by Tim Troglen | Reporter
Summit County voting officials are reviewing potential solutions to a variety of problems voters reported Nov. 6 at polling locations in Hudson and across the county.
Complaints included too few poll workers at sites, waiting in line for more than two hours to vote, broken ballot scanners and confusion over which precincts had been eliminated during a recent redistricting change.
"We had many complaints regarding the changing of polling locations and the waits that were created due to the larger sizes of the new precincts," Summit County Board of Elections Deputy Director Kimberly Zurz said Nov. 7.
The Summit County Board of Elections reduced precincts from 196 in March to 151 in November as a cost-saving measure. Tallmadge went from seven polling locations to three.
That led to more people than usual at polling spots across Summit County, where Secretary of State John Husted reports voter turnout was 71 percent, Zurz said.
"We tried to prepare for these situations as best we could," she added.
The Board of Elections is looking into the issues, according to Zurz.
"The Board had some discussion about some of these issues already, and both the director and I are reviewing all of the concerns raised to us this election and will make recommendations to the board for their consideration," she said.
Zurz does not know what recommendations will be presented to the Board, or what the outcome will be, she said.
The Board did appreciate hearing the concerns of the voters, she added.
"We appreciate the voters bringing their concerns to our attention to enable us to have better information when we plan for the next election cycle," Zurz said. "We want the voters of Summit County to have a positive experience whether it be at the polls, for early voting or absentee by mail."
FEW ISSUES IN TALLMADGE
The Tallmadge League of Women Voters had expressed concerns with whether the reduction from seven to three polling locations would disenfranchise voters as the changes may have led to confusion and possibly long lines.
All of Tallmadge's voting locations featured lineups prior to polls officially opening at 6:30 a.m. Nov. 6. Various poll workers said the day's earliest voters faced waits between 45 minutes to an hour, but by mid-to-late morning, voters flowed more smoothly and lines rarely backed up very far.
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.
Poll worker Diana Allison said the Tallmadge Recreation 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.
The scene was similar at the Tallmadge Community Center, where poll worker Diane Bratt described early lines as "grandiose," but still manageable.
Tallmadge LWV President Nancy Treichler, who spent most of the day at the First Congregational Church as an observer, said voters passed through the church in steady streams, noting waits seemed reasonable throughout the afternoon and evening.
She said poll greeters, who were stationed at voting locations for the first time this year, helped direct citizens to the right location if they arrived at the wrong voting spot.
The city itself was also proactive in making sure voters weren't confused. Large, color maps illustrating each of the city's precincts and their corresponding voting locations were posted at former locations, so if anyone unaware of the changes went to their previous location, they would be directed to their proper site.
Reporter Jeremy Nobile contributed to this story.