Voters lining up — but only briefly — to cast ballots

By The Mercury

Voting appeared to be heavy and without significant incident here Tuesday morning.

County Clerk Rich Vargo said the early feedback from polling places was that voters were waiting in lines only briefly if at all despite the apparent strong early turnout. Poll workers reported a steady pace of activity that appeared on pace to exceed turnout in 2008, the last presidential election.

They also suggested that a stronger youth vote may be emerging than has usually been the case. “We’re seeing a lot of young people — predominantly young voters,” said Chuck Tannehill, who was in charge of voting at First Lutheran Church.

Workers at the Seniors Center described turnout as smooth but heavier than in 2008. At St. Thomas More, the largest voting site in the county, more than 200 ballots had already been cast by 8:15, yet the waits for machines to open up was no more than momentary.

The first-arriving voters at Living Word Church had to wait 10 to 15 minutes, and lines continued until about 9:30 a.m., said Kenneth Wadick, who was in charge of voting at the location. He said 260 people had voted by 10 a.m., which was double the number of voters from the same time during the 2008 elections.

Katha Hurt, who was in charge of voting at the KSU Foundation, said about 12 people arrived before the polls opened. She said 154 people had voted as of 11 a.m., and 244 people had voted in advance.

Rod Franz, who was in charge of voting at Trinity Presbyterian Church, said the location had 230 voters as of 11:15 a.m., which is not quite as many as 2008.

Franz said one voting machine was briefly down due to the screen not being as clear as it should have been, although the names could still be read. He said the county quickly replaced it with another, and no votes cast on the failed machine were in jeopardy of being lost.

There were, however, a few reports of higher-than-usual provisional votes being cast. Part of that might have been due to the implementation, for the first time in a presidential election, of the state’s new voter ID law, although some election judges suggested the more likely cause was an influx of first-time voters. A judge at Blue Valley Methodist Church said that precinct was seeing a large number of provisional voters whose addresses did not match with the county record, suggestion they may have moved recently.

As any good election official would do, Vargo worried that the absence of lines in the morning might be a cause for concern as the day goes along. “Does it mean we’ll get hard at noon or dinner?” he wondered.

Polls close at 7 p.m., with results expected to be available shortly after that. will have complete results on all local and area races along with the sales tax question as they become available.

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