by Jeremy Nobile | Reporter
Tallmadge — Although polls did not officially open until 6:30 a.m. today, each of Tallmadge’s three polling locations saw eager voters lining up by 6 a.m.
By mid afternoon, lines had died down, but a steady stream of voters continued rolling through each site with an efficient flow.
Sherry Bixler, a poll worker at the First Congregational Church of Tallmadge, said a lineup of between 60 to 100 people was bunched inside the church’s lobby just before the polls opened for the day.
She said the pace persisted until about 11 a.m., with some waiting between 45 minutes to an hour before casting their ballots.
Poll worker Nancy Martin said the Tallmadge Community Center featured a similar scene, with voters beginning to line up around 6 a.m.
At one point, she said the interior of the building was nearly filled to capacity.
Poll worker Diane Bratt described the Community Center’s lines as “grandiose,” but still manageable. Twelve-year poll worker Linda Blythe said the lines were the biggest she’d ever seen.
Blythe said she didn’t mind working at a frantic pace to check-in voters.
“It’s just really good to see this kind of turnout,” she added.
Around 1:30 p.m., about the same time the church and Community Center were seeing citizens arrive at a slower pace, the Tallmadge Recreation Center was still managing the most steady crowd.
Poll worker Diana Allison said the rec center had lines wrapping around the inside of the facility early this morning. By the afternoon, lines were smaller, but unoccupied voting booths were seldom seen
So far, the day has been “crazy busy,” said poll worker Marie Walters matter-of-factly.
“I have never seen it like this before,” said poll worker JoAnn Wood, who has been volunteering at elections continuously since 1956.
Wood echoed the sentiments of 19-year poll worker Helen Beichler, who said she felt the reduction of voting locations in Tallmadge led to the longer lines.
Last year, the city had seven polling locations instead of three.
Beichler, who manned a voter-greeting table, said some older citizens arrived at the rec center surprised that their voting location had changed.
However, greeters like Beichler took pride in directing citizens to their proper voting locations if they arrived at the wrong spot.
She said having the greeters was a new effort this year, adding that she feels it was effective in helping several citizens identify their polling locations if they were confused where to go.
Nearly every poll worker said they anticipate a second rush of voters later today as the work day comes to a close.
Polls close at 7:30 p.m. today.
Phone: 330-541-9400, ext. 4179