LIVE UPDATES: Last person drops off ballot as polls close in Montgomery County

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

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Last voter drops off ballot at exactly 7:30 p.m.

A Dayton woman was the last person to drop off a ballot at the drop box at the Montgomery County Board of Elections, pulling in at exactly 7:30 p.m. when the polls closed.

Rebecca Privett said she was held up on a call at work and was afraid she wouldn’t make it in time to drop off her ballot.

“It’s important (to vote) in every year’s election, because that’s how we make our decisions about where this country or our government, local, state and federal is going," she said.

Hour to go, no lines at largest polling places

There were no lines to vote at some of Montgomery County’s largest polling places an hour before polls were set to close.

“First time voter!” yelled a poll worker as a woman wrote her name in a poll book at a Sinclair Community College campus in Centerville that is home to six precincts, the most in the county. Everyone in the polling place cheered.

Poll workers said more than 1,700 people cast ballots there today and while lines were long at first, they were nil at 6:30 p.m.

Lines were likewise short at a business in Miamisburg that is home to five polling locations. Poll workers there said that was likely because poll books showed as many as half the voters in those precincts voted early.

“It was very smooth. Well organized. Felt safe,” said voter Micki Dyer.

Carla Taylor said she waited maybe 25 minutes to vote at her polling place, a church in Vandalia.

“It went fine,” she said.

The vast majority of voters at polling locations visited by the Dayton Daily News wore masks as requested because of the coronavirus pandemic.

As a Dayton Daily News reporter observed voting at the Vandalia location shortly after 3 p.m., a young couple got to the front of the line not wearing masks. The poll worker offered complimentary disposable masks.

“No thanks,” the man and woman replied.

“You are refusing?” the poll worker asked.

“Yes,” the man replied.

The couple were then directed to vote like everyone else. Poll workers said they were the first people at that location to refuse masks. State rules say people who refuse to wear masks must be allowed to vote, although they should be offered curbside voting.

Polls ‘steady and busy’ with no major issues

In the last two hours of voting, elections officials from across the Dayton region reported no major issues throughout the day.

“Pretty calm and at this point nothing major to report,” Montgomery County Board of Elections Director Jan Kelly said. “The voters are voting,”

She attributed planning and organization by the Montgomery County Board of Elections and its staff to the smooth elections process, and said “we could not have envisioned a better day.”

“It was steady and busy in Preble County with no glitches,” said Terri Hans, director of the Preble County Board of Elections.

“No major issues here,” said Laura Bruns, director of the Miami County Board of Elections. “Minor equipment issues but they were resolved quickly and there was sufficient equipment to cover in the meantime.”

“There have been no major issues at the polls to report in Darke County today,” said Paul Schlecty, director of the Darke County Board of Elections.

Voter intimidation, poll worker shortages not a worry in Montgomery County

Concerns about poll worker call-offs and voter intimidation haven’t materialized locally on Election Day, Montgomery County Board of Elections Director Jan Kelly said.

Although there were maybe one two-hour long lines when polls first opened at 6 a.m., lines have been short, she said, adding the county has had “a really good day” so far.

A high early voter turnout has helped the polls run smoothly in Montgomery County. Kelly said 57,674 people voted early in-person at the elections board and 93,346 mailed or dropped off an absentee ballot with more arriving today at the Board of Elections drop box until 7:30 p.m.

During a morning press conference she said the county had received calls about minor issues, such as canvassers being within 100 feet of a polling place, long lines and voters going to the wrong polling place.

Absentee ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 2 or dropped off at the board of elections drop box by 7:30 p.m. to be counted. Anyone who requested an absentee ballot and then went to a polling place to vote in person will cast a provisional ballot.

No sign of voter intimidation statewide

Voter protection groups are not seeing big problems statewide or signs of organized voter intimidation occurring, according to Jen Miller, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio.

She spoke at an 11 a.m. online news conference held by voter protection groups, which also included ACLU of Ohio and Common Cause Ohio.

“Overall we’re not seeing massive intimidation. We’re not seeing massive violation of rights,” Miller said “We are seeing little fires, snafus, confusions that we need to deal with. The great news is we are on the scene and dealing with it.”

She said the coalition of Ohio Election Protection Groups is monitoring polling locations where long lines have been reported, including a location in Centerville at the Sinclair Community College South Campus.

To speed up lines, she said poll workers can encourage voters to use paper ballots. She reiterated that voters can safely use the paper ballots offered as an option instead of the digital voting machines. Both kinds of ballots are put into the locked scanning machine when completed.

Some Miami Valley voters cast provisional ballots

Sam Robinson, the location manager for the polling place at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Tipp City, said he has seen a lot more provisional ballots cast this year than normal. Many were required because the voters requested absentee ballots and then decided to vote in person.

