Hundreds endure long line at Lucas County early voting center


But for B.J. Waugh, whatever the wait might be was worth the opportunity to vote in this year's election, an opportunity she didn't want to let wait until Election Day tomorrow.

"I got to be at work at 7 in the morning. I don't know what time I'll get off, and I want to be sure to vote," the resident of Toledo's Reynolds Corners neighborhood said.

Linda Howe, director of the Lucas County Board of Elections, said the wait to vote yesterday stretched out to more than two hours, with the last of those who were in line when the office closed at 5 p.m. not voting until about 7:15. Yet nobody seemed to be annoyed by the delay, she said.

"On Election Day, if they had to wait that long, a lot of people would have been upset about it," Ms. Howe said.

The 1,278 ballots cast yesterday at the training center, Lucas County's single location for early balloting at 2127 Jefferson, brought the early ballot total to 23,037, Ms. Howe said.

Early voting will continue there today, from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Election Day voting in Ohio will be from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

The elections board also issued 44,340 absentee ballots for mail-in voting, she said.

The risk of not getting to the polls at all tomorrow, rather than any fear of long lines, motivated many who chose to vote yesterday.

"I don't know if I'll be able to do it on Tuesday," said Shannon Deitz, also of Toledo. She professed to being "really shocked" to see the long line at the polling place, "but I'll wait as long as I have to."

Brian Wright said he expects to work a double shift tomorrow, so yesterday was his best opportunity to vote even though it meant cutting out of work a bit early.

"This is a historic occasion. I'm excited about it," said Mr. Wright who, at age 18, will vote in a presidential election for the first time.

Those in line with buttons proclaiming their candidate preference leaned predominantly toward the Democratic Party's Barack Obama, including Nancy Sharp, a volunteer for the Illinois senator who said voting yesterday would allow her to do campaign work tomorrow.

"I'll be free to knock on doors, canvass, and generally get the vote out," Ms. Sharp said.

At precinct polling places tomorrow, Ms. Howe said, voters first will go to an identification-check station, after which they may choose between paper or electronic touch-screen balloting.

The elections board has provided polling places with enough paper ballots to cover 40 percent of the turnout during the 2004 presidential election, she said; the state minimum is 25 percent.

"If it's going to be a nice day, there's going to be heavy turnout," the elections director predicted.

According to the National Weather Service in Cleveland, Toledo's skies should be sunny tomorrow, with an unusually warm high near 70 degrees.

Ms. Howe said the only problem with early voting at the EMS training center has been illegal parking in nearby private parking lots, which has persisted despite the posting of signs warning against it.

"I'm worried that the property owners are going to start calling the police," Ms. Howe said. "The [former] Mercy Hospital garage is right up the street [on Jefferson], and it's free. There's no reason for people to be parking illegally."

Contact David Patch at:

or 419-724-6094.