Several hundred people gathered Tuesday night in east Columbus to protest a Missouri grand jury’s decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for shooting and killing Michael Brown in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson.
Voting registration comes to a close; Early voting continues
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Monday was the last day to register to vote in Ohio. And many people during their lunch hour headed to the Veterans’ Memorial on West Broad Street to sign up…others were there just to cast their ballots early. reports.
At Veterans’ Memorial signs read “In Person Absentee Voting Here.” The building’s lobby was empty with the exception of a few people straggling in and out, but up the stairs and around the corner a long line of eager voters waited. Some read the paper, others stood and talked politics. Then clipboards with absentee ballot applications were handed out as the line doubled in size.
Arthur Cook, Jr. from Westerville is a seasoned voter. He said he voted early to avoid the long lines that often accompany Election Day.
“As you can see they’re starting to build up pretty good here so you can imagine what it’s going to be like at the voting booths,” Arthur Cook said.
And early voting was a little more special than just dodging long lines for Cook. His son, Cameron, joined him to vote as well.
“It’s my first time voting,” Cameron Cook said.
Steven Summers from Columbus was already registered to vote, but because of his work schedule voting on Election Day could be tough. Summers said he waited no longer than five minutes to vote.
“I work for COTA. And my schedule dictates me, what I’m going to do that day. So I figured I’d come in early, get it done, get it over with, so I wouldn’t have to worry about voting later,” Summers said.
“We’ve had a large response during the lunch hour,” Franklin County Board of Elections spokesperson Ben Piscitelli said.
Piscitelli said he can not project on a day to day basis how many people show up to vote.
“One thing that we have said throughout the absentee voting period is that we expect at least 200,000 people in Franklin County to vote either absentee, in-person or by mail. If they do that that would be about a third of the people that we project to vote for the General Election,” he said.
“I registered and voted. I went and did them both at the same time,” Celia Tamez said.
Tamez is headed back to work. It took her about 50 minutes to both register and vote, faster than what she thinks she would be able to just vote on Election Day.
“I figured as long as I was down here, and I work downtown. And I know I would have made some excuse, and I would have felt like an ass later for not going and voting. It was really easy, it was really fast, everybody was really helpful,” Tamez said.
Cassandra Lovejoy from Columbus is a registered voter. She wanted to vote early to avoid long lines on Election Day. But Lovejoy said she ended up waiting anyway because there is only one electronic voting machine at Veterans’ Memorial.
“We had to wait a little while here. But mainly it was because of the option to use the machine. I think people need to know that if they’re going to come down and do an early vote, basically it’s a paper ballot,” Lovejoy said.
Piscitelli said there’s only one electronic voting machine at the Vets’ Memorial because the Franklin County Board of Elections wanted to have as many voting machines free to use on Election Day. He said the rules say, once a voting machine has already been used in an election, it can not re-used. Piscitelli said the electronic machine at Vets’ Memorial is there primarily for people with disabilities like those with impaired hearing. But he said anyone is welcome to use it, they just may have to wait longer.