Trenton councilman Ryan Montgomery votes at Edgewood Middle School Tuesday, March 15. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Polls remain open based on judge’s order

UPDATE: 7:59 p.m.

From the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office: United States District Court Judge Susan Dlott has ordered the polls in Butler, Clermont, Hamilton and Warren Counties will remain open until 8:30pm.

This is due to a traffic issue in the region.

Election results will not be interrupted.

According to our news partners, WCPO 9 On Your Side, a semi-truck may have pushed a car off the Combs-Hehl Brirdge on Interstate 275 near Coney Island during a series of chain-reaction crashes that happened about 4:30 p.m.

WCPO reports that 12 vehicles were involved in the chain reaction on the bridge, according to Campbell County Police Chief Craig Sorrell. Injuries to the motorists on the bridge were not life-threatening, he said.

A car fell off the bridge into the Ohio River, and attempts to pull the car out of the river are underway, according to WCPO.

UPDATE: 7:44 p.m.

The Butler County Board of Elections will release election results on its website and Facebook page beginning at 8 p.m. with early vote and absentee ballots.

Nearly 9,300 votes were cast by Butler County voters in advance of Election Day, which is only slightly better than 2008 results.

At 8:30 p.m., if not sooner, the elections board anticipates results for Election Day voting to be updated on the website and Facebook page. Updates will be made every 15 minutes thereafter as polling place results come in to the Butler County Board of Elections office.

The Butler County Board of Elections is anticipating voter turnout to be at 40 percent, which will exceed the past two presidential primary elections (2008 and 2012).

UPDATE: 5:45 p.m.

Poll workers were busy in Hamilton at several polling locations as a steady wave of voters turned out to cast their ballot on Election Day.

With several critical issues on the ballot, many arrived at the polls focused on the presidential primary as their key motivation for getting out to vote.

Highland Elementary was one of eight polling locations around the city that had a steady get-out-and-vote crowd.

Amy Weiss, who described herself as a relative newcomer to the county, said she was keeping who she voted for to herself, but needed to get out to the polls to make a difference.

“The race is so close and I am a Republican so each vote counts,” she said. “You always wonder if half of the people that are complaining are going to vote, but the people seem really fired up this election.”

The Hamilton Freshman School was also busy on Election Day according to poll workers. Their day was just as busy as other locations.

Brian Jones said the line moved smoothly and his voting experience, “was an easy one,” but the choices were not so easily resolved.

“My preference is for Hillary since I am a Democrat, but Bernie Sanders has come on strong,” he said. “I’m just hoping that we do not see Donald Trump get the presidency.”

UPDATE: 4:35 p.m.

Butler County Board of Elections officials said turnout is on pace to reach 40 percent, which is a couple percentage points higher than the 2008 primary election.

That would project turnout to be between 93,000 to 94,000 voters casting a ballot on Tuesday, or in the four weeks of early voting in Ohio.

While voter turnout in 2008 was at 38 percent, turnout was much lower in the 2012 primary in Butler County when it was at 12 percent.

Jocelyn Bucaro, Butler County elections board’s deputy director, said there are “three things are really driving turnout” this election: the two competitive presidential primary races and the 8th Congressional District race.

She said in the 2008 primary, the Hillary Clinton-Barack Obama was the only marquee competitive race.

The two countywide levies have also brought out voters. Voters are deciding a renewal mental health levy and a renewal and increase levy for MetroParks of Butler County.

“Levies always bring voters out,” Bucaro said.

One interesting aspect in this election is the provisional ballots being cast at Shriver Center at Miami University in Oxford. She said there were more than 220 provisional ballots cast by students, when just more than 100 was likely to be expected.

“Poll workers had given us reports at the location that someone was directing students inside (Shriver) to vote,” Bucaro said.

The validity of those ballots won’t be known until the official run is conducted about a week and a half after Election Day.

UPDATE: 3:49 p.m.

At Rosa Parks Elementary School in Middletown, site manager Michael Young said there were 130 voters as of noon, a number he called “less than I expected.”

Young said he figured the crowd would be larger because of the presidential primary.

Still, he said, more voters are expected later this afternoon and early evening.

