In Cuyahoga County, Ohio, voters have gotten used to waiting in long lines under gloomy skies. Today, with record turnout expected, voters are finding short lines and unseasonably warm temperatures.
The voting problems that have cropped up so far in Ohio have been minor. Despite a few glitches and high turnout Director of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, Jane Platten says so far they have had a "very good morning."
So what's different?
-Early voting. Cuyahoga County is home to about 1.1 million registered voters, a number that has increased by about 100,000 since the 2004 presidential election. This is the first presidential election in which the county has sponsored early voting. About 250,000 people voted before November 4th or voted absentee which has relieved some of the stress on neighborhood polling precincts.
-New voting technology. Cuyahoga has instituted optical scan ballot machines exclusively which, as of this writing, have had minimal problems. Up until 2005 the County used punchcard ballots which were difficult to count. In March of 2006, Cuyahoga used two vote-counting technologies - optical scan ballots for absentee voters and touch screens at the polling locations. Now, all poll workers are trained one system and so far the problems are minimal.
-Low poll worker absentee rate. The County employs 8,599 poll workers for the election. About 2% of the workers did not show up to work at their precinct. Compare that with a 20% absentee rate in 2004 and 2006.