Accommodating early voters is becoming a challenge in Greene County, especially when thousands more people show up at the board of elections office to cast their ballots before election day.
At 71 percent, voter turnout this year in Greene County was exceptionally high for a gubernatorial election when compared to the last two gubernatorial years in which turnout was about 45 percent in 2014 and 2010, according to Greene County Board of Elections records.
In the final days leading up to Nov. 6, early voters sometimes had to wait in line for more than an hour before they could cast their ballots at the elections board office on Ledbetter Road, according to Llyn McCoy, Greene County elections board director.
“The voting equipment has never been the issue; we have the equipment. It’s the space,” McCoy said. “The room that we use we can only put in four computer stations.”
According to the final, official count, 9,044 Greene County voters cast their ballots in-person before this past election day. In 2014, there were 3,367 in-person voters and 4,460 in 2010, according to county elections records.
McCoy said she thinks the high voter turnout this year, which was more like a presidential election, “was due in large part to the fact that there was no incumbent in the governor’s seat.”
Wait times for early voting during presidential elections can be more than two hours, according to John Caupp, chair of the Greene County elections board.
“Unfortunately, we have to line people up outside on the sidewalk,” Caupp said.
Caupp, who is the executive chair of the county’s Republican party, said his party does put together their “slate” of candidates and inform voters about early voting opportunities.
“Early voting goes for 30 days. If the public can come in a little earlier, that would alleviate quite a bit of wait time,” he said.
Some county elections boards, such as Lucas County, choose to have early voting occur at a different location other than the board’s offices because of space constraints, said Matt McClellan, communications director for the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office.
Caupp said without funding to look for another location, “we don’t have a whole lot of options where we’re at.”
McCoy said she will talk to county commissioners early next year about the need for a bigger room to accommodate early voters.