Early Voting Popular in Ohio

Oct 9th, 2008 | By ffolwell | Category: Latest News

October 6, 2008

By Jed Layton

Columbus, OHIO—Jose Dixon has a fear of long lines.  He doesn’t go to amusement parks, avoids the lunch rush and was dreading a potential five-hour line to vote in Ohio on Nov. 4.

But in a fast moving line at the Franklin County Memorial Auditorium downtown Columbus, Dixon felt fine waiting 30 minutes to cast his early absentee ballot.  A sophomore in chemistry at Ohio State University, Dixon said the short wait was nothing compared to four years ago where long lines plagued Ohio’s voting stations.

“I didn’t vote last election,” he said.  “But I saw and heard about the long lines they had.  Eight hours, or even five, is way too long to vote.  I didn’t want that to happen to me.”

More than 2,000 early voters joined Dixon Monday evening.  Many said they came because they feared they would not have the chance to vote on Election Day.

In the 2004 presidential election, Ohio voters had to deal with voting machine malfunctions, under equipped voting stations and confused volunteers, said Michael Sinviano, director of the Franklin County board of elections.  “People are concerned and there isn’t much trust in voting in Ohio given what we have seen in 2004.”

Some early voters came because it simply was more convenient.  Derek Harmond came to vote early when his last class of the day was cancelled.  The senior majoring in health management at Ohio State wasn’t sure he would have time to vote on Nov. 4.  He was willing to vote for Barack Obama without seeing the second and third presidential debates.

“I do not think four more weeks of campaigning and bad attack ads will change my vote,” said Harmond.

Others came to the voting station for more than one reason.  Vanessa Straut, a night student at Ohio State and a single mother, came to register and vote on the same day.  At 42, Straut had never voted or registered before and was grateful for the opportunity to take care of both at the same time.  According to Spinviano, this was the first time Ohio voters could register and vote on the samae day.

However, Monday was the last day to do so.

 “I never felt like politics was important,” said Straut.  “But after the recent bailout I felt like I needed to show my disappointment in our leaders.  I am voting for McCain because Obama has a lot of good ideas, but he is as risky as all of those bad mortgages people keep talking about.”

An Oct. 6 Washington Post-ABC News Poll showed Obama leading in Ohio by six points, 51 percent to John McCain’s 46.  In unveiling the new poll, the Post reported that no Republican president had ever been elected without winning Ohio.  Political analysts are calling Ohio the second most important battleground state for McCain after Florida.

Ohio’s significance in the election is the reason Ralph Spinter, a senior in political science at Ohio State, spent the afternoon driving students to the voting station.  Spinter drove a 10-seat passenger van plastered with Obama and McCain posters and red, white and blue streamers.

“The more people we can get to vote early the less there will be on Election Day,” he explained.  “Hopefully the lines will not be as long and we can get a better turn out.”

Spinviano said Ohio counties have worked hard to avoid the problems of 2004.  He cited an increase in voting machines, newer machines and better training for volunteers as improvements.

“There will be some lines if we see a historic turnout, but they won’t be as bad as they were in 2004,” he said.





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