Butler County’s new voting equipment ‘working well’ in primary election

Ohio voters can cast early votes at the Butler County Board of Elections, 1802 Princeton Road, Hamilton, from now until Monday, March 16. Election Day is Tuesday, March 17. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/FILE
Caption
Ohio voters can cast early votes at the Butler County Board of Elections, 1802 Princeton Road, Hamilton, from now until Monday, March 16. Election Day is Tuesday, March 17. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/FILE

This primary election, and the subsequent election in November, caused the state to spend millions of dollars to help county boards of elections buy new voting machines.

And the system could be put to its test as more voters are expected to cast early ballots now that Super Tuesday’s 14 Democratic primaries are over.

Butler County’s $7.5 million voting machine system, which included $3.2 million from Ohio, is “working well, and the staff is learning a lot about the new system,” said Butler County Board of Elections Deputy Director Eric Corbin.

“Voters have been able to use the machines easily due to their similarity to the old machines, but there are a lot of voters who will experience the new machines for the first time in November of 2020,” he said.

HISTORICAL PHOTOS: How voting technology has changed in Butler County

The county unveiled its new touch-screen voting system in the November 2019 election, which will not allow a voter to over-vote any contest, and will be prompted if they undervote a race.

Butler County voters will have a few primary decisions to make, including five tax issues. Among the decisions, Republicans will decide nominees for a pair of judicial races, Ohio’s 8th Congressional District, the4th Ohio Senate District, and the 52nd and 53rd Ohio House races. Democrats will choose nominees for president and Ohio’s 8th Congressional District.

Through the first 14 days of early voting in Ohio, Butler County saw more than 4,400 votes. In-office voting is about 600 votes higher than in 2016, “so we are expecting to see a higher turnout,” Corbin said. The first weeks of early voting are usually slow, he said, compared to the week before the election.

Voting is also expected to pick up as the country’s biggest contest becomes more clear after a third of the Democratic Party’s delegates were decided Tuesday. Ahead of what’s known as Super Tuesday — as 14 states held primaries with 1,300-plus delegates at stake — five major Democratic presidential candidates were seeking the party’s nomination.

EARLY VOTING: Ohio has offered early voting for 15 years. How has it grown in Butler County?

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, and former Vice President Joe Biden were first and second among the active candidates going into Super Tuesday. Other active candidates are Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, and billionaire Mike Bloomberg.

Before Tuesday’s primaries, former South Bend, Ind. mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and billionaire hedge fund manager Tom Steyer all dropped from the race.

The winner will face President Donald Trump in November.

“We imagine the results from the Super Tuesday elections in other states may help some undecided voters in Ohio make a final decision,” Corbin said.

Butler County Democratic Party Executive Chairman Brian Hester said although more Democratic ballots have come in than the first 14 days of early voting in 2016, most voters have waited to vote.

“I expect, as we see every election, an exponential increase in voting as the March 17 primary approaches over the next two weeks,” he said.

Butler County GOP Executive Chairman Todd Hall said his party has responded well, too.

“Early voting is a convenience for our registered voters, and allows more legal participation in the process,” he said.

Early voting is underway, either by requesting an absentee ballot to vote by mail, or by visiting the Butler County Board of Elections, 1802 Princeton Road. Extended in-office voting hours start next week, and voters can cast in-office ballots on Saturday.


BY THE NUMBERS

Here are how Butler County’s elections numbers break down through the first 14 days of early voting (data as of 10 a.m. Tuesday):

Democrats: 1,869 (1,346 by mail, 523 at elections office)

Republicans: 2,441 (1,599 by mail, 842 at elections office)

Issues Only: 122 (80 by mail, 42 at elections office)

Source: Butler County Board of Elections

WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU VOTE

• Early voting is at the board of elections office. The hours are: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays from now to Friday, March 6; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 7; 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, March 9 to Friday, March 13; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 14; 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 15; and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday, March 16.

• All vote-by-mail ballots must be postmarked by Monday, March 16. You may have to ask your post office to postmark the envelope. You may hand-deliver your vote-by-mail ballot to the elections office any time until 7:30 p.m. on Election Day.

• Election Day is Tuesday, March 17, and polls are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. If you are in line when polls close you will be allowed to cast a ballot.

About the Author

ajc.com