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Election late morning: Kirkwood and Sunset Hills

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 4, 2008 - At Kirkwood City Hall, where the wait to vote was two hours shortly after the polls opened at 6 a.m., voters were casting their ballots in about 40 minutes by late morning.

Bill Curson, 72, a retired contractor from Kirkwood, split his ballot, voting for Republican candidate John McCain for president and Democrat Jay Nixon for governor.

He said he simply could not bring himself to vote for Barack Obama, a man he says was too green for the nation's top job.

"Just not enough experience," he said.

Similarly, 43-year-old Craig Collins, another Kirkwood voter, also split his vote the same way. He said reports of Obama's ties to "more radical people" frightened him away from the Democratic candidate.

"I'm not comfortable with the whole anti-American thing," said Collins.

In Sunset Hills, waits of up to an hour and a half by late morning were making it difficult for some people to vote.

Ernest Skiles, 79, a retired chemical engineer, said he had first arrived at the polling place early Tuesday morning, but decided the long wait at that time would have been too painful for his ailing back. When he returned, he said, a young woman volunteered to hold his place in line while he sat in a lawnchair in the shade of the municipal building.

Still, he was not complaining. "I've worked the polls; I know it can take a while," he said.

Several people at the polling place, in fact, had brought their own chairs. Each time the line moved, there was a noticeable scraping of aluminum legs on the sidewalk as voters moved their chairs a few more places forward. One woman who arrived shortly before noon, asked from her car how long her wait would be. Told it was more than an hour, she grimaced, remarked "I'll come back later," and quickly drove away.

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