GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- Voting officially started at noon Wednesday, and the ArtPrize headquarters was a buzz of activity. Now, people are spread throughout the city, with their smartphones in hand.
Head to the ArtPrize website, and you'll see the votes coming in by the minute. Nearly 7,000 votes had already been cast in the first six hours of live voting.
Organizers say they anticipated bigger numbers this year, and they prepared for it.
Carol and Walter Manns from Elk Lake were among some of those out early looking at the art. They were leaning toward voting for "Dovetail," a large duck piece from Pennsylvania, sitting outside across the street from Gerald R. Ford Museum.
"It just portrays life and children, imagination. It makes you feel hopeful," they said.
At noon, inside the ArtPrize Headquarters, crowds started filing in to register or activate their registration.
"The password is the last four digits of your drivers license," a volunteer told a visitor.
Friends Debbie Grescowle and Camille Albrecht were among the first in line; and they traveled from Lansing and Whitehall.
"Our daughter from Orlando is here as well so this is a big family event," said Albrecht.
ArtPrize's executive director, Christian Gaines, anticipated more out-of-state visitors; Last year 400,000 people flocked to downtown.
"This year because of a lot of exposure...we're expecting 500,000 people," he said. "Hotel bookings are up."
So Tuesday, staff shut down the website to add extra capacity. Two hours into voting Wednesday, 2,000 votes were cast. By 3 p.m., there were more than 3,600.
Gaines says the site should be fine. He hopes the city can handle all the extra cell service, once people start tapping the app, looking for the more than 1,500 entries, then casting their votes.
"All we can do is wait and see," he said.
Once you register to vote, you must either activate your account at one of the ArtPrize exhibition centers or the HUB.
If you have a smartphone, just cross into the 3 square-mile ArtPrize district downtown.