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Investigation into the 2004 US Election: Long waiting times for people wanting to vote and resultant lines

 
  

Project: Investigation into the 2004 US Election

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2003

       Ohio's Summit County Board of Elections eliminates 32 more voting precincts. [Akron Beacon Journal, 12/11/2004] This follows a previous reduction, which occurred in 2001 (See August 2001). Since the 2000 elections, the total number of precincts in the county has dropped from 624 to 475, or a countywide decrease of 24 percent. Most of the cuts have occurred in the city of Akron where there is a significant Democratic majority. Akron has lost 81 of its 234 precincts, or more than a third. [Akron Beacon Journal, 12/11/2004] Other counties in Ohio do not feel the need to consolidate precincts. More than half of Ohio's 88 counties either increase or make no changes in the number of precincts. [Akron Beacon Journal, 12/11/2004] As a result of the cuts, the Akron precincts experiences long lines in the 2004 elections (See November 2, 2004), “especially in the city's predominantly African-American wards.”
          

November 2, 2004

       In Ohio, Gambier residents and Kenyon college students and faculty wait in extremely long lines to vote—many of them in the rain. There are only two electronic voting machines for the 1,170 people that will eventually cast their vote by 4 am when the polling place finally closes. [Mount Vernon News, 11/2/2004; Beacon Journal, 11/4/2004; News 5 (Ohio), 11/4/2004; November 17, 2004] Kenyon College student Maggie Hill says during an appearance on the “Today Show” that her and hundreds of other students and Gambier residents had to wait up to 10 hours to cast their votes. [News 5 (Ohio), 11/4/2004]
          

November 2, 2004

       Polls in Akron, Ohio experience long lines, “especially in the city's predominantly African-American wards.” The county elections director, Bryan C. Williams, tells the Akron Beacon Journal, “We had lines and waits everywhere in the morning, mainly between 6:30am and 9am.” He says the longest wait reported to him was 95 minutes. [Akron Beacon Journal, 12/11/2004] The long lines might have been avoided had there not been major cuts to the number of precincts in Summit County in 2001 (See August 2001) and 2003 (See 2003). Most of those reductions took place in Akron where there is a significant Democratic majority. According to the Akron Beacon Journal, the city's importance to Democrats is significant—“Enough to change Summit County from blue to red.” The paper explains: “John Kerry won Summit County by 38,000 votes, according to official returns. Take Akron's votes out of the totals, and President Bush would have won the county by 423 votes.” [Akron Beacon Journal, 12/11/2004]
          

Morning-early afternoon, November 2, 2004

       In some heavily democratic Columbus, Ohio precincts, people wait 2-7 hours in long lines to cast their votes because of a shortage of voting machines. Machines delivered the previous day were distributed unevenly throughout the county, with a greater concentration (machine to registered voter) being placed in the higher-income suburbs (See November 1, 2004). 51 machines remain in a warehouse (See Afternoon November 2, 2004). [Columbus Dispatch, 12/11/2004; The Free Press, 12/16/2004] After the elections, statistics show that the voter-to-machine ratio was higher in Columbus than in its surrounding suburbs where income levels are higher. In the affluent Republican stronghold of Upper Arlington not one of its 34 precincts had a voting machine which cast more than 200 votes. Only one machine, in ward 6F, came close to the maximum. It was used by 194 voters. However, in the Democratic city of Columbus, there were 34 polling machines which logged on more than 200 votes per machine and 42 machines that were over 190 votes per machine. In another words, in Columbus, 17 percent of the city's machines were operating at 90-100 percent over the optimum capacity while in Upper Arlington the figure was 3 percent. The high voter ratios in Columbus were due to a combination of increased voter participation and fewer voting machines. In Columbus, despite increased voter registration in the city, 139, or 29 percent, of the 472 precincts had fewer machines than in the 2000 presidential election. In some precincts, the number of machines was reduced by as many as five. This contrasted sharply with Upper Arlington, where only two precincts had fewer machines. In one of those precincts, voter registration had declined by 25 percent. [Columbus Dispatch, 12/11/2004; The Free Press, 12/16/2004]
          


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