Auburn residents flocked in large numbers to one of the City’s four polling locations on Tuesday to cast ballots for president, U.S. Senate and several other federal, state and local offices, as well as six proposed statewide amendments.
There were long lines at several polling places, including an hour-long wait at the Frank Brown Recreation Center at noon. The line wrapped around Perry Street and down and snaked down East Drank Avenue, appearing roughly about a half-mile in length.
Former Auburn football coach and Republican senate candidate Tommy Tuberville waited for about 40 minutes to cast his ballot at Frank Brown and was talking with residents at about 12:45 p.m. In an interview with The Plainsman, he encouraged people to go vote.
“I don’t care who you’re voting for, go vote,” he said. “We’ve had two million people in this country die for the right for us to do what we’re doing today, and it’s important that we take that opportunity.”
Plenty of people took that opportunity, including Jesse W. Guffin, who moved to Auburn from Montgomery recently. Guffin, 30, said that while the line was long, things were moving quickly.
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“We were here for less than an hour,” Guffin said. “We started all the way over there,” he continued, pointing at the nearby Harris Center, “and we came all the way around. They’ve got it moving like an efficient machine, so I can’t complain too much.”
People who have lived and voted in Auburn for longer don’t recall lines being this long.
Derek Davis, who has voted at the Frank Brown Recreation Center for years, said this was a new occurrence. Used to, he said he’d be upset if the line came out the door about 20 yards. Still, though, he didn’t have any complaints about today.
Hannah Carroll, 27, showed up at Frank Brown at 5:40 a.m. on Election Day to get in line to cast her ballot. After waiting for an hour with her husband, she had to leave because couldn’t take time off from her job at Opelika High School.
Her husband stuck around though. He didn’t vote until 9:15, over three and a half hours later.
“He was not very happy,” Carroll said.
Once she came home from work, the couple put their five-month-old daughter to sleep, and she showed up to the polls for the second time at around 6:40. She was in and out in about 15 minutes.
Others had issues with large lines early in the morning. Leatha Jones, who lives on Boykin Street near the Boykin Community Center, another one of Auburn’s polling locations, said that when she tried to leave for work Tuesday morning, cars were lining the street.
“I left home at about 6:30, and my driveway was blocked,” Jones said. “I’ve been there for like 18 years, and it’s the first time I’ve ever seen it like that.”
She ended up being late for work that day. But when she came to the Boykin Center that evening to vote, there was no line there either, just like at Frank Brown.
At 10:30 a.m. at the Clarion Inn and Suites on South College Street, another of Auburn’s polling locations, the line extended around the back of the building, and it took about 25–30 minutes to move through the line. By all appearances, it was longer earlier in the morning when the polls opened.
Once again, those who voted said they did not have any complaints about the wait or about their experience casting their vote.
Bill Mullenholz, 74, said that he even felt that the experience inside the voting room was better than in years past. Poll workers were using iPads to check individuals in, which helped speed the process up.
“It was a really good experience,” Mullenholz said. “It surprised me. I thought it would be a lot more crowded.”
Mullenholz was thankful he didn’t see any forms of intimidation at the poll.
“I thought we would see some people out here that I didn’t want to see, trying to sway my vote, and we didn’t see any of that,” he said.
Alex Rodriguez is 22 and works for UPS. He said this was his first time voting, and he had no issues getting in the Clarion or casting a ballot despite the large crowd.
Rodriguez said that he voted for incumbent Donald Trump. He said he felt that Trump has done good things for the economy and he appreciates his tax changes. While the COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult, he said he thought that Trump has handled it pretty well.
Rodriguez voted for Democratic incumbent Doug Jones in the senate race, partly because he felt that Doug Jones’ legal background and experience serving as Senator since 2017 gives him an upper hand over Tuberville.
At both the Clarion and at Frank Brown, there were individuals supporting voters by giving out snacks, waters and sample ballots, as well as by helping individuals who are elderly or have physical disabilities reach the front of the line.
Donna Sollie was at Frank Brown with a table and an ample supply of snacks for her and her fellow volunteers to pass out. Sollie, 69, voted Democrat on Tuesday, but mostly wanted to encourage others to cast a ballot no matter who they vote for.
“We want to encourage people to stay in line,” she said. “The lines will probably get longer as the day goes on, so we are here for the duration and supporting voters.”
Sollie strongly felt that people need to be encouraged to focus on local politics, as she said “change starts at the local level.”
Maryum Mccray, who was passing out sample ballots at Frank Brown, said that while the election of candidates is important, the amendments on the back side of the ballot are just as important.
“This is so important basically because of the amendments; most of us miss that because we’re so focused on who the candidates are, and we’re focused on what they’re wanting to do,” Mccray, 46, said. “The amendments are very important, they’re just as important as the candidates.”
Most voters emphasized an importance of simply casting a ballot more than favoring one candidate or another. When asked if there was any specific issue that brought her out to vote this year, Jones said no — it’s just something that always does, no matter what.
“I always participate, I always vote, because, you know, our ancestors, they fought for this,” Jones said.
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