Brunner files suit to keep Putnam County polls open

Yolanda Riggs, left, and Betty Brown prepare absentee ballots to be counted at the Lucas County
Board of Elections.<br>
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Yolanda Riggs, left, and Betty Brown prepare absentee ballots to be counted at the Lucas County Board of Elections.&lt;br&gt; (THE BLADE/HERRAL LONG)&lt;br&gt; &lt;img src=;&lt;b&gt;&lt;font color=red&gt;VIEW:&lt;/font&gt;&lt;/b&gt; &lt;a href=&quot; /apps/pbcs.dll/gallery?Avis=TO&Dato=20071106&Kategori=NEWS09&Lopenr=1106001&Ref=PH&quot; target=&quot;_blank&quot;&gt;&lt;b&gt;Updated election day photo gallery&lt;/b&gt;&lt;/a&gt;

Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner filed suit in the Franklin County Common Pleas Court to keep polls open in Putnam County until 9 p.m.

According to the lawsuit, some of the voting machines used for today's special 5th district congressional primary in the county had been experiencing "intermittent failures." Ms. Brunner's suit asked the court to keep the polls open an extra 90 minutes.

The faulty voting machines were on loan from the Franklin County Board of Elections, and were needed because all of Putnam County's machines were destroyed by flooding earlier this year. According to a news release from Ms. Brunner's office, similar machines on loan from Franklin County used for Tuesday's general election didn't experience such failures.

Paper ballots are being distributed for the special congressional primary. Ms. Brunner also asked all 16 counties holding special congressional primary elections to delay reporting results until 9 p.m.

(From earlier editions of The Blade and

Putnam County wants to let its voters have until 9 p.m. to vote in Ohio s 5th Congressional District special primary.

Carla Tooman, deputy Putnam elections director, told The Blade that special authorization for more voting time was being sought from state officials late this afternoon and only for that contest.

Some though not all of the machines used for today s election have malfunctioned for the primary only, while performing adequately for items on the separate, regular ballot, Ms. Tooman said.

We don t know why some are working and some aren t, she said. We tested them all [beforehand] and they were working fine. Not all of them are coming up and working.

Throughout the day, Putnam County voters who ran into difficulty have been given the option of voting for the primary on paper ballots. Their electronic votes that went through for other races and issues are not affected, Ms. Tooman said.

Putnam has 18 polling sites that fall into the 5th District. All have had at least one machine work properly, she said.

But officials are asking to stay open an additional 90 minutes to accommodate people who may have been too frustrated to deal with the situation. After polls close statewide at 7:30 p.m., those people would only be allowed to vote for the congressional primary, Ms. Tooman said.

The county was still awaiting word from the state as of 4:30 p.m.

In Lucas and Hancock counties, turnout forecasts were reduced this afternoon, based on the morning s lackluster response and the day s inclement weather.

Both counties, which had been expecting a 35 percent turnout, now say the participation level will likely be somewhere between 25 and 30 percent.

Some 14.5 percent of Lucas County s registered voters had cast their ballots as of 1 p.m., Marty Limmer, a Lucas information technology employee, said.

Jill Kelly, executive director of the Lucas County Board of Elections, was holding out hope that voting will pick up as people get off work.

In Hancock County, where damage from August flooding resulted in a shortage of voting machines, forecasts of long lines haven t panned out.

It s unfortunate, but I think the weather has had something to do with it, Jody O Brien, Hancock s deputy elections director, said.

Wood County elections officials were in a staff meeting this afternoon and unavailable for comment, although one employee said no major glitches had been reported there.

Debbie Hazard, Wood s elections director, said this morning she thought today s turnout could be as high as 40 percent in her county, given the region s interest in the 5th Congressional District primary, called to narrow the field for a successor to the late Paul Gillmor (R., Old Fort), who died Sept. 5.

But Ms. Hazard said the early feedback she received was that Wood County s voting was going kind of slow. She did not cite any problems or explain the lackluster start.

No major logistical problems have been identified.

Oregon started the day with paper ballots, the response to a temporary mechanical glitch that was caused by a poll worker who entered improper coding for electronic voting machines at the Oregon Municipal Building. Rather than keep voters waiting while the problem was sorted out, workers issued them paper ballots as they were instructed to do, Ms. Kelly said.

The problem was resolved quickly, and the electronic system was restored. The important thing was that nobody was turned away because of the mishap, she said.

It was human error. The folks running the election God bless them are human beings, Ms. Kelly said. She added that she wasn t sure offhand how many people voted by paper or how long the manual system was used. Voters there were back on the electronic system by mid-morning.

Polls are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. in Ohio and from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. in Michigan.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and