I voted this morning around 7:30 A.M., in an inner-ring suburb on the east side of Cleveland (University Heights). The weather was (and still is) cold and gray, and the sidewalks were slippery and frozen this morning.
My polling place was busy, but the line for my precinct was only three deep. Cuyahoga County has just switched to optical scan ballots (after some dreadful problems with touch-screen machines.)
When I got my ballot, all the booths were full. The poll worker offered me a board to use to fill in my ballot, if I didn't want to wait for a booth. I took it, took a seat in the corner, and filled in my circles with a black rollerball pen (also provided).
Unlike other optical scan counties, there is no scanner at the polling place that scans your ballot in front of you. So, unlike other counties, if a Cuyahoga voter doesn't adequately fill in the circles, there is no second chance at darkening them. Also, because my ballot was not scanned before it went in to the ballot box, I am a little concerned about the ballots themselves. I had to force my ballot into the box, as other ballots were all bunched up within the box. I wonder how the ballots will scan if they are all creased up and mangled from being stuffed into the ballot box.
And then there was the "stub" issue.
The ballots have a perforated stub on the bottom of them that say "DO NOT REMOVE." But when I got up to the ballot box, they told me to remove the stub before placing the ballot in the box. While I was voting, I overheard someone arguing with a poll worker over whether that would spoil the ballot, but she insisted this was correct. So, I removed the stub and handed it to the poll work, who deposited it into an envelope on the table in front of her.
On my way out, I saw a card from the BOE with detailed instructions on how to vote with the new ballots. Of course, there was no mention either way about this stub. So I took the card and called the county BOE about it, just to be sure. They told me that removal of the stub from the completed ballot in front of the poll worker was appropriate. So, I hope that is actually the case.
The ballots won't be scanned until tonight at the county Board of Elections. Cuyahoga is a large and populous county, and heavily Democratic. If this election is close, we probably will not know tonight who won Ohio, since Cuyahoga's outcome is critical on any statewide election.
As it is, one of the scanners failed in a test last week. If the replacement were delivered as promised, there will be just 16 scanners counting all of these primary votes in our county tonight.