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Published: Tuesday, 3/6/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Ohio primary election

Residents allowed to cast new votes after receiving wrong ballot

Vote turnout low in Lucas County

BLADE STAFF
Michele Grinter casts her vote at Sherman Elementary School, Tuesday. Michele Grinter casts her vote at Sherman Elementary School, Tuesday.
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The Ohio Secretary of State’s office reversed an earlier ruling and is now allowing some residents in South Toledo to vote again Tuesday night because they were given a ballot showing the wrong congressional district.

The decision was announced following a Lucas County Board of Elections meeting at the Early Vote Center in downtown Toledo. Initially, the state office said the residents could not vote again.

An unknown number of people were given the wrong ballots in the 24C voting precinct and members of U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur’s campaign wanted the residents to have another chance to vote on Tuesday.

Lucas County board of elections officials believe five people were given ballots to vote in the 5th congressional district instead of the 9th district where they reside. The discrepancy was declared in the precinct at Reynolds Elementary School, which is off South Reynolds Road.

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The board of elections is continuing its meeting, where they’ve been discussing the issue. Members of Miss Kaptur’s campaign were at the meeting.

“Seventy-two voters were given the wrong ballot. People were denied the opportunity to vote in a congressional race,” said Keith Wilkowski, an attorney for Miss Kaptur. The board and Miss Kaptur’s campaign were in a disagreement over the number of involved ballots.

BOE member Jon Stainbrook said one number he heard was five voters given the wrong ballot. Ron Rothenbuhler, board chairman, said the voters were given a voting machine card that was encoded for the 5th District rather than the 9th District.

In Lucas County, turnout remained light through the early afternoon and evening. The Lucas County Board of Elections reported that 14.81 percent, or 2,156 of 14,561 registered voters in 16 sample precincts had voted as of 5 p.m. Turnout in 2008 was more than 45 percent, though that race featured two competitive presidential primaries.

Wood County hasn’t been keeping track of voter turnout, and will report figures Tuesday night.

John Allen casts his vote Tuesday at Sherman Elementary School. John Allen casts his vote Tuesday at Sherman Elementary School.
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Voting has been reported to be steady throughout the day at precincts in Fulton County, said Board of Elections Director Melanie Gilders. “It’s been steady. That’s what we have been getting from the polls, but not over-the-top busy,” she said.

Fulton County election officials estimated a turnout of 30 to 35 percent of the 28,641 registered voters.

In Ottawa County, there has been a steady stream of voters as well, with no waiting lines reported at the precincts countywide, said Carol Ann Hill, elections board deputy director. Ottawa County has slightly more than 30,000 registered voters, she said.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said earlier Tuesday that voting has generally been light across the state and glitches have been minor. He said the moving of polling places because of bomb threats, as well as problems related to weekend storm damage in southwest Ohio, will not affect the integrity of votes already cast in the old location or the paper ballots cast in the new location. A bomb threat to Lima Senior High School led to voting being moved to a nearby church.

A second location further away in Lorain also was affected by a bomb threat. The polling location at Gen. Johnny Wilson Middle School in the city of Lorain is part of the newly configured 9th Congressional Distict that stretches along Lake Erie between Toledo and Cleveland. That’s the district that has pitted veteran Democratic incumbent Miss Kaptur (D., Toledo) and Dennis Kucinich (D., Cleveland) against each other in Tuesday’s primary election. Newcomer Graham Veysey is also running in the race.

Those Lorain voters will be sent to an alternative location or redirected by the Lorain County Board of Elections to cast their ballots, Mr. Husted said.

He noted that the same polling location in Lorain was the site of a shooting last year.

Mr. Husted said such last-minute moving of polling places do not involve the moving of voting machines. In such situations, the buildings are locked down to secure those machines. Then paper ballots are cast and counted separately at the new location.

He said a glitch in Franklin County where it appeared polling places did not have the right ballot has been corrected. Some 210 voters reportedly left without voting but are being contacted by the board of elections to return, Mr. Husted said.

In the city of Toledo, a shift of congressional district lines caused some confusion in parts of the city, voters and campaign workers reported on Super Tuesday.

With Toledo now split between the 9th and 5th congressional districts, some who expected to vote in the 9th congressional district Democratic primary between Ms. Kaptur, Mr. Kucinich, and Mr. Veysey, were surprised and disappointed in the change. Others said they couldn’t understand why neighbors were now in a new district.

Randy Simon said he searched online before he voted to find what district he now lived in, and thought he voted in the 9th, but poll workers gave him a ballot for the 5th district.

He voted in the Democratic primary in anticipation for voting in the congressional primary; if he’d known he was in the 5th, he said he would have voted in the Republican primary for the presidential race, the other major race that is on the ballot Tuesday.

“I think they did a poor job in telling people where they were,” Mr. Simon said.

Lucas County Board of Election officials said Mr. Simon’s residence is within a couple of blocks of the border between the two districts, adding to the confusion.

Merlin Artz signs in to vote Tuesday morning at Perrysburg precinct 690 with pollworker Stephanie Hennigan, of Perrysburg, left as pollworkers Diane Markham, of Perrysburg Township, second from left, and Mary Kurtz, of Custar, look on. Merlin Artz signs in to vote Tuesday morning at Perrysburg precinct 690 with pollworker Stephanie Hennigan, of Perrysburg, left as pollworkers Diane Markham, of Perrysburg Township, second from left, and Mary Kurtz, of Custar, look on.
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Evan Morrison, campaign manager for Democratic 5th District nominee Angela Zimmann, said some voters at Reynolds Elementary School on Norwich Road were upset they couldn’t vote for Ms. Kaptur. Ms. Zimmann is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination, and will face off against 5th District incumbent Rep. Bob Latta of Bowling Green, who has a Republican primary challenge by Robert Wallis of Convoy.

“Because of the redistricting, people weren’t seeing Marcy (Kaptur), they were seeing Angela (Zimmann), and they just wanted to know why,” Mr. Morrison said.

West Toledoan Bob Steinmiller said he was disgusted to find out he now lives in the 5th district. He said he’s voted in the 9th district for 26 years, and never expected redistricting to impact Toledo.

“I was so mad that I could barely read the damn thing,” Mr. Steinmiller said.

There were reports during morning voting of machines not working properly at several voting locations, forcing some to vote with paper ballots. Board of elections Deputy Director Dan DeAngelis said that the reports aren’t out of the ordinary.

“There’s always going to be some technical issues,” he said.

This is a developing story. Check for election updates throughout the day. Results will be posted at toledoblade.com/electionresults.



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