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Published: Thursday, 11/9/2006

Heavy turnout delays Ottawa County count

BY ERIKA RAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

PORT CLINTON - A heavier-than-anticipated voter turnout in Ottawa County for Tuesday's election, coupled with problems posting live election results on the Web, left many residents wondering how issues fared late yesterday morning.

County officials had finished tallying votes about 2:30 a.m. but were unable to post the results on their Web site until about 10 a.m., Deputy Director Monette Garn said.

Though the county's elections board printed enough ballots for at least a 60 percent turnout, that wasn't enough for some precincts in Allen, Clay, Harris, and Salem townships; Genoa; Port Clinton, and Clay Center, causing the delay, Director JoAnn Friar said.

The turnout was so unexpected that elections board officials had to borrow paper from neighboring Erie County to print an additional 800 ballots to cover the 62 percent voter turnout across Ottawa County, Ms. Garn said.

"It was the unbelievable turnout [causing the problems]," she said. "It was much more than what was anticipated."

The majority went to the polls to vote yes on local issues, because most passed with healthy margins, according to Tuesday's unofficial results that do not include provisional ballots.

The 10-year, 0.7-mill replacement tax levy for the Mental Health and Recovery Board of Erie and Ottawa counties was approved in both counties, with a total vote count of 25,628 yes votes to 20,506 no votes.

Voters also passed a five-year, 1.9-mill additional tax levy for Port Clinton's fire department: 1,161 gave it thumbs up, and 970 turned it down.

The levy represents just the fourth time in its history that Port Clinton City Council has asked voters to approve a new funding request.

Only two local issues failed to pass in Ottawa County, and both were in Rocky Ridge.

Voters felt it was unnecessary to establish a public affairs board of trustees, with 95 voting no and 47 yes.

They also rejected a five-year, 3-mill additional tax levy for expenses, with 105 voting against it and just 38 voting for it. The money would have been earmarked for police protection and streetlights.

"We kinda figured that it was going to get voted down," Councilman Ray Brown said. "We tried it once before, and they voted it down, so now the only thing we can do is start turning streetlights off."

The Carroll Township Police Department and the Ottawa County Sheriff's Office assisted the elections board by taking ballots to precincts that were running low from 6 until 8:30 p.m.

Though the sheriff's department is responsible for assisting the elections board on Election Day under Ohio law, Tuesday was the first time deputies have done so, Sheriff Bob Bratton said.

County precincts where voter turnout was the highest include all four in Harris Township, where voter turnout was between 66 percent and 75.5 percent.

Voters who were in line before the polls closed at 7:30 p.m. were allowed to vote, but some weren't able to do so until nearly 9 p.m., when more ballots became available.

Mrs. Friar said elections board officials weren't aware there were problems with their Web site until they tried to post results online early yesterday.

For complete election results, visit www.toledoblade.com.

Contact Erika Ray at:

eray@theblade.com

or 419-724-6088.



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