OH: Long lines, problems with voting machines reported across OhioConnie Mabin | Associated Press
CLEVELAND - Longs lines, problems with ballot-reading machines and some frustrated voters who left polls without casting ballots were reported early on in Ohio's first punch-card free general election.
All 88 counties for the first time Tuesday used electronic voting - either touch-screen machines or paper ballots read by optical scan machines as voters selected candidates for governor, Congress and statewide offices.
Also, voters for the first time were required to show identification at the polls.
James W. Marquart of Cleveland said he left an elementary school polling place without voting because election workers told him his name wasn't on the rolls even though he had with him a postcard from the elections board showing that's where they told him to vote.
"They had no record of me," he said. "They did offer me a provisional ballot but I have absolutely no faith in provisional ballots. I don't want to do a ballot that I fear won't be counted."
Provisional ballots are counted later only if elections boards are able to verify the voter's information. In 2004, 135,000 provisionals were cast statewide, with about 77 percent validated.
Marquart, an independent, said he took the day off work and is consulting an attorney. Elections hot lines set up by the state and voter groups repeatedly rang busy when he tried to call for help around 8:15 a.m., he said.
When he finally got through to the Cuyahoga County elections board he said he was told records show he was an inactive voter even though he says he voted in the May primary.
"I wonder how many other people this is happening to," he said.
In Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland and elsewhere lines more than 30 people deep formed at polling places.
A location in Columbus opened a few minutes late because of a break-in at the school where the precinct is located. Police would not allow voters in until they were sure the building was safe.
The voting machines and materials were locked and secure, said Matthew Damschroder, the Franklin County elections director.
The elections board received so many calls from voters and poll workers that the county's phone system collapsed, Damschroder told The Columbus Dispatch. Workers were trying to get service restored and callers probably were getting busy signals or hold time, he said.
Many voters said they didn't mind showing their driver's license or other identification and many reported no problems with touch-screen machines.
Rep. Jean Schmidt was the first person to vote at a polling place in the Cincinnati suburb of Loveland, but the machine she used was not able to read her paper optical scan ballot. Poll workers were unable to solve the problem, so they put her ballot and others into a slot in the machine, to be scanned later.
Similar scanning troubles were reported in Akron.