Few Election Day complaints heard in Tarrant, Parker counties

Posted Tuesday, Nov. 06, 2012  comments  Print Reprints

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There is a first time for everything.

For some it was the first time they had voted in a presidential election.

For others, it was the first time they had cast ballots in a new location.

And while there was some confusion -- and, at times, long lines -- Election Day in Tarrant County appeared to go off without any major glitches.

Tarrant County Elections Administrator Steve Raborn said some locations were busier than others and election officials had to deliver extra supplies -- statement of residence cards and provisional ballots.

While complaints were phoned into the elections office, Raborn said, "We haven't really had anything out of the ordinary."

Location is everything

Despite repeated warnings from Raborn and others to check out where to go before Election Day -- some polling places were changed for convenience and to reflect new political boundaries -- some voters complained that they went to several precincts before finding their correct polling place.

Bill Kilborne who voted a straight Democratic ticket, started his morning at a precinct where he voted in previous elections, but soon learned he was in the wrong place.

"I didn't get notified; this [Daggett Elementary School in Fort Worth] was my second stop this morning," Kilborne said.

At North Hi Mount Elementary in Fort Worth, an irate voter could not find the polling place because it was moved from the front of the school to the back gym. At noon, a worker posted more signs along West Seventh Street to point voters in the right direction.

One of the new voting sites in Arlington was at the Woodland West Church of Christ on Park Row Drive. It replaced the old polling place next door at Duff Elementary School on Lynnwood Drive.

At about 2 p.m. more than 500 people had voted at the church. An election judge said that there had been a steady flow of voters and that they were expecting an after-work rush. A large number of voters in the precinct apparently had taken advantage of early voting, the judge said.

She added that while the new location was better than the one they had used at Duff -- at the church there is a large parking lot and less mingling of voters with kids trooping through the hallways -- there was some confusion among residents who had voted at the school for years.

When one voter looked confused and started to walk off, an election judge ran out to tell him that he could vote at the church.

Raborn said the county doesn't send voters information in the mail, other than voter registration cards every two years. The county had posted the information on voting location on Facebook and notified the media that there were changes.

"If polling places change since the last county election, signs are posted in the old location. But there are some who only vote in presidential elections," he said.

Also, during the primaries, political parties used fewer polling places meaning a voter may have a different polling site for the general election, he said. If someone shows up at the wrong precinct, election workers were able to direct people to the correct voting site, he said.

A first-time voter

Even with those miscues, some voters couldn't contain their enthusiasm about getting to cast ballots for their favorite candidates.

For Ericka Rodriguez, 19, it was the first time she had voted. She was one of a steady stream of voters at Daggett.

She said her brother "made" her watch the presidential debates so that she could learn about the issues,

"This is my first time; my brother got me to register to vote," Rodriguez said as she walked toward her car after casting her ballot. Rodriquez said she hoped Barack Obama will win his second term as president.

A line of more than a dozen voters stretched out the front doors at Tanglewood Elementary School during one of the busiest times of the day at the school -- around 7:40 a.m. -- when parents drop their children off for the beginning of the school day. Voters waited about half an hour in a line that stretched down the sidewalk and to the street.

"It's awesome," said Sally Beezley, a Tanglewood mom who waited in line to vote with her husband, Mark.

When Lee Anjanette Smith Woody went to vote, she learned she had a choice in ballots: paper or the eSlate voting machine that is used for early voters.

"Of course I took paper along with four seniors [citizens]," Woody, who cast her ballots at Paschal High School, posted on Facebook. "We rocked the vote in 3 minutes while 20 others (all young by the way) stood in line waiting for 1 electronic booth!"

Scott Anderson of Fort Worth was among the many who voted today at the Northwest Branch of the library.

He described the experience as "smooth as silk."

"Walked right up to the table, got my paper ballot, voted and was gone in less than five minutes," he said.

At the Feast of Sharing event at the Will Rogers Memorial Center, where free meals were provided to 5,800 people Tuesday, Phyllis McBride Robinson, who said she is homeless -- she has a place to stay this week, but may have to go to the Presbyterian Night Shelter next week -- proudly showed off her "I voted" sticker and said she voted for Obama.

As of 5:30 p.m., fewer than 400 had cast ballots at Donna Shepard Intermediate School in Mansfield. Election Day had gone without incident, precinct judge Tom May said. "We could handle more voters," he said.

Some folks had to be reminded to put away their cellphones, "but nobody has done anything inappropriate," May said. "Our goal was to provide a pure voting process."

At Benbrook's main fire station, workers also reported a healthy turnout.

Patti Faulkner, who lives in Benbrook, said she voted a straight Republican ticket and hoped for a landslide for Mitt Romney.

"Let's see how it goes tonight; it's hard to tell," she said.

But Benbrook resident Jack Gregory said he was glad the election season is winding down.

"I am tired of the 'robocalls,'" Gregory said. Monday, Gregory said he got several calls from various political campaigns. "When I heard the call was political, I hung up," he said.

Parker parking woes

In Parker County, at Precinct 330 at the Tin Top Fire Station, there was an early-morning printer glitch that delayed the poll opening by almost 30 minutes.

Several of the 25 people waiting in line to vote also complained about the parking situation because election officials had the driveway to the fire station blocked off with orange cones, leaving about five parking spaces on the north side of the building.

The road has no shoulder to park on, so voters ignored the cones and parked in the driveway anyway. One voter said besides the blocked driveway, he was concerned about the voting line forming around the fire trucks in case of an emergency situation.

Tin Top Volunteer Fire Department is not a working department anymore. Parker County Fire Marshall's office said it is unclear whether the fire hall is in use by another volunteer department.

Staff writers Susan McFarland, Max B. Baker, Patrick Walker, Anna M. Tinsley and Joyce Marshall contributed to this story.

Elizabeth Campbell, 817-390-7696

Twitter: @fwstliz

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