LIVE Blog: Presidential Primary

January 29, 2008

In this LIVE blog, we posted some random thoughts and observations from across the North Escambia area on this election day. We invite you to submit your comments too…let us know if it was busy at your polling place, if you had any problems or just give us your general thoughts about the election. Story ideas are welcome too. Click here to use our contact form to send us your message, or email We won’t use your full name on the site unless we contact you first and ask permission.

Here are our postings so far, with the newest at the top:

10:20 p.m.

It’s been a long day, and this is the last post in our live online election day blog. I want to thank everyone that contacted us today to let us know about voting at their polling place. There will be stories posted in the morning that will detail the results both on a statewide and on a local level.

Some of you asked, so I’ll take a moment to explain the whole “LIVE” thing about this blog. If you are not interested in technical stuff, skip down to where it says “8:30″ in bold print below and then continue reading.

We decided it would an interesting experience to visit each one of the polling places in the North Escambia area. So packed up and headed out a couple of times.

We took  photos will our usual digital camera at each polling place. Then we got back into the car and downloaded the photos to a laptop computer. The photos were edited on site using Adobe Photoshop. The laptop was then “tethered” (“connected”) to a cellular phone using a Bluetooth connection. Then the cellular connection was used to establish a connection to the internet from the polling location, and then the photos and blog postings were uploaded live from each location around the North Escambia area.

Overall, the system worked well. The cellular signal at the Oak Grove Baptist Church was less than stellar, but we found a sport with a workable signal just across the road at the Oak Grove Park.

8:30 p.m.

The major networks are now predicting that McCain will carry Florida with Romney in second. Third is a dead heat between Huckabee and Giulian. For Giuliani it will be a devastating loss; he was pretty much betting everything he had on Florida.

8:15 p.m.

The major networks are now predicting that Clinton will carry Florida with over 50 percent of the vote, with Obama picking up about 30 percent of the vote.

5:20 p.m.

Finally. I made my way back to the Walnut Hill Community Center where I started at 7:45 this morning. My vote is now cast. After the few people behind me voted, the count on the machine was at 350. That’s about 27 percent of the 1,284 voters that turned out in Precinct 11.

This will be the last entry in the blog until later tonight, probably around 8:00 or so. The polls are still open until 7:00, and they will remain open until every voter in line has cast their vote. Join us back here later tonight for preliminary results from Thanks for joining me today on my tour around North Escambia. It was great to meet many of you. If you have not already, take the time to read the older posts below.

4:55 p.m.


We’ve made our way to the McDavid Volunteer Fire Department, home of precinct 18. The flow of voters is very slow here, and there’s just one political sign for Mitt Romney. We’ll be posting another update in a little bit. Make sure you join us later tonight for complete election results as they become available, and again in the morning for a complete look back at today’s vote.

4:30 p.m.


We are live this afternoon from the back parking lot of the Molino Volunteer Fire Department. This is the largest precinct in North Escambia, with 3,284 registered voters. This precinct is a little more Republican than Democrat. The parking lot has been busy, with constant flow of voters going in and out of the polling place. Our informal survey of exiting voters showed a slight edge to McCain, with Romney and Huckabee not far behind. This was, keep in mind, a small informal sampling. Keep checking back…we’ll be posting more in our primary blog soon!

3:45 p.m.

Turnout is still reported to be high across North Escambia. Polls close at 7:00. Get out and vote! More to be posted soon.

2:10 p.m.

W are back from our whirlwind tour of voting precincts across the north half of North Escambia. We hope to visit the other two precincts in the North Escambia area this afternoon. Adding to the Century entry below, we noticed as we visited at the library that a man was setup outside the library from the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) offering free “voter info/help”. He did not want to speak to us on the record. All the comments and emails we have received still indicate no problems. All of the voters we talked to as the exited the polls across the area also reported no problems.

1:20 p.m.

century.jpgWe are now posting live from outside the Century City Hall, Precinct 22. This precinct is very heavily Democratic with 856 registered Democratic voters and just 246 registered Republicans. The only campaign signs out front are for Mitt Romney again. But a quick informal survey of voters exiting the polling place found Clinton and Obama running neck and neck here in Century. This was, of course, a small, unscientific poll.