Geneva Derrico, 82, was one of those who voted this morning at Rosa Parks Elementary. Derrico said she wanted to vote for Hillary Clinton as the Democratic presidential nominee. While she also supports the other Democratic candidate, Bernie Sanders, she said Clinton’s experience in the White House when her husband served as president, makes her the clear candidate.

“She knows what to do. She has been in the White House,” Derrico said. “She knows as much as the president knows. She has been there and I’m sure she has been watching them. We need to have a woman. She knows too much to let that man (Donald Trump) be president.”

UPDATE: 3:05 p.m.

Poll workers at Fairfield Middle School and Fairfield Municipal Building reported a steady flow of voters since polls opened at 6:30 a.m.

One poll worker at Fairfield Middle School said there has been only a few times where fewer than six of more than a dozen voting machines had been in use at the same time.

Jean Brown, of Fairfield, cast her ballot early this afternoon, and it wasn’t any one issue or candidate that brought her to the Fairfield Municipal Building to vote. It was civic duty.

“I always vote,” she said. “I believe in casting my ballot to have a say in how our country is run.”

Rita Mohler, of Fairfield, voted at the Fairfield Middle School and said she voted “to help the Democrats.”

“I like Bernie Sanders but he wasn’t who I voted for,” she said.

Though she doesn’t like Donald Trump, she does admit he has gotten some excitement in the election process.

Matt Rivera, 19, of Farifield, said he voted because he wanted to “take advantage of the opportunity,” but no specific race drew him to the polls at Fairfield Middle School. However, he said, “I’m just happy if Trump is not president.”

Herbert Asher, of Fairfield, didn’t want to say who he supported, but said the issues were the important decisions he needed to weigh in on. He supported both of the county pocketbook issues on the ballot, the mental health and MetroParks levies.

Supporting those levies was also what brought Valerie Robinson, of Fairfield, out to the polls.

“I have friends with mental health issues, and I used to work in the industry,” she said of the mental health levy.

Robinson also said she and her kids and grandchildren “use the parks greatly” and want to see them stay.

UPDATE: 1:35 p.m.

Unlike some other political contests at the national level and across the country, civility was on exhibit this morning outside Miami University Middletown’s Verity Lodge.

David Schul, 74, of Middletown, campaigned there on behalf of Joe Mulligan, and 19-year-old Kara Elam, of Germantown, right next to him carried a sign for his opponent, Candace Keller, in the Republican 53rd District Ohio House race.

“I’m a student, and it’s good experience, and I know Candace,” said Elam, who attends Wright State University but had no classes today. “I used to go to the same church with her and I’ve helped out at the Walk for Life for the pregnancy center, so I’m just out here to support her.”

Schul, meanwhile, said, “I’m a friend of Joe’s, and support his views. We’ve known the Mulligans since we’ve been here. It’s a lot of years now.”

Like Schul and Elam, who were getting along nicely, representing the opposing candidates side by side, the pair said they were impressed with the good manners that the candidates have shown during the campaign.

“Both Joe and Candace are doing a good job of getting their names out there, and I think it’s been democracy at work,” Schul said.

“I feel about the same,” Elam added. “It’s a good, clean race, and I’m happy about it.”

UPDATE: 1:29 p.m.

Bobby Huff, a resident of the Village of New Miami, voted at the school in St. Clair Twp.

“I usually vote Democrat, but I didn’t today,” he said.

Huff said he pulled a Republican ballot and cast his vote for Donald Trump.

“I think people are tired of government that continues do not nothing for people,” Huff said, noting he voted for President Barack Obama and has been disappointed. “I just don’t think anyone I working for the people. I am a veteran.”

He added from now on he will not be voting for anybody now in office.

Kathy McFarland, location supervisor in Madison Twp., where voters cast ballots in the auxiliary gym at Madison Local Schools, said traffic was “consistently steady” during the morning hours.

McFarland said there were people waiting in line to vote at 6 a.m.

UPDATE: 1:16 p.m.

For most voters who were willing to discuss how they voted at Miami University Middletown’s Verity Lodge, the biggest thing on their mind was Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, with strong feelings about him – positive and negative.

For some of those same voters, the races to fill the seat of former U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-West Chester; and the 53rd District Ohio House race were barely on the radar.

“Donald Trump,” won the vote of Chris Combs, 32, of Middletown: “Because he wants to make America great again.”

As for the 8th congressional district race, “to be honest with you, I don’t know much about those ones.”

