the world) when you’ll vote today!

  32. 32 Kenny In Florida
    November 4, 2008 at 17:32

    I voted early, and it happened the day I went to vote at our head county court house it was the same day Michelle Obama was speaking in the downtown center (same center as the court house). I still was in and out in less than 15 minutes even with the busyness of the Michelle rally! Early voting works and many more people should take advantage of this in the future.

    As far as how I’m spending my work day…why I’m at work listening to the BBC of course!

  33. 33 John Paterakis
    November 4, 2008 at 18:47

    Dawn’s comment about the absence of Republican poll workers is interesting. I voted today in New York City, and was mildly amused that almost all of the poll workers seemed to be Republicans (for those not familiar, party affiliation is displayed prominently on the poll worker’s badge.) This in a city where I and my fellow Republicans are very much in the minority.

    And to my fellow Americans: when you vote today, please tell the poll worker “Thank you for your service to our country.” Their work isn’t as dangerous as that of soldiers and policemen (though it may seem that way to them later tonight!), but their job is just as important to our democracy and equally worthy of our gratitude!

  34. 34 gary
    November 4, 2008 at 19:02

    @ selena
    My thoughts are hard for me to explain. Many people are thinking about the result of this election with hope in their hearts; but almost as many are filled with dread. The air is full of predictions both cheery and ominous.
    I’m an old scientist who has carefuly observed many such events. This one has left me cold, as marketting prersentations often do. I do not see in either party, the dawning of an intelligent rapport that might allow real solutions to emerge.
    Mr. Obama may be popular and Mr. McCain may be brave; but they are detested by the opposite party’s leadership. There may be honor and good, as well as evil in both, and in Joe and Sarah as well; but the mechanisms of their candidacy has neatly stripped away their asperities. All real images are obsurred; all informative conversations drowned-out by sound bites.
    I’ve a little bit of distiction as a US voter: I’ve voted, at least once, for every sitting president since coming of age. I’ve spent much time thinking, weighing, and considered the momentous goods and evils potentially engendered by my decision, then I cast my ballot. I’m just down a bit, and I’m beginning to be a little dissapointed in humanity.
    My prediction is a simple one: Mr. Obama will win. But as is said; democrats are poor winners and republicans are poor losers. Four years from now no one will have one anything at all, and then we’ll repeat the process… Gee what can I say? Optimists are happier; but pessimists are more often correct, and I try ever to know the truth.

  35. 35 Kenny In Florida
    November 4, 2008 at 19:09

    @ John Paterakis
    Well said at the end there, we as a country owe a lot to our poll workers. 🙂

  36. November 4, 2008 at 19:13

    I work for the election office here in alaska, well actually the absentee division, and it is so exciting. The amount of absentee voters has gone up by nearly 30,000 from the last presidential election. It is crazy, since I am 27 and have voted in every election since I could, i always urge my friends to get out and vote but this year specially since i am working for the division they are actually responding. Where do I go to vote? Am I registered to vote?
    I love election day there is always such a buzz in the air, excitement in peoples voices, and overall optimism in our hearts about a change and a chance for better tommorrow. Whether or not the canidate you voted for wins, voting is our right and to those that say you are not going to vote, MAKE that a decision and not a oversite of lazyness or whatever, because that right to not vote (while I don’t agree with it) is just as important in our freedoms as americans.
    I vote that we make voting day a national holiday!

  37. 37 gary
    November 4, 2008 at 19:19

    @ selena
    Of course I meant “won.” I did mention I was old. Remember?

  38. 38 selena in Canada
    November 4, 2008 at 19:28


    Four years from now no one will have one anything at all, and then we’ll repeat the process…

    Well said from the voice of experience!

    Would that you could pass your wisdom to the youth? Why do they have to learn the hard way that there is no messiah?

    And we wonder why it takes many generations to effect a small change. 🙂

    Still, no one can say it is not fun to watch!

  39. 39 Sharreace
    November 4, 2008 at 19:54

    I voted on Sunday and stood in line for 4 hours with everyone else waiting to make history. Although my absentee ballot was in hand, and all I had to do was drop it at any polling place, I felt like I wanted to do a little more than vote. I chose to wait with the people, until I reached the polls. It was my way of being a part of the movement and feeling the positive energy that was beaming off of everyone. After voting, I journaled about the sea of emotional people, strangers who became friends in line, and couples who took each others’ pictures while shouting “We did it!”. It was a beautiful experience.

    Thank you Ros and I love BBC!

  40. 40 Jennifer
    November 4, 2008 at 20:03

    Hmm, I’m not sure where these two articles fit in but I found them very interesting!


    Why didn’t they mention the 2 black panthers in PA intimidating voters?


    On Sarah Palin’s health! Too bad this was not released sooner to prevent the abortion/Trig being her grandson rumors!

  41. 41 mandie in cape coral
    November 4, 2008 at 21:49

    I too voted early, but waited for 2 hours. I didnt mind the wait, I actually enjoyed it. I am proud of every citizen the exercises their voting privlage today. Here in SW Florida, lines are still long, but people are in great spirits. They are optimistic that this election will change America not only here, but how we are viewed around the world. I congratulate every person volunteered during the entire campain and may the best man (Barack Obama!) win!

  42. 42 gary
    November 4, 2008 at 22:16

    @ selena.
    I can’t honestly apply “wise” to anyone I know, and most certainly i wouldn’t apply it to myself. However, I have thought myself to sleep most nights with the very concern you raise: How can youth be short-circuited past this bump in the evolutionary trail? We’ve been looking at it for most of 50K years, and it’s so small we can see over the top! I haven’t foresaken hope, though. This little activity of chatting ’bout focused issues with folks from around the globe has possibilities, I think, maybe even more than its founders imagine. We mustn’t let it stop.

  43. 43 Justin
    November 5, 2008 at 02:25

    Regarding Campaign spending Obama and Macain have both been injeckting $money$ into a us economy that needs it desperately so good on both of them and better for all of us.

  44. November 5, 2008 at 06:16

    Hi Ros
    He’s done it. The pregnant woman in the queue waited.
    She did it. Obama is in, the baby is out.
    “Now it’s our turn,” as you say.
    Try to brush away this rubbish!

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