Some of you have asked…why are we just posting photos from OUTSIDE the polling places, why not INSIDE? Well, that is because Florida law makes it illegal for the media to enter a polling place except to vote. Firemen and police officers too. We’ll have more live updates later this afternoon. Keep you comments coming…scores of you have emailed today and no one has reported any problems except a little confusion on identification. Don’t forget to have your voter registration card and a photo/signature id like a driver’s license. More to come…

12:48 p.m.

byrneville.jpgWe are now live at the Byrneville Community Center, home of Precinct 23. There are 760 registered voters in this precinct. They are just a little more Democratic than Republican here. There have been about a half dozen voters come and go here since we arrived a few minutes ago. The campaign signs are back, unlike at Bratt. If the campaign signs were going to win the vote, Mitt Romney would be far ahead at the polling places we have visited across NorthEscambia. One thing we noticed here: there are some friendly poll workers. Each time the door opens, we hear a voice inside with a happy “hello!” all the way across the parking lot. More live updates to come soon.

12:25 p.m.

bratt.jpg We are live now at Precinct 33…the First Baptist Church of Bratt. Things seem a bit slower here. It’s a medium size precinct, with 552 voters. There are been very few people going in or out since we arrived about 10 minutes ago. Another thing of note…unlike the other precincts we have visited today, there are no campaign signs in front of the precinct. There’s one just east of the church on Highway 4. Otherwise, it’s empty in front of the church right now other than the “Vote Here” signs. More live updates to come.

11:59 a.m.


We are posting this update live from outside Precinct 45 at the Oak Grove Baptist Church along Highway 99. There has been a steady stream of voters in and out of the church since we arrived here. There is construction going on at the church, but it is not interfering with voting in any way. Just park in the “lower” parking lot which is located by the church sign. This is a small precinct, with 373 registered voters split almost evenly along party lines. More live updates coming soon.

11:14 a.m.

The thermometer outside my office just hit 70. The sun is trying to come out. There’s no excuse not to head out and vote. The weather could not be much better for January! More updates coming soon…

10:28 a.m.

Thanks for letting us know about the turnout at your voting precinct. We are getting reports that some precincts are not very busy at the moment—no line, no waiting! Turnout should increase around the lunch hour as people take a break from work. Use that comment form and keep us updated!

9:23 a.m.

Lots more comments rolling in this morning. People are still saying that turnout is good at polling places across the North Escambia area. Some have said it was busier than they remember in many years for a presidential primary. Keep those comments coming!

8:40 a.m.

I’m getting a lot of emails and messages from our contact form…turnout appears to be good at precincts across North Escambia. Nobody has reported having any major problems voting. Don’t forget you need to take your voter id card and a picture and signature id to the polls. Your driver’s license is probably the best id you can take with you.

7:45 a.m.

I met Kerra and Hannah Mascaro waving and smiling with their Ron Paul signs out by Highway 97. That’s what today is all about…getting out and supporting the candidate of your choice. It’s your freedom, and it was nice to see that big American political process working in Walnut Hill. There was a steady stream of voters in and out of the community center. A few people were stopping outside to talk with their friends and neighbors. People were honking and waving at the Mascaro family out by the road with their signs. You can read their story and see the pictures by click here.

As a parent, I liked seeing a mom involve her kids in the political process. Moms and dads…you can take your kids with you when you vote. They can be with you when you mark the ballot. Don’t miss the opportunity. Take your kids when you vote and take the opportunity to explain the whole process to them.

7:30 a.m.

I get a call that someone is outside the Walnut Hill precinct waving a political sign. I don’t want you to think I do or do not support any particular candidate, because I’m not offering any endorsements. But I thought that sounded really cool that someone was actually campaigning and sign waving in tiny Walnut Hill. Grabbed the camera and headed that way.

6:10 a.m.

The polls are open. The folks in Walnut Hill need to remember that their polling place has moved from the gym at Ernest Ward Middle School to the Walnut Hill Community Center, which most people around here just call the Walnut Hill Ruritan Club. The Ruritan building gives more room than the lobby at the gym, and it won’t conflict with activities at the school.

5:55 a.m.

The polls will be opening in just a few minutes. There’s been enough interest in the candidates this year, that I feel like the turnout will be pretty good. Unlike some past years, everywhere I go I here someone talking about the presidential race. Some years folks just don’t turn out on Presidential Primary day since there are no local issues or candidates on the ballot. But don’t forget that the property tax amendment is on the ballot this year.


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