Poll vaulting: Early turnout heralds a record

Tuesday, November 2, 2004. After millions of dollars, thousands of interviews, hundreds of polls, and four debates, America finally decides who will run the country for the next four years.

Presidential voting years tend to have the biggest turnout, and this one in particular has been extremely active. The City of Charlottesville boasts a population of 39,162, some of whom rose early to vote in one of eight precincts around town.

Downtown, at the Recreation precinct, voters lined up at 6am to cast their ballots on tablet-style eSLATE voting machines. Most voters were jovial– if a little sleepy– and election officials kept everything moving calmly: every name was triple checked before voters moved behind a blue curtain to twiddle the dial.

Outside the Rec Center, electioneering was moderate. Democrats offered coffee and lollipops to exiting voters. Republicans had not arrived by 9am, though they did have a table set up. Even the Libertarians made it out to push for their candidate.

Voting is probably the most important right Americans have. This year, even though voters appeared to be turning out in record numbers, a smooth process could prove again that democracy still prevails.

Voters learned how to use the eSLATE.

Fran Lawrence and Blake Caravati electioneer early in the morning, while Brian McLaughlin and Grant Wiens watch over the distance marker.

Early risers wait in line to cast a ballot at the Downtown Recreation precinct.

This marker means business!