For those of you worried that long waits at the ballot box will keep people from voting, Portland, at least, seems free and clear. I stopped by the Multnomah County Elections office at 10am and wasn't surprised to see a line 20 people long wrapping around the inside of the building. But people who stopped by there to change their address and vote or check their signature said the wait wound up being only 5-10 minutes. I don't know what the wait is now during the lunch rush, but the staff seemed to be handling everyone pretty well and no one tried to shred any ballots or turn away Youth Voters while I watched. It helps that most people have already turned in their votes - on OPB radio this morning, Bill Bradbury confirmed that 66 percent of registered voters had already handed in their ballots. That means the elections workers have already counted a bunch of the ballots. OMG SOMEONE IN THE BACK OF THE ELECTIONS BUILDING ALREADY KNOWS THE RESULTS BUT WE WON'T FIND OUT TILL 8PM!! Maddening. Nothing to do but keep breathing and distract myself with cookies, I guess.
Outside the elections building I found a young woman named Alex Ladiznsky filling out her ballot right on the sidewalk. She was "extremely hopeful" about the election, though still somewhat paranoid. "This is the first time in generations that my family has voted Democrat," Ladiznksy said, explaining that between three jobs and classes at the Art Institute she didn't have time to turn in her ballot till today, "We trusted the polls last time and the polls were off." Her favorite conspiracy theory of the moment: If McCain wins "he will drop off in the first year and they [the Republican leadership] will be like, 'We have this beautiful puppet who's semi-retarded as president. We can do anything!'"