If President Barack Obama could have had it his way, each of the nearly 146 million Americans registered to vote would have already done so well ahead of Election Day 2016, regardless of whom they were casting their ballot for. The sitting president, and valued surrogate for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, has been calling on citizens to vote early at polling places already operating in the final weeks of the presidential campaign.
But just like each of the modern American elections prior to this year’s polarizing campaign season, early voter turnout will only make up a minority of the final votes cast for either candidate, as the large majority of voters turn out in droves all day on Nov. 8 to elect the next commander in chief.
And just like every other Election Day in recent history, lines and waiting times can be expected at polling places across the country.
Voters typically head to the polls at three specific time intervals each election day: early mornings, business lunch hours and immediately after work. Long lines can be expected in many suburban and city areas during these times, but can be avoided by planning ahead and informing employers of a voter’s intention to cast a ballot during work time.
"Taking an early lunch if probably your best bet to avoid lines," Ryan Borek, executive director of the federally regulated youth-issues political action committee Take A Stand 527, told International Business Times in a phone interview. "Early mornings at polling places will have a lot of people white-collar workers heading to work. In the afternoon, there are going to be people with longer lunches, and evenings are usually full of blue-collar workers... If you’re in an incredibly rural area, it likely doesn’t matter much what time you vote."
Employees hoping to avoid the lines and chaos of a crowded polling place can ask their business for an early lunch time prior to noon, which should allow for a quick and easy voting experience. Dependent on local demographics, voters may be able to enjoy a line-free voting experience anytime before 4 p.m., when the majority of American voters begin heading to cast their ballots before polls close at 9 p.m.
Still, that isn’t to say long lines and polling place frenzies are ever completely avoidable. Unprecedented long lines have already been reported at early voting polling locations across the nation, including the metro areas of Phoenix and counties in Los Angeles.
Polling places are available online.