One Tipp City voter who cast his ballot provisionally because he received an absentee ballot in the mail had a lot of questions for Robinson about the provisional ballot process. The voter, who declined to give his name, didn’t realize he would need to cast a provisional ballot. After, the voter said he was confident his vote would be counted.

One woman told the Dayton Daily News that she had to cast a provisional ballot after scanners in Washington Twp. could not read her ballot.

She said poll workers initially tried to void her ballot so she could vote again, but were unable to do so even after talking to county board of elections officials. In the end, the woman said she filled out a provisional ballot.

Ellis Jacobs, a member of the Miami Valley Voter Protection Coalition, said he received the same complaint. Only a few Ohio voters calling the coalition’s tip line have reported similar problems with a poll worker not knowing how to void a ballot.

Few issues in Miami County; Tipp City after polling place hit by vehicle

Miami County Board of Elections Director Laura Bruns said there have been few issues reported at polling locations in the county and commended the workers at St. John the Baptist Church, where voting was able to continue after a vehicle struck the polling location.

Sam Robinson, the location manager for the polling place at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Tipp City, said voting did not stop when a woman accidentally drove her car into the wall of the church. The location had a few voting stations along the wall that were mostly empty. One voter was close to the impacted wall but she was unharmed, only startled and she finished filling out her ballot a few minutes later.

Robinson said a doctor had just arrived at the polling place and was able to confirm there were no injuries. Police also were at the location doing regular rounds and were on the scene in seconds.

Robinson has been working the polls at this location since 2008. Although there was no line at approximately 12:30 p.m., he said about a hundred people showed up in the morning, more than he’s ever seen.

Bruns said the board and the county sheriff’s office have received no reports of voter intimidation, although they were previously alerted that a group based in Darke County planned to show up to two polling locations in Miami County and “watch.”

“We haven’t heard anything from either polling location and the sheriff’s department has been checking on them,” Bruns said.

She said the county has accommodated “quite a few” curbside voters this election but “not as many as” she expected. So far, that process is running smoothly.

In the 2016 presidential election, Miami County hit 76% voter turnout and Bruns is “optimistic” the county will hit at least 80% this year.

Voting going ‘smoothly' in Warren County

Warren County Election Board Director Brian Sleeth said so far voting in the county has operated smoothly.

Sleeth said there were some lines at precincts when polls opened, but they moved quickly and so far nothing out of the ordinary has taken place in Warren County.

“Things have seemed to settle down,” he said.

More than 50% of the county’s registered voters cast a ballot early this year and Sleeth said the final voter participation number could be north of 80%.

Lines? Depends on the polling place

Polling locations are not seeing the same wait time. While other locations have long lines, voters have no wait.

At First Light Church the Hangar in Vandalia around 2 p.m., voters coming out said they waited about 25 minutes. A poll worker said the approximately 40-person-long-line was the shortest it had been all day and some voters earlier in the day had reported waiting upwards of 45 minutes.

The poll worker told people in line he could move them to the front if they agreed to fill out a ballot on paper instead of using the digital voting machine and a handful volunteered. People exiting the poll who voted manually said they only waited about five minutes.

A handful of people in line did not wear face masks. At least some took the offered disposable face masks.

A short line that appears to be moving has formed outside Lofino Plaza in Beavercreek where Greene County resident are voting early Tuesday afternoon.

Voters could be seen waiting on the sidewalk outside the polling place, the majority wearing masks and socially distancing.

Voter Fadhel Zammouri said he always votes and was surprised by how quickly the lines moved at the Greene County voting center. He said it only took him about 15 minutes to cast a ballot.

“I think it’s one of my rights so I decided to vote,” he said. “It’s how you make decisions.”

At the Thurgood Marshall High School polling location in Dayton, home to four precincts. A poll worker said the longest line they’ve had so far was about 30 people early on.

Another poll worker said there had been about five provisional ballots cast at the location by 8:30 a.m. Two were because voters requested absentee ballots. The rest were because voters did not appear in the official poll list for whatever reason.

Around 9 a.m., there were no lines at St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church In Dayton, home to four precincts and at 9:30 a.m. at Precious Blood Church in Dayton, home to five precincts, voters only had to wait behind a handful of others.

A poll worker there said voters have been “very compliant” with wearing face masks. Those who show up without a mask usually forgot it at home and happily accept a disposable one, she said.

“We haven’t had any fuss about masks,” she said. “They ask for it; they want the masks.”

Little to no lines were observed at two polling locations in Warren and Greene counties Tuesday morning.

Voters at Clearcreek Twp. Fire Station 21 and Vineyard Church appeared to easily get their ballots and cast their votes.

By 7 a.m., about 300 voters snaked around the Sinclair Community College South Campus building. A poll worker estimated voters could wait 45 minutes or more.

“We’re processing as fast as we can,” he said. “I’m so glad they overdid it (with recruiting poll workers) … they didn’t give us enough voting machines … because of COVID rules.”

