17 of the most unique places Americans have voted

Max Kalnitz
·7 min read
Venice Beach lifeguard headquarters in Los Angeles.
Surfer Mike Weigart pictured on Election Day in 2012. Reed Saxon/AP
  • Election Day is hours away. Some people will vote in churches or schools, but others will head to unique locations like museums, motorcycle dealerships, and laundromats. 

  • In 2012, surfers voted wearing wetsuits at the Venice Beach lifeguard headquarters in Los Angeles, California.

  • A group of US astronauts was supposed to vote in space this year until their mission was delayed. The practice has been common since 1997.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Although a record number of people have already voted in the 2020 election, millions are still expected to head to the polls on November 3 to cast their ballots. 

Some voters will travel to usual neighborhood polling places in churches, school gymnasiums, or community centers. But others will cast their votes in less obvious locations like hair salons, museums, restaurants, and even laundromats. 

From the quirky to the unexpected, here are 17 unique polling places people have voted in the past. 

Some voters will head to the Brooklyn Museum in Brooklyn, New York, on Election Day this year.

Brooklyn Museum polling station in Brooklyn, New York.
The Brooklyn Museum. ANGELA WEISS/Getty Images

This Election Day the Brooklyn Museum will once again open its doors to voters. To celebrate Americans' right to vote, the museum is displaying Ed Ruscha's "OUR FLAG," which it calls "a windswept, torn, and threadbare American flag that invokes the precarious nature of democracy."

The museum is also offering programming and highlighting movements like Plan Your Vote,  an artist-led initiative encouraging citizens to exercise their right to vote. 

But it's far from the only unique polling place. In 2012, surfers in wetsuits showed up to the Venice Beach lifeguard headquarters in Los Angeles, California.

Venice Beach lifeguard headquarters in Los Angeles.
Surfer Mike Weigart pictured on Election Day in 2012. Reed Saxon/AP

While voting in the 2012 presidential election at Venice Beach lifeguard headquarters in Los Angeles, California, 30-year-old surfer Mike Weigart told the AP, "It's awesome the polling place is where I surf." 

Voters cast their ballots in the 2016 presidential primary as swimmers completed laps in the Echo Park Deep Pool in Los Angeles, California.

Echo Park Deep Pool in Los Angelos, California.
A polling place at the Echo Park Deep Pool in Los Angeles, California. Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

The pool is currently closed due to COVID-19 concerns but is normally open year-round for activities including diving, water polo, and synchronized swimming. 

In 2006, voters cast their midterm ballots at a polling place inside Visions Hair Salon in Downey, California.

Visions Hair Salon in Downey, California.
Voters at Visions Hair Salon in Downey, California. ROBYN BECK /Getty Images

According to Getty, it's common for businesses as well as private homes in Southern California to be used as polling stations on Election Day. In this picture, Visions Hair Salon was used as a polling place for the 2006 midterm elections. 

Voters waited in line at a fire station in Arlington, Virginia, to vote during Super Tuesday in 2016.

Fire Station #10 in Arlington, Virginia.
Voters at Fire Station #10 in Arlington, Virginia. SAUL LOEB/Getty Images

Voters wait in line to cast their ballots at Fire Station 10 in Arlington, Virginia. 

Thousands of cremated remains surrounded voters casting their ballots at the Neptune Society Columbarium in San Francisco, California.

Neptune Society Columbarium poll.
Voters at the Neptune Society Columbarium. David Paul Morris/Getty Images

The Neptune Society Columbarium, built in 1898, is a historic landmark and home to 8,500 cremated human remains, many of which belong to famous names including former San Francisco Mayor Edward Robeson Taylor and the parents of Carlos Santana. It turns into a polling place during elections. 

Taquerias Los Comales in Chicago, Illinois, isn't just a respected Mexican restaurant, it has also served as a polling place.

Taquerias Los Comales in Chicago, Illinois.
Voters casting ballots at Taquerias Los Comales in 2012. John Gress/Getty Images

On any normal day, patrons would be lining up at Taquerias Los Comales in Chicago, Illinois, for the joint's Mexico City-style tacos. But on Election Day in 2012, voters were there to cast their ballots.

In the 2018 midterm elections, a Harley Davidson dealership in Long Beach, California, turned into a polling place.

