Large Butler County early voting crowds cause traffic changes near Board of Elections

Voters showing up to cast ballots early have clogged traffic in Hamilton, causing officials to reroute drivers and post sheriff’s deputies as traffic cops.

The bottleneck at the intersection of Ohio 129 and Hampshire Drive caused officials to close Hampshire during voting hours and reroute drivers over to Bypass 4 and onto Princeton Road, where the Board of Elections sits.

Butler County Sheriff’s Office Chief Anthony Dwyer said the decision was made to disallow turns onto Hampshire Drive from either direction on Ohio 129 during voting times and send people to the bypass. Drivers can exit the area via Hampshire Drive.

He has three deputies stationed in the area to help with traffic flow. They were helping with the flow from the bypass onto Princeton Road on Thursday.

“We had our guys manning those stations physically and we have to go back to that if the traffic on westbound Princeton continues to go with nobody being able to turn, we may have to physically take over that intersection to get the traffic flowing...,” Dwyer said. “You can only put so much water in a cup.”

ExploreButler County elections officials dealing with high turnout, coronavirus cases: How it’s going?

Early voting began on Oct. 6 and Board of Elections Deputy Director Eric Corbin said they mailed out around 54,500 absentee ballots and about 15,000 people have cast ballots. He said closing Hampshire doesn’t appear to be hampering the voting process.

“The room has still been very busy, but we have not had long lines that kept the room open past the closing time,” Corbin said. “So I think people are still getting in.”

Betsy Horton in Butler County Engineer Greg Wilkens' office said they have been working with the Ohio Department of Transportation to see about tweaking the turn signals on the bypass so more cars get thorough.

Scott Scrimizzi, Hamilton’s executive director of public safety, said emergency vehicles can still get through at Hampshire Drive.

Hamilton Councilwoman Susan Vaughn updated the rest of council on the situation Wednesday night.

“I was out there today and it was probably the worst that I’ve seen,” she said about the traffic.