Joan Bernard of Greenville thought she had the wrong place when she went to vote Tuesday afternoon at the Blue Ball Barn.
“There wasn’t anybody there,” she said. She had been hearing stories about long lines from friends and relatives all day when she went about 2:30 p.m.
She was the only one voting.
Bernard asked a poll worker if the situation was normal.
“Are you kidding?” he asked. “We have been slammed all day. This is a break right here.”
Her story was rare Tuesday, maybe unique. Polling places that had long lines in early morning saw those lines slack off by mid afternoon, but pick up as quitting time was rolling around.
David McGowan of Middletown watched the line of voters at St. Georges Technical High School from his home all morning and decided to try his luck at 12:16 p.m. He was told that his wait could be an two and one-half hours.
The line was moving along and then just stopped for a half hour when McGowan was about halfway to the voting area. He left, because he had to pick his son up from school.
With 130,000 ballots cast before the election via absentee and vote by mail, some wondered if the polls would be packed, but they were. Gov. John Carney said Tuesday afternoon that he expected a record voter turnout.
Allan Angel, a Democrat running for 3rd District Levy Court in Dover, said Cheswold was the busiest polling place he had been to out of the nine he visited.
Calling the voter turnout “unprecedented,” he said he thought that if he added up the number of voters in every election he’s been in so far, it would equal the number of voters out on Tuesday.
Polls close at 8 pm., but sites that have voters waiting in line must allow them all to vote.
Those casting ballots in person said they wanted to make sure their votes counted, so they didn’t vote by mail.
David Anderson, voting at Fred Fifer Middle School in Camden, said he’s OK with voting by mail and has voted that way himself.
“But I’m a big believer in the machines because we spend tens of millions of dollars so that votes are counted quickly and easily, and I think they should be encouraged,” he said. “When I can, I just like showing up and voting.”
Sisters Julia and Lauren Pala, both University of Delaware students, voted for Trump at Hockessin PAL Center. They said it took them five minutes in early afternoon.
“We have a small business (Pala Bros. Furniture in Elsmere), and Trump supports small business,” Julia said.
If Biden wins, Lauren said, “It will be a little bit of an upset, but you kind of have to respect both views.”
Not all voters voted for a straight ticket.
Terry and Al Sanchez said while waiting to vote at Brandywine High School that they were going to vote straight Democratic, with one exception.
They had dropped by the school early in the morning and the line there wrapped all around the building. Friends were telling them they waited an hour to hour and one-half to vote. There was still a line when the Sanchezes came back after lunch, but after 15 minutes, they were near the doors.
They chose Biden for president. “I don’t know how you cannot,” Al said. “Everything out of Trump’s mouth is untrue, it seems like. He keeps flip flopping. He’s not trustworthy.”
“I would like to see COVID go away,” Terry said, “and I think he would be the best person for the job.”
They picked Republican state Sen. Cathy Cloutier in what’s been described as a tight race.
“I know she’s Republican, but I think she’s done a good job for us,” Al said. “I’m an independent, so I’m just voting what I think is the best. This lines up most with Democratic, but I don’t vote party lines.”
Terry said she’s been really happy with what the current Delaware administration has done with COVID-19.
“I think we’ve been hit less hard than some of the other states,” she said. “I certainly hope they get in.”
Staff writer Daniel Larlham Jr. contributed to this report.