Cuyahoga puts the past behind them

John Hitch

Cuyahoga may mean “crooked river” in Iroquois, but the county marred by past election problems had few if any kinks at the polls yesterday.

As the largest county in a decisive swing state, any problems could have caused chaos in the presidential election, but even the weather behaved, providing clear skies and a 70-degree


“It’s been smooth sailing,” said Jackie Taylor, a security guard at Union Elementary in Cleveland’s Slavic Village neighborhood. “(Voters) come in, do their business and leave.”

She estimated 75 eager voters lined up outside the school’s doors by 6:30 a.m., when the polls opened. After the early rush, she said, “the lines died off and trickled on since then.”

Down the road at Holy Name Elementary in the gym, poll supervisor Robbin Simmons was sweating because of the unusually warm November day, not the high-speed optical scanners that read the fill-in ballots. Earlier in the day, she reported “a couple glitches with the machines,” but those were remedied in 10 minutes.

She, along with poll workers countywide, arrived at the polls an hour before the polls opened and stayed until after the polls closed at 7:30 p.m. Including the more than 15-hour workday plus a two-hour meeting last night and another four-hour training session, the workers will receive $172.

After the 2004 election, two Cuyahoga County Board of Elections workers were sentenced to 18 months in jail for tampering with a recount. Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner overhauled the election board by switching from touch screens to fill-in votes read by scanners.

Voters also complained of long lines four years ago, which were absent this time “once that morning rush was over,” said Kimberly Bartlett, a community outreach assistant at the elections board.

Despite the apparent improvements, Bartlett wouldn’t call the day a success until it was all over.

Contact public affairs reporter John Hitch at [email protected].