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Early voting begins at BOE offices

10/11/2012 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

The BOE has prepared for the potential of big crowds with a roped off area for orderly lines, as pictured above.
Officials said a steady stream of voters has visited the Summit County Board of Elections (BOE) since early voting began Oct. 2, as shown above.
Photos: Kathleen Folkerth
SUMMIT/MEDINA COUNTIES — Registered voters whose minds are made up can head to their local Board of Elections (BOE) office and take part in early voting.

The state opened the polls for this year’s General Election Oct. 2, and the BOEs in Summit and Medina counties have already administered ballots to hundreds of voters, officials said.

On the first day of voting in Summit County, 1,035 people cast ballots, which is more than double the number in 2008, the last presidential election year, according to Joe Masich, director of the Summit County BOE.

“It went off without a hitch,” Masich said, noting that voters were usually in and out in 15 to 25 minutes.

In Medina County, Deputy Director Carol Gurney said 387 voters came to the office to vote on the first day of early voting.

“It was busier than it had been in 2008,” she said.

Masich said the Summit County BOE is doing its best to accommodate early voters at its office, located at 470 Grant St., off East Exchange Street near The University of Akron campus. Employees are parking in the Rubber City McDonald’s headquarters parking lot next door. In addition, the company offered use of its parking lot for voters, Masich said, which brings the total number of parking spaces to about 100.

The BOE also set up a roped-off area to give voters a place to line up orderly when the line gets long, Masich said.

This year, the Summit County BOE opted to use its own offices for early voting after using off-site locations for the 2008 and 2010 general elections. Masich said he has tried to rectify the issues that came about when the office was used for early voting during the 2008 Primary Election.

Masich and Gurney said the second day of early voting was not as crowded as the first. Masich said he expected there to be a lull in numbers after the first week but that numbers will probably increase as the General Election date of Nov. 6 approaches.

Gurney said Medina also expects to see an increase as Election Day gets closer. The Medina County BOE currently offers early voting in a room in its office at 4210 N. Jefferson St., in Downtown Medina, but will move into a larger conference room in the building, which is the Medina County Health Department building, for the last two weeks of early voting.

Secretary of State Jon Husted set uniform hours for early voting in Ohio. Registered voters can vote at their BOE office through Oct. 12 and Oct. 15-19 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Oct. 22-26 and Oct. 29 through Nov. 1 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Nov. 2 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

At presstime, officials had not yet determined what voting hours will be for the three days leading up to the election. On Oct. 5, the Sixth District Court of Appeals upheld an earlier decision to allow in-person voting on those days.

“My office is reviewing today’s decision by the court as we determine the best course of action moving forward,” Husted said in a statement on the day the decision was announced.

On Oct. 9, Husted announced that he would appeal the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Husted’s office sent absentee applications to all registered voters in September. Masich said last week that so far 45,780 applications have been received by the Summit County BOE, while Medina County’s Gurney said that office received 13,891.

Masich said absentee ballots could not be sent to voters until Oct. 2. On that day, he said Summit County sent out 20,000, and the office is processing the rest as fast as they can, he said.

Voters can still submit a request to the BOE to vote absentee. Forms are available at BOE offices and websites and must be submitted to the BOE no later than Nov. 2 at 6 p.m. if brought in person or by Nov. 3 at noon if mailed.

Absentee ballots must be returned to the BOE — by mail or hand-delivered in the sealed envelope by the voter or a family member — by 7:30 p.m. on Election Day. Gurney suggested that if voters are mailing their ballot that they get it hand-stamped with the date because the BOE will accept ballots that were mailed up to the day before Election Day if they are properly postmarked.

Masich said the polls statewide will be ready and open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Election Day. Because of redistricting and Summit County’s reducing the number of precincts this year, all Summit County voters should have received a large orange postcard in the mail that updates them on their polling location and congressional and state districts. That information also is available on the BOE’s website, Masich said.

Also, both the Summit and Medina BOE websites offer voters the chance to see a sample ballot that is tailored to a voter’s address.

Masich said however voters choose to make their vote count, he suggests they do their homework before they vote.

“Whether they come here to vote or whether they go to polls to vote or vote at home, just be prepared,” he said.

For more information, go to www.summitcountyboe.com or call 330-643-5200 in Summit County. In Medina, go to www.boe.co.medina.oh.us or call 330-722-9278.

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