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Traffic Accident Causes Judge To Keep Polls Open Late

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WCPO

Without a complaint or a lawsuit being filed, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Dlott ordered polling places in Hamilton, Butler, Warren and Clermont counties to stay open until 8:30.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said Dlott told his office it was because of a serious accident on the Interstate 275 Combs-Hehl Bridge over the Ohio River near Coney Island.

But Husted said his office did not get the word until 7:32 p.m. – two minutes after polling places around the state closed.

Butler County election officials said they contacted poll workers and the polls reopened.

But Hamilton County Board of Elections chairman Tim Burke said the Hamilton County board did not get a notice from the secretary of state until 8:01 p.m.

“I don’t know what we can do,’’ Burke said. “Our polls have been closed since 7:30.”

Husted told a press conference in Columbus that his understanding is that Dlott was told about traffic problems caused by the accident and said there was no complaint or lawsuit filed. The judge acted on her own, Husted said.

According to WCPO-TV, a semi may have pushed a car off the bridge about 4:30 p.m. after a chain of accidents. The car was located late Tuesday afternoon and rescuers were coming up with a plan to raise it.

Husted said the other 84 county boards of elections around the state would go ahead and continue their counting of ballots. 

Howard Wilkinson joined the WVXU News Team after 30 years of covering local and state politics for The Cincinnati Enquirer. A native of Dayton, Ohio, Wilkinson has covered every Ohio governor’s race since 1974 as well as 12 presidential nominating conventions. His streak continued by covering both the 2012 Republican and Democratic conventions for 91.7 WVXU. Along with politics, Wilkinson also covered the 2001 Cincinnati race riots; the Lucasville Prison riot in 1993; the Air Canada plane crash at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in 1983; and the 1997 Ohio River flooding. The Cincinnati Reds are his passion. "I've been listening to WVXU and public radio for many years, and I couldn't be more pleased at the opportunity to be part of it,” he says.