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Published: Wednesday, 10/3/2012 - Updated: 1 year ago

Early voting in Toledo opens with strong turnout

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER
Voters wait in line to be checked in at the early vote center Tuesday at Summit Plaza in Toledo. Voters wait in line to be checked in at the early vote center Tuesday at Summit Plaza in Toledo.
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Nearly twice as many people turned out for the first day of early voting in Lucas County on Tuesday as the number who voted early on the first day in 2008, and it appeared to be a good day for President Obama.

Long lines snaked out of the Early Vote Center, in the former Riverside Hospital, 1500 N. Superior St., early in the day, dwindling to shorter lines for the rest of the day. No one waited longer than 45 minutes, and those who waited longer than 30 minutes were offered the option of voting on paper ballots, said Meghan Gallagher, director of the Lucas County Board of Elections.

The facility offers plenty of parking and several entrances and exits to prevent bottlenecks, even with the record-breaking turnout, and voters interviewed by The Blade said they were satisfied with the process.

Of the 928 who voted on Tuesday, compared with 500 on the first day of early voting in 2008, 696 were Democrats, according to statistics provided by Ms. Gallagher. Of the rest, 40 were Republican and 192 belonged to other parties or had no party affiliation.

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Lucas County Republican Chairman Jon Stainbrook, who is supporting Republican nominee Mitt Romney, said the turnout at the Early Vote Center doesn't mean anything about the final outcome. He said Republicans are more likely to vote by mail or wait until Election Day, which falls on Nov. 6 this year.

"That to me is a small sample," Mr. Stainbrook said of the turnout. "It's not a race of who votes first. It's a race of who votes and who wins."

There was a similar abundance of Democrats on the first day of early voting in 2008, with 301 Democrats, 20 Republicans, and 179 independent or other-party voters. President Obama won that election in Lucas County and in Ohio.

Only one significant problem was reported at the Early Vote Center.

Ms. Gallagher said a voter from Maumee Precinct 6 was given an electronic voting card for the 9th Congressional District race, between Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) and challenger Samuel "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher (R., Springfield Township). The voter's precinct is in the 5th Congressional District, contested between incumbent U.S. Rep. Bob Latta (R., Bowling Green), and Angela Zimmann (D., Springfield Township).

"We unfortunately issued an incorrect ballot to her," Ms. Gallagher said. She said the voter reported the problem after she voted, so the vote could not be canceled and she could not vote again.

Lucas County residents take the opportunity to vote early at the Early Voting Center set up in Summit Center, former Riverside Hospital, on Summit Street in North Toledo. Lucas County residents take the opportunity to vote early at the Early Voting Center set up in Summit Center, former Riverside Hospital, on Summit Street in North Toledo.
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Keith Cunningham, one of two special masters appointed by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted to temporarily supervise the county board of elections, said the voter was handed an encoder card that had been programmed manually after a problem with the normal programming process.

It happened about 8:30 a.m.

The Zimmann campaign noted that the voting glitch occurred in a community that was recently redistricted out of the 9th District into the 5th District.

Ms. Zimmann’s campaign manager, Dan Lipner, urged the Board of Elections to ensure that voters are receiving the proper ballots.

“We have the responsibility of making sure that our elections are fair and that Ohio’s voters can cast their votes with confidence knowing that they are being given the correct ballot,” Mr. Lipner said.

Early voting continues every weekday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Oct. 22, when the Early Vote Center will remain open until 7 p.m. on weekdays until Nov. 1.

The exceptions are Oct. 8, when the vote center is closed, and Oct. 9, when it is to stay open until 9 p.m. Early voting ends at 6 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 2. So far, no weekend voting hours are scheduled.

Fred Cumberland II stayed overnight with several other family members in a recreational vehicle outside the Early Vote Center and was the first person in line to vote.

Mr. Cumberland registered and voted on the same day Tuesday, as allowed during the first five days of early voting in Ohio.

Mr. Cumberland, a former Toledoan who has multiple family members living here, said he moved to Toledo three weeks ago from Massachusetts mainly so his vote would count more to help President Obama win re-election.

He is living in the recreational vehicle parked in the rear of his sister's residence on Parkside Boulevard.

Asked if he moved here to make his vote count more, Mr. Cumberland said, "I'd say 70-30."

He also said he wanted to be helpful to his grandchildren, who live in Toledo with their mother. He is a sculptor who is working part-time for a retail business.

Mr. Cumberland said he is basically a conservative but supported Mr. Obama four years ago mainly because he's an admirer of Joe Biden, whom Mr. Obama selected then as his running mate.

A vote cast in Massachusetts for Mr. Obama is less likely to help the President get re-elected because the state is expected to vote overwhelmingly Democratic, ensuring Mr. Obama will win that state's 11 electoral votes.

Ohio's 18 electoral votes are more uncertain, which is why Ohio has been showered with campaign visits by President Obama, Republican nominee Mitt Romney, and their running mates.

Voters leaving the new early vote center said everything appeared to be running smoothly, despite a wait that lasted up to 45 minutes for some voters in the morning. In the afternoon the line reached about 50 people.

"There was a line but it was not too long," said Val Cavitt, 51, of Maumee, a retired lawyer.

"I think it's important to make sure my voice is heard. I didn't want any shenanigans on Election Day."

Jeff Stephens, 64, of Whitehouse, said he "just wanted to get my vote in."

"Anything can happen between now and Election Day and I didn't want to miss voting if I get run over by a Greyhound bus or something," Mr. Stephens said.

Contact Tom Troy at: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058.



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