Combs, like all the several others who revealed their votes, said he voted for the mental health and parks levies.

“Elections are always important,” said Deb Hosman, 61, of Middletown. “This one’s kind of scary – probably one of the scariest I can remember in my voting history.”

“I voted strategically, let me put it that way, so I picked a Republican ballot, which was a little jarring,” Hosman said. “Just to make a statement against Mr. Trump.

“He’s an incredibly scary man,” she said. “I think he’ll get us in World War III.”

Hosman said she voted for both levies. As for the 53rd District race between Joe Mulligan and Candace Keller, “I just stayed out of that one,” she said. “I’m not a conservative. Mr. Mulligan’s a nice man, I’ve seen him in action on (Middletown) City Council, but a little too conservative for me. So I just kind of passed on that.”

“I went for Trump,” said Jo Perry, 77, of Middletown. “I know he’s been getting in a lot of arguments and everything, but I think he’s doing that just to aggravate them. I think he’s on the track. It’ll be interesting to see what happens.”

She wasn’t sure who got her vote on the 8th Congressional District, and thought she might have voted for Keller in the Ohio House race.

Doug Curl, 47, of Middletown, voted Republican, and went for Trump: “I like that he’s telling it like it is,” he said.

On the 8th congressional race, he said: “Didn’t really have an opinion.”

And the 53rd District race? “Never really followed it,” he said.

*“I came out to vote because it’s our privilege and our duty,” said Kay Fraley, 91, of Middletown. She said this year’s elections “are really jumbled – there’s so many throwing their hat in the ring, and it’s not just two or three to go for. There’s just so many.”

“I’m an independent, but I voted Republican,” said Fraley, who said she hadn’t followed the race to fill Boehner’s seat.

*“That’s your duty” to vote, said Annie O’Doll, 62, of Middletown, explaining why she voted. “We came a mighty long way to be able to do it, so I’m going to do it every time I possibly can.…. If they’ve got to wheel me, or whatever, I’m going to vote.”

She voted Democrat and voted for Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders because, “Bernie’s too old.”

UPDATE: 1:10 p.m.

It’s a brisk ballot day at Independence Elementary School in Liberty Twp. with poll workers saying turnout has been solidly steady.

“There was a rush this morning and now it’s very steady,” local poll supervisor Gerri Mersch said of the lunch hour flow of voters. “It makes me proud to see all these people coming in to cast their ballots,” she said.

UPDATE: 1 p.m.

Voting has been heavier than expected and very steady today at the three Middletown precincts where ballots were being filled out at Miami University Middletown’s Verity Lodge.

“We’re up. We have more than we expected,” said the polling place’s location supervisor, Amy Baird, of Middletown, who has worked at the polls many years. Voters “are pretty intent – definitely clear on what they’re here to do.”

“It’s good and steady,” she said. “We’ve had a couple lines.”

Voting at Verity Lodge was running smoothly with the dozen poll workers at the site, she said.

“We’ve got new workers who are well trained and enthusiastic,” Baird said.

To volunteer to be a poll worker in future elections, contact the Butler County Board of Elections, she said.

UPDATE: 12:30 p.m.

Paul Gomia, location supervisor of the polling place at the MidPointe Library in Middletown, said there was “a little confusion” by voters on what it means to vote in a primary. He said they did not understand why they were asked to announce for which party they were voting.

He also said residents were confused by the number of people vying for John Boehner’s seat and why their names were listed twice.

Gomia said that as of 12:30, there had been 144 voters, which he said was “a little slower than the last election.

He said he expected a larger turnout after work today.

UPDATE: 12:05 p.m.

Angela Martin, who was voting at Little Miami this morning, said she would support all three levy questions and that she cast her ballot for Gov. John Kasich.

“I don’t like Trump, I wanted to cancel out Trump,” Martin said.

Donna Lenos said she came out to vote mainly for the presidential race, but also to support the Trenton police levy.

“Trenton is a good city and we’re not immune to the problems that go on in the other cities,” Lenos said. “We need the extra police and they have always been very supportive of the citizens of Trenton.”

She wouldn’t reveal who she picked for president, but said “Let’s just say I voted against some people.”

UPDATE: 11:55 a.m.

Turnout at the polls today is higher than last November, when the county had 38 percent turnout, according to the Butler County Board of Elections.

