Thursday, November 09, 2000

Glitches in Kenton slow voting

In Ohio, 95-year-old man walks 4 miles round trip to cast his ballot

By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Orrin Root discovered Tuesday he was no longer on the voter list at his regular precinct polling place, so he walked four miles round trip to cast his vote at his new precinct.

        That's a pretty good little jaunt for anyone determined to cast his or her vote, but for Mr. Root it was really impressive: He's 95 years old and a resident of the Mount Healthy Christian Home on Hamilton Avenue.

        Mr. Root's experience was one of a few quirks in the otherwise problem-free voting experience in Hamilton County, a far cry from the problems experienced by Kenton County just across the Ohio River, where voting equipment failed, ballots were counted twice and some precincts were open two hours past designated closing time.

        “In previous elections, my polling place was on Meredith Avenue, less than a mile from the home,” Mr. Root, an 11-year resident of the home, said Wednesday. “When I got there, I was told I wasn't registered there. And they sent me to Baptist church at Compton and Daly (roads).”

        Mr. Root, who walks every day to stay in shape, just kept walking to the new polling location, cast his vote and returned home.

        “I was ready to rest when I got back,” he said with a laugh. He said it never occurred to him to ask anyone to drive him to the other location.

        Pam Swafford, deputy director of the Hamilton County Board of Elections, said Wednesday that there were no real problems at the board Tuesday night despite the heavy voter turnout.

        “Everything went really well,” she said. “We had a couple of precincts that were in late, but that was a minor problem.”

        Kenton County Clerk Bill Aylor could only wish that his office's problems were minor as Northern Kentucky voters lined up to cast their ballots for president and in some key Kenton County races.

        “It was a slow process,” he said Wednesday. “We had a precinct that didn't close until after 8:30 p.m. because so many people were waiting to vote.” Kentucky polls close at 6 p.m.

        At one point, the computer system controlling the voting apparatus crashed and election workers were locating voter registrations by hand from large binders.

        A number of voting machines had problems Tuesday, including six that lost their ability to print. The printers and several machines had to be replaced.

        “We were blindsided by the write-ins in Villa Hills,” Mr. Aylor said, referring to the four write-in candidates in that city who announced their intentions only a week before the elections. Those ballots — more than 3,000 of them — were all counted by hand Tuesday night.

        “We had a lot of complaints (Wednesday),” he said. “Mostly because of long lines and long waits to vote.”


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