The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

November 7, 2013

Ashtabula County election generally glitch-free

Precinct consolidation on big scale wasn’t an issue

JEFFERSON — Aside from a handful of confused voters and an 11th-hour shift in a polling place, Ashta-bula Cou-nty Board of Elec-tion officials were generally pleased with Tuesday’s fall balloting.

“I think it went pretty well,” Carol Lovas, election board director, said Wednesday. “The only big problem was moving an entire polling place.”

Meanwhile, Lovas said recounts in some races may be possible based on unofficial results. More will be known when 170 provisional ballots (votes cast outside of a person’s assigned polling place) are added into the mix.

“There were some close races,” Lovas said.

The election board will meet Nov. 19 to authorize the count, then will convene again one week later to certify the final results.

Meanwhile, officials were pleased with the turnout for the off-year election. More than 34 percent of the county’s 60,718 registered voters participated in an election that featured no high-profile candidate races. Of the 20,806 who voted, slightly more than 2,600 did so via absentee or walk-in ballot.

Tuesday’s biggest headache actually arrived one day earlier. On Monday morning, election officials learned GO Ministries in Ashtabula had no heat and the problem would not be fixed before the election. Officials were able to relocate Ashtabula precincts 3A, 3B and 4A to nearby Messiah Lutheran Church.

Workers erected numerous signs advising of the move and — after conferring with the Ohio Secretary of State’s office — placed a map at GO Ministries to direct voters who didn’t get the message to the new spot, Lovas said.

The general election was also the first involving the county’s consolidated precinct setup. In January, the board shrunk the number of precincts from 127 to 104 to improve efficiency and cut costs. The scaled-back arrangement received a minor test in the primaries, but got its first big test on Tuesday.

To help minimize confusion, the election board placed 14 two-person teams of students equipped with computer tablets at some of the more crowded polling places. The tablets were programmed with voter information, and the students could quickly link voter with proper precinct if asked. Lovas said she was pleased with the diligence, dedication and reliability of the student workers.

“The tablet workers were very helpful,” Lovas said. “They did a great job. I was very pleased.”

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