Long lines of voters — and a bit of confusion — greeted poll workers and voters when doors to polling places opened across the Omaha metro area on Election Day.
At Joslyn Castle, 3902 Davenport St., volunteer Dorie Gebhard peered through the glass in the landmark's ornate front door minutes before 8 a.m. and saw two people. When she opened the door to invite them inside to warm up before the polls opened, she was greeted by a line of more than 40 people stretching down the stairs and sidewalk.
For some, the wait in a long line was for naught.
Eulla Mitchell went to vote at Dundee Presbyterian Church, 5312 Underwood Ave., and was one of at least a half-dozen people who were told they were at the wrong place. A voter information card Mitchell received in March listed the church as her polling place, but the site was later moved. Mitchell said she didn't receive a card with updated information.
Mitchell said poll workers told her to call the Douglas County Election Commissioner's Office to clear up the matter. She tried, but the office line was busy and she gave up, planning to try again later.
Election Commissioner Dave Phipps said he had heard of a few instances of people showing up at the wrong polling place but said there were no significant voting problems.
Phipps said all county voters were mailed new information cards to reflect precinct and polling place changes after the May primary. The new cards are yellow. The old cards were white.
He said election workers can't tell lost voters where to go because some precincts may have been divided two or three ways.
To find a polling place, call the election office at 402-444-8683. Or go to votedouglascounty.com and type a street address into “Find Your Polling Place.''
Among the voters at Joslyn Castle was first-timer Faushia Weeden, 19, who marked the big day with a Facebook posting.
“I was really excited,'' she said after voting. “I've been telling my friends, I don't care who they vote for but they should vote.''
Lou Caniglia was in the early wave of voters at the First Christian Church polling place, 6630 Dodge St.
“I want to change the change,'' he said. “The economy and the debt are my two main issues. I don't want to max out America's credit cards.''
Beth Llewellyn was among about 70 people who were shuffled through voting booths in the first half-hour of balloting at the church. The line stretched out the door of the youth center and up a concrete ramp at the rear.
“We have a clear choice for the nation's next four years,'' Llewellyn said.
Overstuffed sofas, a pingpong table and a foosball table were pushed into a corner to make room for 13 voting stations and two tables used to split voters into lines based on their last name. The metal ballot box sat atop an eight-sided game table.
Jocelyn Araujo, a 25-year-old registered nurse, voted after getting off a 12-hour work shift.
“I'm voting for health care and ensuring our country's future,'' she said.
P.J. Harding, 48, said he has voted in every election since age 18.
“It's our right and it's our duty,'' he said.
Bruce Vosburg said his No. 1 issue was the economy “and getting the country back on track.''
Sarpy County Election Commissioner Wayne Bena said lines appeared to be moving smoothly. Long lines when polls opened would have been even longer without early voting, he said.
About 26,000 Sarpy County voters received early-voting ballots. All but about 1,500 were returned by Monday, Bena said. The deadline for early-voting ballots to be returned to designated locations is 8 p.m. today.
Phipps has estimated that 85,000 people in Douglas County would vote early, topping the 60,000 in 2008. At least 45,000 have returned ballots and 14,000 others voted early in person, he said.
At least 40 people were waiting to vote at Lord of Love Church, near 105th and Fort Streets, when the polls opened today. The line stretched down the sidewalk, and some waited 20 minutes to vote. Two lines formed inside the doors. The lucky ones were those with surnames starting with A through K. That was the shorter line.
World-Herald staff writer Connie White contributed to this report.
Contact the writer: 402-444-1127, firstname.lastname@example.org