Overnight campers among the first to vote early Tuesday

Oct 2, 2012

About 50 to 60 people – most of them clearly supporters of President Obama – were the first to file into the Hamilton County Board of Elections early this morning to cast the first ballots in Ohio’s early voting period.

Many of them had spent the night in tents and sleeping on lawn chairs on a night of off-and-on rain to be among the first in line.

The line of people stretched from the door of the board at 824 Broadway to the Hamilton County Family Courts building at 800 Broadway.

It was a long line, but not nearly as long as the one on the first day of early voting in 2008, when hundreds of voters lined up around the building and down the alley way between 824 and 800 Broadway.

State Sen. Eric Kearney, a North Avondale Democrat, organized the sleep-over, as he has every year since 2008.

“We had about 35 people who spent the night,’’ Kearney said. “There were only four tents, Everybody slept in chairs. But we had a DJ out here and people were dancing in the street. Everybody had a good time.”

Many of those at the front of the line were members of the Cincinnati chapter of the NAACP, including Cincinnati councilman Christopher Smitherman.

Board of Elections officials began letting the people into the building shortly before 8 a.m.; and the line started snaking up toward the second floor, where the actual early in-person voting takes place.

Rhonda Powell of Mount Auburn, an Obama supporter, didn’t spend the night, but she did show up early Tuesday morning to take her place in line.

“I am one of those 47 percent Mitt Romney was talking about and I am proud of it,’’ Powell said, referring to a recently revealed tape of Romney talking to donors and telling them that 47 percent of the people expect government to give them hand-outs and saying he would never get their votes.

“It was insulting to working people,’’ Powell said of the Romney remark.

By 8:30 a.m., after the initial 50 to 60 people filed into the people, a few dozen people – some tea party activists and Republicans – followed them into the board offices to cast their ballots.

Today is also the day when boards of elections around the state begin mailing out absentee ballots. As of Monday morning, the Hamilton County board of elections had received about 67,500 applications for absentee ballots.

The ballots are being mailed out today.