“We feel pretty confident we’re probably going to be at 40 percent or above for this election,” said Jocelyn Bucaro, deputy director for the board of elections. “It’s (also) higher than it normally is in a primary election.”

Areas seeing greater turnout than others include Fairfield, Liberty Twp., West Chester Twp., Trenton and parts of Oxford, she said.

“Edgewood has been really high, for them,” Bucaro said. “As of 11 o’clock at Edgewood, they had 655 voters. Last November, when they called in at 11 (a.m.), they’d only had 362, so that’s (almost) twice as many as they had in November by this time. That’s our biggest jump of any location over last November.”

Some locations are already at more than 20 percent turnout “and we’re not even halfway through the day,” she said.

All polling locations opened on time and some minor technical glitches were all “resolvable” and handled over the phone, Bucaro said.

“The only real issue that we’re finding is that some voters are questioning why they’re being asked for a party,” she said. “We posted something on our website to kind of explain why they’re asked what party they want.”

UPDATE: 11:31 a.m.

Dale and Lisa Ridenour, who voted at Talawanda Middle School, said the police levy is what brought them to the polls.

“We need our police big time, we need good police,” said Dale Ridenour, who added the crime rate is also up, so they needed to support the 5.25-mill levy.

The couple said they were voting for Trump and predicted Gov. John Kasich would lose his home state.

Brenda Powell, who was at the Little Miami Local School Tuesday morning, said she voted for Ted Cruz and said “I hope not” when asked if Kasich might win his home state. Powell said she voted in favor of the St. Clair Twp. mental health and MetroParks levies.

Several voters said they did not cast a vote in the District 8 race for former House Speaker John Boehner’s congressional seat.

“Some of those I don’t vote on because I really don’t know a whole lot about them,” Powell said. “If I don’t know about it I just don’t even vote.”

UPDATE: 11:10 a.m.

Voting at Midpointe Library West Chester is “higher than normal,” according to poll official Jim Price of that West Chester Twp. voting location.

“So far today it has been go, go, go with a pretty steady flow of voters, and so far it’s running smoothly,” Price said.

UPDATE: 10:37 a.m.

There was a sparse collection of voters at New Miami Local School, but poll supervisor James Moeller, Hamilton Mayor Pat Moeller’s brother, described the turnout as “steady.”

Voters there are deciding three levies, the St. Clair Twp. levy and the countywide mental health and MetroParks of Butler County ballot questions. Johnny Peal said he always votes for levies and he also filled in the dot next to Donald Trump’s name. What brought him out to vote?

“To get rid of what’s in office today,” he said. “Not just Republicans, not just Democrats, all of them gotta go.”

UPDATE: 10:15 a.m.

Voters at Talawanda Middle School were lined up when the polls opened and a steady stream of people keep coming. Most voters said they were supporting all of the levies on the ballot, including the Trenton 5.25-mill police levy.

One elderly couple, Joe and Bebe Orth, said they hadn’t completely made up their minds yet, because they said if it is approved, their property taxes would increase by a couple hundred dollars.

“I’m hoping they’ll put it back on with not as much,” Bebe Orth said. “We want to vote for it, but we feel like it’s a little too high. We need the police force, but that soured (their feelings about voting for it) unless we change our mind when we get in there because our conscience will bother us.”

The couple said they have always voted Democratic but hadn’t completely made up their minds.

“I think a woman would be a good change,” Joe Orth said. “We don’t want Trump.”

FIRST REPORT

Polls opened at 6:30 a.m. today statewide and people are turning out to cast their ballot in what could be a decisive day for the campaigns of Donald Trump and Ohio. Gov. John Kasich.

Voters are turning out in a steady stream at Miami Middletown’s Verity Lodge, more than officials initially expected.

Poll workers in Madison Twp. said some voters were in line 30 minutes before polls opened.

Today’s weather forecast is expected to find Mother Nature cooperating — to a point, said StormCenter 7 Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini.

To check out a voter guide covering all candidates and issues in Butler and Warren counties, visit http://vote.journal-news.com. For further details on voting, visit www.myohiovote.com.

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Staff writers Wayne Baker, Denise Callahan, Michael D. Clark, Rick McCrabb, Lauren Pack, Michael D. Pitman, Mike Rutledge and Eric Schwartzberg contributed to this report.

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