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Local polls close with lines of voters still waiting

Published: Monday, November 05, 2012 @ 9:08 PM
Updated: Tuesday, November 06, 2012 @ 8:11 PM

All polling locations in Ohio closed at 7:30 p.m. We got some reports of voters who were in line still waiting at that time. Anyone who was in line at closing time is legally allowed to cast their ballot.

Throughout the day, readers and viewers have added information to our crowd-sourced map. See where problems were reported this Election Day: 2012 Election Polling Issues Map

7:30 p.m.: As polls officially closed, some locations still had lines of people waiting to vote. Anyone who was in line at 7:30 p.m. will have their vote counted. We are hearing voting could continue at some locations for more than a half hour.

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7:15 p.m.: We’ve confirmed that Dayton Police and Montgomery County Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the polling place at Mount Pisgah Baptist Church, 1 Diamond Ave. at about 5:15 p.m. for a disorderly subject. No one was arrested, according to a Sergeant with the Regional Dispatch Center.

6:35 p.m.: With less than one hour until the polls close, the longest lines of the day are being reported at some polling locations. Two churches in Centerville reportedly have wait time of more than an hour. South Dayton Presbyterian Church, 1180 East Alex Bell Road, and Centerville Church of Christ, 1411 Old Spring Valley Court.

Some voters at South Dayton Presbyterian said they had been standing in line more than two hours. Jennifer and Mary Anne Dodaro of Centerville said the line stretched outside into the bitter cold and for a while this evening there were no lights on in the parking lot.

The Montgomery County BOE said earlier today that as long as voters are in line at 7:30 p.m. when polls close, their vote will be processed.

5:54 p.m.: Patients who couldn’t head to the polls because they were hospitalized got a helping hand voting Tuesday from one local health-care system.

Anne Ecklar, manager of patient relations for Kettering and Sycamore Medical Centers in the Kettering Health Network, said 20 to 25 patients at the two hospitals and at Kettering Behavioral Medicine Center received absentee ballot applications. Patients had the option of having the ballots returned to the Montgomery County Board of Elections by a family member or having them collected by board staff Tuesday, Ecklar said.

“We wanted to make sure they got the opportunity to care out their civil right to vote today,” Ecklar said. “Nobody chooses to be hospitalized.”

The network provides the service every election, Ecklar said. “Certainly there was a lot more interest this time than we’ve seen with the less important elections.”

5:30 p.m.: Dayton Daily News report Josh Sweigart reports that officials with a nationwide nonpartisan election watchdog group announced this afternoon they had received calls from Ohio about problems with voter identification, absentee ballots and machines malfunctioning.

In Hamilton County they received reports that voters were being required to vote with provisional ballots if their drivers license doesn’t match the voter rolls, which is not what the law requires.

Barbara Arnwine, executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said the group called Hamilton County and asked them to educate poll workers today but “they have refused to do so despite our direct request.”

Other calls from the Cleveland area involved poll workers not accepting valid ID.

Parts of the state are also having problems with absentee ballots not matching up property with voter registration lists, especially in Cleveland. This has the tendency to be a problem across the state, they said.

Finally, voting machine malfunctions have been reported across the state.

This has contributed to long lines in polling places across Ohio, according to Arnwine. But the main driver of long lines in Ohio and other states she said was the decision to scale back the number of days people could vote early.

“Because these states cut back the times for early voting it has led to the overload of the polling places,” she said.

The group’s voting problems hotline, (866) 687-8683, received 71,849 calls from across the country by 5 p.m.

Problems in other states included massive issues with voting amid storm cleanup in New Jersey, Pennsylvania voters being mysteriously removed from the rolls and roughly 12,000 Florida voters getting a call from their local elections office mistakenly saying election day is Wednesday.

5:10 p.m.: Greene County BOE Deputy Director Llyn McCoy said she expects to be finished tabulating by midnight and doesn’t expect the issues with paper ballots her office experienced in 2008. She has revised her prediction of voter turnout down to 70 percent. Turnout was 71 percent in 2008. Voting is heavy at the Vineyard Church and the County Fairgrounds and steady everywhere else, she said.

4:49 p.m.: Here is a tentative timeline for results tonight provided by the Montgomery County BOE:

  • At 7:45 p.m., BOE expects to release the absentee total, which will include all early votes cast prior to election day, all absentee ballots that have been returned, any nursing home ballots and all military ballots received. “At this point we should be release results for about 72,000 voters,” Harsman said
  • 8:20 p.m., Precinct results should be coming in. Then the results will be updated every 15 minutes.
  • Midnight - BOE should have about 95 to 98 percent of all ballots tabulated.
  • 1 a.m., Paper ballots will be completed sometime after midnight. All ballots are not tabulated until we issue the official final results and I expect that to happen around 1 to 2 a.m. in the morning.

