Voters wait up to four hours to vote

Jeff Russ

Approximately 350 people showed up to the Board of Elections in Ravenna Saturday morning to vote absentee. But before selecting a candidate, voters waited anywhere from three-and-a-half to four hours before voting.

The polls opened at 8 a.m. An hour later, the line already stretched the entire length of the building. By 11 a.m., it had wrapped all the way around the building once. There was nowhere to park, and the final voters were told they might wait up to four hours before voting.

Despite the long wait, only a handful of voters left the line. One who did leave voiced his displeasure with a security guard before storming out of the building. Many waited patiently – sparking up conservation, reading books or eating lunch.

“I enjoyed it,” Aurora resident Mike Konick said. “I got a chance to talk to folks I’ll never get a chance to see again in my life.”

Konick, along with his wife, showed up to vote at 9:15 a.m. and came out just after noon. Konick said he expected to wait a long time to vote but stayed patient.

“I would have saved about three hours if I just filled out the absentee card they sent us,” he said.

The Board of Elections has six voting machines in the facility. A representative of the board said nearly 4,100 people voted early in Portage County since absentee voting started Sept. 30. There are 109,626 registered voters in Portage County.

Many who were in line Saturday expected the long wait, but it still was uncomfortable at times.

“It’s really hot,” Ravenna resident Jennifer Peck said. “We got here at 9:15, and they told us it would be a three-hour wait. It is more packed in here now.”

Most of the people who voted felt it was worth the wait.

“I knew it would be probably be busy,” Kent resident Ian Flaherty said. “I brought a book and coffee, but I wasn’t expecting a three hour wait. It was rewarding after I finished though.”

Voting took place from 8 a.m. to noon. At exactly noon, security guards locked the doors. Those who left were informed if they left the building they could not get back in. About five people arrived a little bit after noon and were turned away.

The Board of Elections will be open today from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. On Election Day, precinct polls are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Contact public affairs reporter Jeff Russ at [email protected].