Sinclair South is the only polling location in Montgomery County with six precincts, the most of any location, and has two voting machines.

The atmosphere inside the polling location is cheerful as workers keep things moving quickly. Applause broke out several times for a first-time voter.

Voters near the back of the line said they did not expect a crowd this large since so many people voted early this election. Over 40% of Montgomery County voters already cast their ballots early by mail or in-person.

Marilyn Berardi said if the line takes too long, she may have to leave to make it to work on time, a concern echoed by other voters. Kris Marin said if he has to leave for work, he’ll come back afterward. Berardi said she wasn’t sure if she would come back.

Amit Gupta said he would wait all day if he had to. Gupta, the CEO of Aeroseal, a manufacturer in Miamisburg, gave all of his approximately 75 employees the day off. He believes Election Day should be a national holiday.

Voters in line repeatedly said they are concerned by whether President Donald Trump and the public would accept the election results, no matter who wins.

Gupta said he is worried about violence and possible voter intimidation that may happen at the polls this year but wasn’t overly worried there would be an issue at his particular polling location this morning.

“People can stand in the (Ohio) capitol with their guns,” he said. “We are the laughingstock of the world. Literally, people are laughing about our elections. We used to send people to monitor elections around the world and now our elections are a joke.”

Voting machines going up in Bellbrook after issue reported

An issue with voting machines at First Baptist Church in Bellbrook have been resolved, said Greene County Election Board Director Llyn McCoy.

The machines had not been working since polls open at 6:30 a.m., but short after 10 a.m. McCoy said a technician was getting the machines “up and running.”

The process will take about 45 minutes, but voters can start using the machines immediately as they begin working.

McCoy told the Dayton Daily News earlier that it was possible the wrong machines were dropped off at the site.

She said there are about 12 machines there. It’s unclear how many of them were not working.

She said the machines in Bellbrook are the only issue the board of elections has encountered this morning.

Right now, voters in those precincts are being asked to vote on paper ballots instead.

“Every precinct down there has 100 ballots per precinct and 150 provisional ballots,” she said.

She said that Greene County has seen early morning lines. Poll workers are working to keep those lines moving.

Voters ready as polls open at 6:30 a.m.

In Warren County, voters began lining up inside New Freedom Church in Lebanon this morning waiting to cast their vote before polls opened at 6:30 a.m.

Stephen Wilson and his son Pete were first in line Tuesday morning and were waiting outside the church’s polling area before polls opened. Both said that they felt his election was important and they wanted to exercise their right to vote.

“This is a huge, huge election for our country,” Stephen Wilson said.

“It’s a huge election, and it’s kind of on the line, it’s big right now,” Pete Wilson said, adding that he will be casting a ballot for President Donald Trump. “It’s every American’s right to vote and people have a say.”

The polls opened on time Tuesday morning in Lebanon and the line appeared to be moving at a steady pace. It appeared all voters waiting in line Tuesday morning were wearing masks along with the precinct officials.

Warren County Board of Elections Director Brian Sleeth told the Dayton Daily News Monday evening that 55% of registered voters in the county voted early. He said he wouldn’t be surprised if voter participation ended up north of 80%.

He said voters should make sure they are going to the correct polling places and social distance once inside.

As voting began today, 3.4 million of the state’s 8.07 million registered voters have already cast absentee ballots or voted in person, according to Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s office.

“Prior to this election, Ohio had never surpassed 2 million total votes in the entirety of the early voting period,” according to the news release. “With 243,023 absentee ballots still outstanding, Ohio’s early vote total is already 180 percent of the previous early vote record and equals 60 percent of the total number of votes cast in the entire 2016 General Election.”

At the Sinclair Community College South Campus about a hundred voters lined up in the cold by the time the polls opened at 6:30 a.m.

Paul, 38, and his mother Elaine Steiner, 73, both of Centerville, were the first in line. They said they came around 5:30 a.m. Elaine’s husband voted by mail but she said she didn’t trust voting by mail.

“My feeling is there’s much less chance of losing my vote, when it’s tickered with everybody else,” she said.

At 6:30 a.m., poll workers let about a dozen people in at a time. Workers politely applauded for the first voters.

Workers are keeping the voters spaced out in the gymnasium.

Voters are receiving a free pen with a soft tip that they’re able to use as a pen and then a stylus on the digital voting machines, so they’re able to avoid touching the machines.

Voters are offered a digital or a paper ballot and most are opting for digital.

Complete coverage from our trusted team of journalists

The Dayton Daily News has a team of journalists dedicated to live coverage today of issues that affect polling places, voter safety and election security and will update this story throughout the day today until polls close.

For those who are casting their ballots today, our 2020 Election Guide offers important information about every contested local race and every issue.

We will track results live tonight, providing the latest updates on the presidential race nationwide and in Ohio, and covering local candidates and tax issues.