4 p.m.: Controversy over provisional ballots

Confusion erupted at a polling place at Vineyards Church on North Main Street in Dayton around 7:30 a.m. when voter Sarah Caplan, 31, tried to vote a paper ballot and was told it would have to be provisional.

Caplan said she voted paper because voting machines were down and the line for paper voting was shorter. But problems began when they gave her the ballot and it only had one page. Then they told her it was a provisional ballot and she would have to go to the Board of Elections to make sure it’s counted.

That’s when a poll watcher got involved, Caplan said. “He said ‘yours is a good vote they’re not going to count,’” she said. A police officer who was there talked to the man, but he was not removed.

“What was finally said to me was the Board of Elections knows about it and they’re going to watch out for your ballot and make sure it gets counted. I’m not confident in that.”

She said she doesn’t believe it had anything to do with voter suppression. “I think it is staggering incompetence,” she said. “I don’t know how many people had this happen and voted provisional and didn’t realize it.”

The Dayton Unit of the NAACP also issued a statement this afternoon expressing concern over provisional ballots.

“The Dayton Unit NAACP is highly concerned about the number of provisional ballots being cast and non-operable ballot boxes in this year’s election,” the organization said in a statement.

The NAACP said they have received reports of doors locked, provisional ballot issues and inoperable machines at several Dayton locations, including Belle Haven PreK-8 School (provisional ballot issues and doors locked), St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church (provisional ballot issues) and Northwest Recreational Center (three machines not operable).

The BOE said that 300 people have cast provisional ballots at the BOE as of 3 p.m. today and that was higher than usual. However, Director Steve Harsman said Montgomery County was not expected to have as many provisional ballots cast as other counties across the state.

3:20 p.m.: At a 3 p.m. press conference, Montgomery County Board of Elections Director Steve Harsman voting has been going smoothly today and all earlier reported problems with voting machines have been addressed.

2:33 p.m.: Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer said deputies have been called to a couple polling locations to deal with minor issues such as people carrying campaign materials within 100 feet of the voting polls and medic calls where some people have become ill while waiting in line to vote.

Deputies were also called out to a polling location in Miami Township after someone complained about someone placing campaign literature on parked cars.

Earlier updates:

  • About 85,000 absentee ballots have been cast in Montgomery County. BOE Director Steve Harsman said they are expecting 71.5 percent turnout this election which would mean 275,000 votes cast in the county, slightly less than the 71.9 percent in 2008.
  • Boards of elections in Greene and Miami counties reported they had experienced some minor printer issues at polling places but that voting that not been interrupted for a significant period of time at their locations. “To the best of my knowledge, everything’s going pretty good,” said Nancy Johannes, director of the Greene County Board of Elections.
  • In Miami County, interim board of elections director Bev Kendall said the morning had been “pretty quiet” in her office with minor printer issues at several locations. “A little issue here and there, but nothing major,” Kendall said.
  • A fire alarm sounded at St. Jacobs Lutheran Church in Miamisburg, but it was a false alarm. Voting resumed there with no problems.
  • Several verbal warnings have been issued to poll observers for breaking rules concerning voter intimidation. Harsman confirmed warnings were given out at Holy Family Church on East Fifth in Dayton and a polling location in Butler Township.
  • Some polling locations struggled to open on time at 6:30 a.m., as poll workers showed up late or not at all in some locations.

If you have experienced a problem at a polling location and would like to talk with your county’s board of elections, here are the numbers to call:

Montgomery: (937) 225-5656

Greene: (937) 562-6170

Miami: (937) 440-3900

Clark: (937) 548-1835

Champaign: (937) 484-1575

Warren: (513) 695-1358

Preble: (937) 456-8117

Darke: (937) 548-1835

Shelby: (937) 498-7207

Auglaize: (419) 739-6710

Butler: (513) 887-3700

Mercer: (419) 586-2215

Logan (937) 599-7255

Wayne Co., Ind. (330) 287-5480

To find your voting precinct, see our voter’s guide at http://vote.daytondailynews.com/

WHIO-TV will have offer continuous coverage beginning at 9 p.m. on cable channel 7.2.

To follow the electoral map, check with Daytondailynews.com or WHIOTV.com starting at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.