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.