Harley Davidson dealership
A Harley Davidson dealership in Long Beach, California. MARK RALSTON/Getty Images

During midterm elections in 2018, Moises Valentin, a pastor voting at the Long Beach polling place, told Rappler, "Usually we vote in the schools or churches. Yeah, it's unusual actually, now that I think of it."

Levele Wiley, an employee at Los Angeles International Airport, told the site, "It's pretty cool. I mean, it's nice to come look at some bikes and get your vote on. In that sense, nothing seems more American than that."

A museum-goer observed artwork as people voted in the 2016 presidential election at the Swedish American Museum in Chicago, Illinois.

The Swedish American Museum in Chicago, Illinois.
The Swedish American Museum in Chicago, Illinois. TASOS KATOPODIS/Getty Images

When the Swedish American Museum isn't being used as a polling place, tourists often visit the Brunk Children's Museum of Immigration, use the site's genealogy center, or try Swedish food, according to its website

It can no doubt get a little cramped on Election Day in this one-room schoolhouse in Colo, Iowa.

Old school house in Colo, Iowa.
A one-room schoolhouse in Colo, Iowa. Scott Morgan/Reuters

Schools are a common location for polling places, but few have as much history as this one-room schoolhouse, which served as a polling place in the 2016 presidential election. 

In previous elections, you could shop and vote at the Foodland grocery store in National City, California.

Voters in a grocery store in National City, California.
Foodland grocery. Mike Blake/Reuters

Grocery stores are normally a popular location for polls but this year the coronavirus is making them less safe, leading states like Texas to opt for other polling spaces. 

Su Nueva Lavanderia in Chicago, Illinois, has also doubled as a polling place.

Su Nueva Lavanderia in Chicago, Illinois.
Su Nueva Lavanderia. Jim Young/Reuters

During past elections, voters were able to knock two items off their to-do list: laundry and voting. 

People voted in the 2016 presidential election as mechanics worked on cars at a Philadelphia auto shop.

Auto garage in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
An auto shop turned into a polling place for the 2016 election. Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images

You might be able to vote and get your car serviced at the same time if your polling place is an auto garage. 

Ray Lounsberry has turned his farm shed near Nevada, Iowa, into a polling place for more than 15 years.

Farm shed near Neveda, Iowa.
Ray Lounsberry's farm shed. Scott Morgan/Reuters

According to the Ames Tribune, each election, Ray Lounsberry — who was 93 during the 2016 presidential election — wakes up at 6 a.m. to turn on the heat in his shed and set up the voting machines. He offers the roughly 300 voters assigned to the precinct coffee and frees up space in a refrigerator for poll workers' lunches. 

Lounsberry told the outlet that he doesn't mind sharing his shed; in fact, he volunteered it after voting at a different shed years ago that had very little heat, which he felt discouraged people from going out and voting. 

"I feel like I'm doing a service to the county by letting them use this," Lounsberry said. "I don't mind at all."

The Mockingbird Valley Soccer Club in Louisville, Kentucky, served as a polling place last year.

Mockingbird Vally Soccer
Voters at Mockingbird Valley Soccer club. John Sommers II/Reuters

A line of voters cast their ballots inside the Mockingbird Valley Soccer club in Louisville, Kentucky. 

Flying 200 miles above polling places doesn't stop astronauts from voting in space.

Shane Kimbrough
US Astronaut Shane Kimbrough in 2016. Ivan Sekretarev/AP Photo

Since the 1997 passing of Rule 81.35 in the Texas state legislature (NASA's Johnson Space Center is located in Houston, where many astronauts live) astronauts have been able to use a special electronic absentee ballot to vote from outer space, according to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

The law states that "a person who meets the eligibility requirements of a voter under the Texas Election Code, Chapter 101, but who will be on a space flight during the early-voting period and on Election Day, may vote."

Astronauts on NASA's Space-X Crew-1 had anticipated voting from space this year but will be on Earth for Election Day because their mission was delayed to mid-November. 

Voters cast their ballots inside the beautiful Krishna Temple in Salt Lake City, Utah, which was modeled after Rajasthani architecture.

Krishna Temple in Utah.
The Krishna Temple in Salt Lake City, Utah. Rick Bowmer/AP

Churches are commonly used as polling places, but voting at a Hindu temple in the heart of Mormon country is truly unique. 

Read the original article on Insider