Early In Person Voting Ahead Of 2008

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Campaign volunteers pass out sample ballots in front of the early voting site.(Photo: Debbie Holmes)
Campaign volunteers pass out sample ballots in front of the early voting site.(Photo: Debbie Holmes)

The early voting period in Ohio is more than half over and so far more than 33,000 have cast their ballots in person at Franklin County’s early voting center on Morse Road.

That’s double the number who voted early four years ago.

The voting center which is abuzz with politicking and civic duty.

Decided voters looking to avoid the Election Day voting rush are steadily coming to cast their ballots at the early voting site at 1700 Morse Road on Columbus’ north side.

Republican and Democratic campaign volunteers greet some of the voters as they head inside. But they are not on top of the voters. A bright yellow line circles the front of the building 100 feet from the entrance. State law says the activists must stand behind that line and they do; a few inches behind the line.

Volunteer for the Democrats Carole DePaola hands out sample ballots.

“We’re basically just side by side and we don’t try to engage in any conversation,” says DePaola.

“Thanks for being out here…do you have any bumper stickers back here.”

Just down the line a bit, a Republican volunteer hands GOP sample ballots, stickers and literature.

Republican voter and Hilliard resident Bill Saefkow sent in his absentee ballot and brought his daughter to vote, since her baby is due on Election Day.

“I think this is a perfect example of where you can come and if your address has changed you can still vote. You can do a provisional ballot which I think that’s what my daughter did. And it works out really well,” says Saefkow.

“Here’s a form here, what you’ll want to do here is fill this out.”

Obama supporter Marisela Reyes didn’t register to vote 4 years ago when she lived in Florida, so she wanted to make sure her choice for president gets counted this year.

“I thank God that we have that option to be able to do that early, instead of going through because I’ve voted in the past and it was a different process. This process was very nice,” says Reyes.

The process only takes about 10 minutes.

Spokesman for the Franklin County Board of Elections, Ben Piscitelli says the new location works well.

“There’s not much of a wait and the facility is so large that everyone can get inside, so there’s no possibility so far of the lines being so long that they stretch out the door into who knows what type of weather,” Piscitelli says.

A large truck adorned with signs of conservative candidates and issues sits on several parking spots across from the front door of the voting center beyond the yellow line.

As long as the weather holds, protester Richard Justman also plans to tell voters his opposition to issues like abortion and gay marriage. Justman has several signs he posts along Morse Road, a violation of Columbus’ right- of- way code.

“We’re here because this is where the action is and this is the only early voting center, and we’ve only been here since Monday, so for 3 weeks the Democrats have been almost the only people here,” says Justman.

Justman has caused a bit of controversy. Officials have told him to remove his signs that interfere with the right-of-way. Justman and his supporters claim harassment, saying officials are singling him out for promoting Christian values.

Spokesman for the Franklin County Board of Elections, Ben Piscitelli says Justman can stay but must obey the rules.

“He’s here and he’s well within his rights to do what he’s doing, just so long as he doesn’t politic within 100 feet of the polls or put his signs out there in the right of way,” explains Piscitelli.

If the 2008 early voting at Veterans Memorial Downtown is any indication, the Morse road facility this week will see even more voters and even more politicking; behind the yellow line.