Long line of Butler County in-person early voters casts votes

By the time Sunday’s early in-person voting opened at 1 p.m. at the Butler County Board of Elections, 197 people already were there, waiting to go. A county elections official said she expected 1,600 voters by the end of the day, about the same number as on Saturday.

“We voted over 1,600 yesterday,” said Mickey Smith, election services manager for the Board of Elections. She said through the early voting period overall, the number of voters has been “very consistent, very steady,” and heavier than in past years.

Sunday’s voting period at the county board’s offices, 1802 Princeton Road, was to run from 1-5 p.m. Sunday.

Many who appeared Sunday said they did so because they would have had trouble voting on Tuesday — some work out of town, others would be traveling for business, some were poll workers who can’t vote on Election Day, still others wanted to avoid going out during Election Day’s predicted rains. Many said they often vote early for those reasons.

“I won’t have time to vote on Tuesday,” explained Pamela Jewell, 67, of Millville, explaining she works in Cincinnati. “And it’s supposed to rain also, isn’t it?”

“I want my vote to count — if I don’t vote, it’s not going to count,” she said. Like many, she kept private how she planned to vote.

Her husband, Jim Jewell, said he appreciated the flexibility to vote on the weekend: “I think it’s great. It allows you to have the flexibility in your schedule to get out and vote when you want to — not restrict you to just one day.”

“Tuesday, I’m not going to be able to get away from work in time to get to the polls,” said Karen Shanks, 60, also of Millville, who noted, “I vote every year.”

Jamir Moore, 19 of Hamilton, said he’ll be studying Tuesday at Wright State University, where he is majoring in management information systems.

Joel Nickel, 56, of Fairfield, said he hadn’t voted in about two decades, but had been following the elections recently, and decided to vote this year, because, he said, he’s disappointed by “just a lot of upheaval, a lot of trash-talking” this political season.

Lou Zoller, 67, of Fairfield, said he was impressed by the number of people in line, which extended about a block outside the building.

“This election is extremely important,” said Zoller, who said he voted for President Donald Trump in 2016, yet still has been “tremendously surprised” by the impressive job he said he has done: “He’s been amazing, and there’s so many things to come,” said Zoller, who said he believes Trump’s biggest accomplishment may be “reducing the threat of North Korea.”

Claire G. Sweigart, 33, of Liberty Township, said, “I voted in every election since I became an eligible voter, and certainly wasn’t going to miss this one.”

“There’s a lot of energy on both sides, and that’s nice to see — it’s nice to see this many people engaged,” she said, adding she’s more excited to vote this year than others, because, “it seems like an exciting election.”

Looking at the long line, she said, “It makes me hopeful, even though our current rhetoric is divisive and not necessarily what I would like to see for our country. It does make me hopeful that it’s getting more people civically engaged.”

“I think it’s a very important election,”said Aaron Steele, 37, of Fairfield Township, who attended with his wife and two young children. “This is historic, given what’s going in the country right now, and I think it’s our civic duty to come out here.”

As he left, when he looked at the long outdoor line of people waiting to vote, he said the number of voters “gives me hope. It gives me hope in America, quite frankly. The more people who come out, I think, the better. Regardless of how you vote, regardless of what you feel, what you believe in. Exercise your rights.”

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