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Long lines, problems with voting machines reported across Ohio
The Beacon Journal  by CONNIE MABIN, Associated Press  07 November 2006

CLEVELAND - Long lines, problems with ballot-reading machines and some frustrated voters who left polls without casting ballots were reported early on Tuesday in Ohio's first punch-card free general election.

All 88 counties for the first time used electronic voting - either touch-screen machines or paper ballots read by optical scan machines as voters ed candidates for governor, Congress and statewide offices.

Voters also were required to show identification for the first time.

In Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland and elsewhere, lines more than 30 people deep formed at polling places. In Athens County in southeast Ohio, the prosecutor warned voters to be leery of fraudulent calls claiming their voting precinct had been changed.

James W. Marquart of Cleveland said he left an elementary school polling place without voting because his name wasn't on the rolls even though he had a postcard from the elections board showing that's where he was to vote.

"They did offer me a provisional ballot but I have absolutely no faith in provisional ballots," he said. "I don't want to do a ballot that I fear won't be counted."

Provisional ballots are counted later only if elections boards can verify the voter's information. In 2004, 135,000 provisionals were cast statewide, with about 77 percent validated.

Marquart, an independent, said he took the day off work and is consulting an attorney. Elections hot lines set up by the state and voter groups repeatedly rang busy when he tried to call for help around 8:15 a.m., he said.

Marquart said he eventually was told by the Cuyahoga County elections board that records show he was an inactive voter even though he says he voted in the May primary.

"I wonder how many other people this is happening to," he said.

A location in Columbus opened a few minutes late because of a break-in at the school where the precinct is located. Police would not allow voters in until they were sure the building was safe.

The voting machines and materials were locked and secure, said Matthew Damschroder, the Franklin County elections director.

The elections board received so many calls from voters and poll workers that the county's phone system collapsed for about 90 minutes.

Many voters said they didn't mind showing their driver's license or other identification and many reported no problems with touch-screen machines.

At a busy polling location in Parma Heights just outside of Cleveland, residents voted in a steady stream, reporting no major problems. One elderly couple repeatedly hit the wrong button on the touch screen and kept going back to the beginning of the ballot before poll workers helped them figure it out.

Marie Paine, 84, a former poll worker, said she thought e-voting was a big improvement over punch cards.

"It was fantastic," she said. "I just hope all this turns out well and we get some good people sitting in, taking care of our business."

Rep. Jean Schmidt was the first person to vote at a polling place in the Cincinnati suburb of Loveland, but the machine could not read her paper optical scan ballot. Poll workers couldn't solve the problem, so her ballot and others were to be scanned later.

Similar scanning troubles were reported in Akron.


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