Voters pack the polls in Platteville

The room was hot and busy.  Lines of people intersected and moved seemingly at random.  The public who filled the gym meandered confused as those in charge rushed to instill order.
Election night was upon the city of Platteville.
Registered and unregistered voters from districts one, two and four mingled in the small gym located in National Guard Armory on N. Water St. Tuesday, Nov. 6, waiting for their chance to vote in the Presidential election.
By 5 pm, over 100 soon-to-be voters packed the crowded gymnasium, and their displeasure with the voting process was obvious.
Signs directing people to their proper line were blocked by the mass of people, each seemingly as confused as the next.  Polling authorities scampered to help everyone they could, but it was an unwinnable battle.
The line to the voting booths for district four started on one side of the gymnasium and circled and snaked to the opposite side, intersecting several other lines of voters for other districts.
“I think they need to divide (district) four up better,” said Cheryl Thompson, a resident of Platteville for 15 years and registered voter since 2000.
At 6 p.m., when she made the statement, Thompson had been in line for over an hour and would have to wait nearly another half-hour before she could take her turn at the voting booth.
“Including Rountree Commons in (district four) was a mistake on the planners part,” said Sam Lubbe, a Platteville resident of five years and first-time voter.  “It’s pretty FUBAR right now.”
“The voting process needs to be more dynamic,” said Scotty Wertel, a two-year Platteville resident, participating in his third voting process at the armory.  “It needs to be based on more than just boundaries.”
Wertel said the process could use modernizing, adding that when he lived in Menominee just a few years prior, all of his voting necessities were fulfilled electronically.
When Wertel and Thompson were nearing being able to mark their ballots, the average wait time for a voter in district four was nearly two hours.  People were beginning to voice their disappointment.
“This is completely unacceptable,” said an anonymous voter in the crowd, as the shuttle service dropped off more voters.
“If I’m in this line for another hour, I’m out,” another said.  “I really don’t care.”
And yet 90 minutes later, there he stood, watching Avatar on his iPod to ease the wait.
Even Wertel, who had two young boys at home waiting to go to a Boy Scouts meeting, remained, patiently awaiting his turn at utilizing the democratic process.
“It’s my civic duty,” Wertel said.  “It’s not just for the Presidential vote.  The others play an important role, too.”
“I believe it’s our duty to vote,” Thompson said.  “It’s one of the few freedoms I have left.”