Site Map
Voting News
Contact Us
About Us

is NOT!
associated with

Turnout in Ohio largest in decades:
Polls packed despite glitches, delays, drizzle
Toledo Blade. November 3, 2004. By Fritz Wenzel, Blade Political Writer

Voter turnout in what many public figures had called the most important election in a generation, perhaps a lifetime, overwhelmed poll workers throughout Ohio in an election complicated because of judicial decrees from federal benches that, seemingly by the hour, changed the rules governing who could be inside polling locations and what they could do there.

Statewide voter turnout was running close to the 72.6 percent predicted by Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, spokesman James Lee said.

"Turnout has obviously been extremely strong. There have been lines in a lot of locations, but voters have shown extreme cooperation and civility," Mr. Lee said.

In Lucas County, turnout was on its way to exceeding the 73 percent estimated by elections Director Paula Hicks-Hudson.

Several hundred thousand new registered voters across Ohio and Michigan plumped the rolls, contributing to poll congestion. The 2000 U.S. Census reported about 335,000 voting-age adults living in Lucas County, just over 300,000 of whom are registered to vote, Ms. Hicks-Hudson said.

Lucas County citizens worked to fill in the ovals next to their favored candidates and issues on optical-scan ballots, a voting method that, after three elections, remains somewhat unfamiliar. The county had employed mechanical lever machines for 40 years before abandoning them after the November, 2002, election.

Most counties in the region relied on punch-card systems.

In Franklin and Knox counties, where voters use touch-screen units, long lines developed and voters turned to a federal judge for help as the time grew near for polls to close. To speed the voting, some of those voters were given paper ballots, a spokesman for Mr. Blackwell said.

In Toledo, "a lot of people just walked away, saying they had to go to work," said voter Anthony Bumphis, who said he waited for more than an hour at Gesu School on Parkside Boulevard in West Toledo when it temporarily ran out of ballots.

Throughout the city, polling places reported an assortment of problems, ranging from technical trouble with Lucas County's leased optical-scan voting machines to confusion about precinct boundaries and questions over provisional balloting.

The stress levels reached a peak by midafternoon at some stations. Several precinct judges "are so distressed they're threatening to leave," said Bernadette Noe, chairman of the Lucas County Republican Party. By midafternoon, lawsuits had been filed alleging elections misconduct.

Much-hyped challengers were visible inside some polls, but no major challenges had been reported by midafternoon. Both Republicans and Democrats staffed many polling locations with challengers, but leaders of both parties said they had no intention of contesting people's right to vote.

Meanwhile, Ohio Voter Protection Coalition members - draped in rain slickers and hunkered under umbrellas - watched the process, questioning exiting voters about the process.

Voter Jaunice McCall simply wasn't happy.

"If you don't have blood pressure now, you'll have it by the end of today," said Ms. McCall, who had gone to her regular polling station at the Frederick Douglass James B. Simmons Center but was informed that she had to go to nearby Pickett Elementary School to vote.

Minutes later, a central Toledo couple marched in. They reported first to Pickett, but were rerouted to Simmons, where they were told to return to Pickett.

Jesse Crowell threw his hands in the air as he headed for the parking lot once again.

"We didn't get to vote yet, but we will," he said.

Technical problems also snarled the process throughout the day. Jammed or inoperable voting machines were reported throughout the city.

At the Birmingham polling site in East Toledo, the sole machine broke down around 7 a.m. An hour later, when Ohio House Rep. Peter Ujvagi tried to cast his ballot, the poll worker told him to place his ballot in a secure slot so that it could be scanned in later.

"Just stick it in the side here," she said. "It's jammed." He gave her a quizzical look and she shrugged. "I called an hour ago."

The county lease agreement with Diebold Election Systems provided for 20 extra machines to be substituted in such situations, said Ms. Hicks-Hudson. She said machines also jammed during testing last week.

Elsewhere, the day broke with both enthusiasm and confusion as early bird voters - concerned about the possibility of long lines - began queuing up to vote an hour before the 6:30 a.m. opening time.

Blade staff writers James Drew, Robin Erb, Tad Vezner, Clyde Hughes, and Steve Eder contributed to this report.

Previous Page

Election Problem Log image
2004 to 2009


Accessibility Issues
Accessibility Issues

Cost Comparisons
Cost Comparisons

Flyers & Handouts

VotersUnite News Exclusives

Search by

Copyright © 2004-2010 VotersUnite!