Warren County voters wait in lengthy line to cast early ballots

It was a beautiful, sunny and warm day as residents stood in line when early voting started at 1 p.m. Sunday in Warren County.

Less than an hour later, the wait was around 25 minutes from the top of the steps next to the Warren County Common Pleas Courthouse, about 500 feet from the polls were located at the Board of Elections.

Voters were orderly as they watched or listened to their smartphones for the latest update on the Bengals-Panthers football game, reading voters lists from various political parties, or chatting amongst themselves.

One voter said he was surprised with the number of people standing in line as he entered the parking lot.

Another voter said he opted to cast his ballot early because he might be busy on Election Day and “it was important to be here.”

Mason resident Stephanie Poeppelman said Sunday was the only day she could vote because she would be traveling for business.

“I didn’t think there would be this many people would come to vote today,” she said. “Maybe the weather helped.”

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Another Mason resident, Paul Sorce said, “It’s a nice day and I didn’t want to wait in line on Tuesday. “I really thought there would be more people at home watching the Bengals game.”

Zach Birnbrich of Lebanon, said he was voting early on Sunday due to his work schedule. “It’s a beautiful day if you want to stand in line.”

Also at the Board of Elections was an elections observer monitoring the operations in Warren County.

Drew Derrick, a Hamilton County Democratic Party elections observer, said his function is observe the elections process and to ensure possible problems, such as equipment breakdowns, bad information being given to voters, or extremely long lines, are addressed by the Warren County Elections Board.

“I haven’t seen any issues here,” he said.

Brian Sleeth, Warren County Board of Elections director, is projecting a voter turnout of 65% to 70% of the county’s 172,000 registered voters to participate in the Nov. 8 general election. He said in the last gubernatorial election in 2018, voter turnout was at 63%.

“This could be the largest turnout for a gubernatorial election in county history,” Sleeth said. “It’s been busier than normal.

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As of early Sunday afternoon, more than 24,000 absentee and early voting ballots have been sent out from Warren County, he said. Sleeth said 16,000 people have voted at the Board of Elections office and another 700 ballots have been sent to members of the military, local nursing homes, etc.

On Friday, Sleeth said 1,750 people voted early at the elections board office, the ninth-highest number of early voting ballots cast.

The last day of early voting at the Board of Elections office is Monday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

On Tuesday, Nov. 8, all polling places throughout the state will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. The deadline to submit absentee ballots for this election at the Board of Elections Office in Lebanon is 7:30 p.m. The county has a secure and monitored drop-box at the Board of Elections office for residents to drop off their absentee ballots.

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