Colorado's longest wait to vote? Reports of three-hour delays at Aurora's CentrePoint Plaza

Categories: Politics

voter lines thumb.jpg
Big photos below.
Some Arapahoe County voters who wanted to cast their ballots today had to wait in a long line for several hours at one vote center -- prompting some of Colorado's top politicians to visit the site and assess the problem.

At CentrePoint Plaza in Aurora, voters said they had to wait up to two hours, and this morning, according to some elected officials and watchdog groups, there were reports of three-hours-plus delays.

On his way out this afternoon, Nate Danh, 37, said that people were starting to get pretty frustrated inside.

"A lot of people in there are mad," he said. "They're trying to be calm, because they have no choice. But a lot of people don't have time, because they are working and they may only get an hour off from their boss."

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Sam Levin
Governor John Hickenlooper talks to Arapahoe Clerk and Recorder Nancy Doty.
Danh, who works in construction, voted after about an hour-and-a-half, and it wasn't too much of an inconvenience for him, because he had the day off.

But he expected better.

"Four years ago, it was fast, maybe thirty or twenty minutes," he said. "I expect it to be faster. I hope next time, it's better."

He added, "I'm just so happy I'm finished."

At around 2 p.m., Governor John Hickenlooper showed up to the polling site to assess the problem -- and shortly afterward, so did Senator Michael Bennet.

Part of the problem is that in this election, officials in Arapahoe County decided to run 32 vote centers instead of hundreds of polling locations, as the county has in the past. That means voters today could vote at any of those sites, which had more machines -- but at CentrePoint Plaza, it created quite a bottleneck. And while voters do have many different options under this system, it also becomes a bit more complicated, because each site must be able to process ballots for many different local races.

"Obviously, you can't expect people that are working to spend an hour-and-a-half in a line," said Hickenlooper, after surveying the scene. "We had the same thing in Denver in 2006, and it was one of the longest days of my life in public service. People were furious. You can't expect people to wait.

"It is a huge room and it is jammed with people," Hickenlooper added. "We heard stories that there were two-hour waits here."

Some people may leave without voting, he added.

"Both Republicans and Democrats...who's gonna wait? People have jobs," he said. "Hopefully it will resolve itself.... I'm sure they're doing everything they can."

For Democrats, get-out-the-vote efforts today are essential, given that the Republicans have a lead in the early vote period. The latest turnout statistics from the Secretary of State's office show that 670,355 Democrats have voted, compared to 705,085 Republicans.

Arapahoe County Clerk and Recorder Nancy Doty, who chatted with the governor about his concerns, said that from her perspective, things were running very smoothly.

"I expected a high voter turnout, but we have over 80 percent of our voters voting by mail," she said. "We have plenty of machines, but it's just people coming on the last day. They can expect that there might be a wait."

Doty said she heard reports of voters in line for ninety minutes to two hours this morning, though we've heard reports of longer waits.

"I don't want people to wait, but we did have early vote locations and vote-by-mail. There were alternatives. If people come on election day, they may encounter lines," she said, adding, "But some of our locations have no wait times at all."

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Sam Levin
Voters in line
She said that changing from polling places to vote centers was a move that had a lot of support.

"I worked with the parties and the public prior to making this change, and there was total buy-in," she said.

She also said there are around sixteen vote centers in Aurora alone, so people have options -- and this afternoon, she and her staff were directing voters to other centers that had reports of shorter or no lines.

There haven''t been any tensions, she maintained. "Everyone's been very cooperative."

This afternoon, the Secretary of State's office sent out an alert about wait times at CentrePointe, noting that voters should consider casting ballots at these nearby locations, or any of the other sites in the county:

Aurora Professional Learning & Conference Center at 15771 E. First Ave., Aurora, CO 80011

Faith Presbyterian Church at 11373 E. Alameda Ave. Aurora, CO 80012

Aurora Hills Middle School at 1009 S. Uvalda St. Aurora, CO 80012

Continue for more photos and comments from other elected officials and voters.

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It took me nearly 2 hours to vote first thing this morning in Arapahoe County.  About an hour waiting in the regular line, and about another hour in the provisional ballot line.  Even though I had explicitly told the person at the DMV I did not want a mail-in ballot when I registered, I was sent one anyway (I thought they must be sending them to everyone, since I said I didn't want one).  I only learned that having been sent a mail-in ballot precluded me from casting a normal ballot when I got to the registration checkpoint.  I was then sent to the provisional ballot line which only had one person processing us. At least three other people around me in the provisional ballot line also had mail-in ballots sent when they explicitly said they did not want one.

Ben Chamberlain
Ben Chamberlain

and its in colorados black neighborhood (also mine). why am i not surprised?

Mark Slaugh
Mark Slaugh

That's called systemic voter suppression. My guess is you'll see it most in minority and poor neighborhoods. Sickening.

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