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Organizers outnumbered visitors five to one yesterday at the first of seven town-hall meetings designed to familiarize voters with the balloting process before Ohio's March 4 primary.
The meeting drew 12 people to the Waterville Township Hall, a white brick 1905 building with an interior about the size of a large living room. With eight of them affiliated with the Lucas County Board of Elections and two others members of the press, there were just two unscheduled visitors at the afternoon meeting.
"I saw someone walking down the street and I grabbed them," said Dan Pilrose, deputy director of the elections board. "But she was coming anyway."
Yet Jill Kelly, board of elections director, said she was undeterred by the low turnout, which she largely attributed to the primary taking a back seat to a certain football game.
"This is Super Bowl Sunday and we didn't think we would get a million people," Ms. Kelly said. "But if we get a few [visitors], they can spread the word, and we'll have done our job."
Ms. Kelly and other election officials said they want to eliminate any confusion about procedures during the election, when voters have the option of using touch-screen machines or paper ballots. Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner has required the paper ballots be offered to voters who are nervous about using the voting machines.
Because results are slower to tally when paper ballots are cast on Election Day, the board of elections is urging voters to consider using absentee balloting. March 1 is the deadline for requesting an absentee ballot from the board of elections, which can be contacted at 419-213-2070 or through its Web site at www.co.lucas.oh.us/BOE.
Residents can call the voter hot line at 419-213-2056 to confirm their ballots were received.
Those who still need to register to vote must do so before 9 tonight. Individuals may register at a public library, a public high school, a Bureau of Motor Vehicles office, or the board of elections office at One Government Center.
Ms. Kelly said while it is possible a large number of paper ballots could delay vote tallies by a few hours, she is confident next month's voting and counting will be successful.
"We don't want voters worrying, because it's all going to come out just fine," she said.
The two visitors at yesterday's meeting, Kathleen Chamberlain, 71, of Whitehouse and Ken Dickey of Waterville, 73, both happened to be poll workers looking to brush up on proper voting-day procedures.
"They depend on us to tell [voters] what to do," Mrs. Chamberlain said.
The next town-hall meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. today in the Springfield Township Administration Building, 7617 Angola Rd.
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