Hamilton County Board Of Elections Says It's Ready For Ohio Primary

Mar 9, 2020

The Hamilton County Board of Elections is expecting 50% of voters to cast ballots during this year's primary election on March 17.

Presidential candidates may be driving some people to vote, but there also is a laundry list of local issues to cast a vote on, from the Hamilton County sheriff's race to transit levy Issue 7.

Local election officials are encouraging voters to take advantage of early voting.

"Our in-person numbers are up compared to 2016 but that's not too unusual," Director of the Hamilton County Board of Elections Sherry Poland says. "Since we've moved to our new location in Norwood (in 2017), we're more accessible than we were Downtown."

As of last week, the board of elections says it has processed around 20,000 absentee ballots. The board says it's ready for high voter turnout during next week's primary.

During last week's Super Tuesday election, multiple news reports said a Texas voter waited six hours at a historically black university before he could submit his ballot. Long lines formed in multiple cities that favored the Democratic party. Voters in California also faced delays because of limited voting locations and problems with new voting technology.

Credit Ambriehl Crutchfield / WVXU

Poland says that shouldn't be the case in Hamilton County.

"It's important to know that in Hamilton County we are a paper-based system," Poland says. "That's our primary voting source."

Depending on the number of registered voters for a polling location, there are anywhere between four to 26 privacy booths. Once the voter is done, they'll feed the ballot to a scanner which displays an American flag once it's counted.

Each location has one to four scanners as well as back-ups in case a machine goes down or lines back up at scanners.

Research shows throughout the U.S., communities of color are more likely to wait in longer lines than white communities to cast ballots at their voting precincts. As a result, people are less likely to vote in the future.

The board is still trying to reach its goal of having four poll workers in precincts throughout the county. Its two consistent groups - seniors and college students - are taking a break from Cincinnati for spring break or overall warmer weather.

Poland says they will shuffle poll workers to precincts that have higher demand if they don't reach their hiring goals by Ohio's primary on March 17.