While election volunteers were scrambling to set up voting equipment at the Victory World Outreach in southeast Colorado Springs just after 6 a.m. Tuesday, Allan Westphal was waiting patiently.
“I wanted to be first,” said Westphal, a 65-year-old retired Vietnam veteran. “ I thought there’d be a long line.”
Westphal arrived at the polling place just before 6 a.m. and by 6:20 he was still the only voter in line. But it didn’t take long after that for others to start trickling in to the Pentecostal church on South Academy Boulevard.
By the time the polls opened at 7 a.m., there were more than 100 people ready to weigh in on what Westphal called the most important election in a long time.
“It’s very important,” Westphal said, calling himself a conservative Democrat. “I don’t think we can stand four more years of what we just had. It’s the future of our country.”
Westphal voted at The Citadel mall in 2008, he said, and had to wait in line more than two hours despite arriving when the polls opened.
John Sanchez, who is on the pastoral staff at Victory World Outreach, was at the polling place early Tuesday to greet voters. He said 2012 marks the second time in which the church has been a voting location. The first was in 2010 and Sanchez said the facility had a large turnout for that non-presidential election.
James Kelley, 52, arrived at the Masonic Lodge on Panorama Drive in western Colorado Springs at about 7:05 a.m. to find about 50 people in line. Kelley quickly became concerned when it appeared to him that election workers didn’t have the process fine-tuned for the election.
Kelley said one worker told him that several volunteers hadn’t even shown up to work. The 52-year-old was worried that errors might be made and votes might be recorded inaccurately.
“They were really struggling with what they were supposed to do,” Kelley said. “They were struggling so much, I just wanted to get in and get out.”