The 10,246 ballots cast in the March 4 primary election in Madison County represented a 45 percent turnout of registered voters in the county. Board of Elections Director Timothy A. Ward said the turnout was good and the board was ready for it.
"I’m not surprised by the turnout. That’s why we made the change last year to some of the larger facilities for the polls. It was a strategic move to make sure nobody would be waiting outside in long lines," he said.
To meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards and to prepare for this year’s federal election, the Board of Elections turned to three schools and a library to serve as some of the county’s larger polling places. On March 4, they included London High School, Jonathan Alder High School, West Jefferson High School and London Public Library.
"There weren’t any long lines, so it definitely worked," Ward said of the changes. "In fact, on Monday, there was a longer wait to vote here in the (Board of Elections) office than there was at any of the precincts (on Tuesday)."
Another change that kept lines moving was the presence of help desks for people casting provisional ballots. The separate desks were set up at the county’s larger polling sites, including: the Della Selsor Building in London, London High School, Choctaw Lake, West Jefferson High School, Jonathan Alder High School and Mount Sterling’s Church of Nazarene.
People who must cast provisional ballots are those whose voter registration is not updated. For example, they may not have changed their address with the Board of Elections after a recent move. In such cases, a voter must fill out an envelope in order to cast a provisional ballot. The process can take 10 minutes.
"Once we identified someone as a provisional voter, we sent them to the help desk so that they wouldn’t hold up the normal lines," Ward said.
"This really paid off in Plain City because it’s a growing community with a lot of new people moving in. The poll workers at Jonathan Alder liked it and asked us to please do it again."
Ward said the Board of Elections plans to repeat the provisional help desk concept, as well as retain the large polling facilities, for the November general election when Ward expects an even bigger voter turnout.
"That is when we will really have the crunch. It could easily be 60 to 70 percent turnout in November. It would not surprise me to see that," Ward said.
The primary election determined who will advance to the November general election as the Republican and Democratic candidates for various seats. Next up are the Independents.
March 3 was the deadline for Independent candidates to file petitions with the Board of Elections to run in the November election.
Thomas C. Phillips of West Jefferson filed as an Independent to run against Republican Chris Snyder for one of the Madison County commissioner seats (term starting Jan. 3, 2009).
Jennifer Hunter of London and Christopher J. Brown of West Jefferson filed as Independents to run against Republican William Stidham for the Madison County treasurer’s seat.
The Board of Elections will certify the Independent candidates on May 16.
Madison Co. chooses Clinton
In the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, Madison County’s results reflected those of Ohio as a whole. Of those casting Democratic ballots in Madison County, 65.3 percent chose Hillary Clinton, 32.3 percent chose Barack Obama, 2 percent chose John Edwards, and less than 1 percent chose Dennis J. Kucinich.
The county’s breakdown for votes cast for the Republican presidential nominee was 58.3 percent for John McCain and 32 percent for Mike Huckabee with Rudy Giuliani, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson each receiving 2 percent to 3 percent of the local vote.