Decision '08: Who is going to win?

Will it be Obama or McCain? Ferrell or Printy? Shenigo or Hayberger? Will the school levies be approve
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

Will it be Obama or McCain?

Ferrell or Printy? Shenigo or Hayberger?

Will the school levies be approved?

From 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. today, voters get the chance to have their say.

Deborah McDowell, director of the Erie County Board of Elections said she isn't sure which candidates and issues will win, but what she does know is this year Erie County voters want to make sure their voices are heard.

"It's going to be a tremendous turnout this election," she said. "A lot bigger than the previous elections."

As of Monday morning, there were more than 12,685 absentee votes in Erie County. This means that nearly a fourth of the 55,185 registered voters in the county cast their ballots before Election Day itself.

"I believe that's the highest we've ever had," McDowell said. "I think previously, the numbers were around 5,800."

The early votes this election overshadow the 5,507 ballots cast in 2006, during an election for governor and 5,018 during the last presidential election.

On Monday, election workers in Ottawa, Huron and Sandusky counties said they didn't have time to comment because of they were "slammed" with long lines.

"It's crazy, backed up out the door. There's so many voters I've lost count," a Huron County worker said before rushing off the phone.

Those waiting to vote in Erie County stood in lines at least 100 deep that reached down the building's hallway and wrapped around the stairs outside.

Election workers looked frazzled as they glided around the office as if on roller skates, answering phones, filling out paperwork and helping voters.

"It's been like this all morning, since about 7:30," deputy director Jennifer Ferback said, shaking her head. "The line is consistent."

Early voters waiting in line read books, socialized and talked on cell phones to pass the time.

"I've never voted before," said Amanda Smith of Sandusky. "I never felt the need. This election's different. If the right person isn't elected, we're screwed. Judging by the people out here today, I'd say that's what everyone's worried about."

Ferback said there are two things to remember when voting: Bring identification and vote when you have the most time available.

"If they don't have a lot of time, they shouldn't try voting before or after work or at lunch," she said. "I have no idea how long the lines are going to be. Especially considering how many absentee voters we've had. Some precincts may have lines longer than others and others may be crowded all day. We just don't know."

In most cases, Ferback said voting will take 15-20 minutes, while some voters can get in and out in about five minutes. Those who have limited time may want to vote mid-morning or mid-afternoon.

Acceptable forms of ID include a driver's license or a state ID card with a current or former address. Or the voter may bring any of the following if it has the voter's name and current address: A military ID, a utility bill, a bank statement, a paycheck, a government check or a government document. Voters without an ID will be asked to cast a provisional ballot.

To prepare for what McDowell knew would be a "chaotic" election, the office began planning in early summer, rallying up poll workers for the 62 precincts (two Republicans and two Democrats at each) and tweaking ballot-scanning machines.

Erie County ran into one small problem.

"We've had several poll workers cancel, mostly because of a death or an illness," Ferback said. "We had to find new ones and get them trained. It takes anywhere from one to three hours depending on their job."

To encourage voter turnout, Sandusky Transit System is offering free rides to the polls from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today. Those interested may call 419-627-0740 and will be accommodated as available.

McDowell said it's possible the polls may remain open after 7:30 p.m.

"We've been told there's a possibility there might be a court order that the polls remain open longer," she said. "We have a contingency plan in place so we know how to handle it in case we have to do it."