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Stark County voters bemoan machine troubles (OH)
The Canton Repository. November 4, 2008. Staff Reports.

The Lester Higgins Workshop polling center wasn't open at 6:45 a.m. when John Ring of Canton Township went to vote.

"There was a long line and there were some people that were mighty frustrated," he said. "It's the most exciting election that we've had in my lifetime. It's going to be the highest turnout that maybe the country's experienced in probably 50 years."

Lisa Shafer of Nimishillen Township is concerned her vote wasn't recorded after the machine inside the Fairhope United Methodist Church failed to print out a paper ballot.

Denise Welch of Perry Township said poll workers had to distribute paper ballots, but didn't hand voters both pages.

Bonnie and Charles Buchanan of Tuscarawas Township Precinct 6 only got to vote on the candidates and the first five state issues because they were only given a the first page of the two-page paper ballot at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church.

"We've sent the election technicians out to reinforce with the poll workers that the optical scan ballots have two pages and to make sure that the voters receive both pages. The voters needs to ask for those issues if a poll worker incorrectly issues a ballot," said Jeanette Mullane, Stark County Board of Elections director.

Voters who didn't receive the issues portion of the ballot and did not ask specifically for them do not get another chance to vote on them.

"Once a person has put their ballot into a ballot box, they've cast their ballot and they cannot receive an additional ballot," Mullane said.

Voters also complained that machines were not working.

Welch said all of the machines were down at the Richville United Church of Christ in Perry where she voted. As a result, voters were handed the paper ballots.

Shafer said only one of the four machines at the Fairhope church worked.

Mullane said, however, that no machines were broken.

"The machine issue is more of a paper jam issue," she said. "It's not that the machines are down. I think it's a problem with the set-up and our elections technicians are going out to handle those calls."

The numbers of voter turnout were not yet available, but Mullane said the polls were busy throughout the morning.

At Trinity United Church of Christ, where Lawrence Township Precincts 3 and 8 were voting, what usually was a few minute wait was taking more than an hour.

Lines stretched out the door and into the parking lot.

But a few clever voters soon discovered a way to the front of the line: Ask for a paper ballot.

Inquiring voters were ushered to the registration table and provided with a ballot, causing some grumbling among some of those who'd waited for more than an hour.

Shafer said she hadn't minded the hour-long wait to vote. But she did mind that the machine failed to print out the paper ballot.

She is concerned that her vote was not recorded.

"My only hope is that when they take it to the election tonight, it works in the electronic portion of the machine," she said.

Canal Fulton and Lawrence Township residents flocked to the polls Monday morning where some waited in line for more than one hour.

Voters crossed busy Locust Street to wait in an never-ending line at the Northwest Stark Senior Citizen Center. "We thought this was going to be a lull," said Nadine and Dick Keatley, who came between the morning rush and lunch break.

Kurtiescq Byrd of Canton, who recently changed his address, went to the elections board office on Third Street NE this morning to be able to vote. Byrd, who is 39 years old, described himself as a first-time voter.

"This election to me is very important," he said. "For one, we need somebody in the White House who's going to be a Democrat and help change some of these things that are going on as far as taxes are concerned, all the steel mills and industries. ... I never thought it was real important, until today."

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