Poll Worker Says Long Lines At Ohio Union Were Preventable

A long line of students wait to vote outside of the Ohio Union on Ohio State's campus Tuesday afternoon.(Photo: Sam Hendren, WOSU News)
A long line of students wait to vote outside of the Ohio Union on Ohio State's campus Tuesday afternoon.(Photo: Sam Hendren, WOSU News)

There were few problems with this week’s election, but one polling location had extremely long lines. Hundreds of voters waited in a long line at OSU’s student union. WOSU talked to a Franklin County poll worker who said the problem could have been avoided.

The problem started before the polls even opened, according to a poll worker stationed at the Ohio Union. The worker, who did not want to be named, told WOSU the Franklin County Board of Elections did not staff the location with enough workers and did not properly manage the polling books.

Let’s start with the polling books. They’re the large spreadsheets that contain registered voters’ names. They’re separated alphabetically by last name. For example: A through D in one book; E through H in another and so on.

But the worker said the Ohio Union had too few polling books, thus too few lines of voters waiting to get checked in. And the lines grew very long.

Board of Elections Deputy Director Dana Walch said the board took steps prior to the polls opening to avoid long lines, but they weren’t quite enough.

“We took the proactive step originally of breaking the book up even more than we usually would for a location with this number of precincts in it. We then broke it up further after we found out the line was getting long.”

But the poll worker said by the time the extra steps were taken, the lines were very long.

As far as too few poll workers, Walch said the location was staffed adequately according to the number of precincts it serves. But he said the board sent more people as the line grew longer.

“We put every resource that we possibly could have up at the Ohio Union voting location to help alleviate this problem,” Walch said. “We put our operations managers up there, our director went up there, one our board members, who was in the office, went up there, and we dispatched additional staff. ”

Walch said the board continues to review issues at the Ohio Union and will make changes to ensure quicker voting times for the next election.

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