Enquirer News Update   -   Updated 6:40 p.m.

Rain, challengers don't deter voters

By Allen Howard
Enquirer staff writer

The chance to vote in a hotly contested presidential race and for controversial ballot issues easily outweighed the effects of a rainy morning and the unusual presence of polling place challengers to generate the longest lines of voters Hamilton County has seen in years.

Glenn Collins, 42, of Madisonville, walked into Precinct 2-B, at the Madisonville Recreation Center, determined that he would not be challenged.

"I am excited about a lot of issues and candidates in this election,'' said Collins, an Internal Revenue Service agent. "I see a real opportunity for change, especially getting an African-American as a prosecutor and possibly an African-American as the coroner."

Fanon Rucker, an African-American and a Democrat, is running as a write-in candidate for county prosecutor. Dr. O'Dell Owens, an African-American and a Democrat, is running for coroner.

Early this morning, a U.S. Supreme Court justice ended legal efforts to block polling place challengers in Ohio. That allowed representatives from the Republican and Democratic parties to question the legitimacy of voters before they cast their ballots.

There were challengers at the Madisonville polling place, but they hadn't been very disruptive.

"I am not here to challenge anybody," said Elaine Fink, a Kerry-Edwards challenger. "I am just here to make sure our voters don't get challenged."

About five miles away, as the rain became heavier, Bob Mathias, 50, a small businessman in Mariemont, dashed across a parking lot at Mariemont High School to Precinct Mariemont B. He was among 133 voters who had voted by 8 a.m.

"The turnout is great because there are so many issues of taxes and levies and this is probably the most debated presidential election that I can remember. I can't see why anyone would not vote," Mathias said.

In Price Hill, Anne McLaughlin, Emily Leite and Madi Hirschland, all traveled from Bloomington, Ind., to pass out Kerry-Edwards literature in the rain.

"We voted earlier this morning in Bloomington and then headed for Cincinnati," McLaughlin said. "We knew how important Ohio is in this election and we wanted to be here to help."

Peggy League of Price Hill dodged 30-minute waiting lines by waiting until about 10:30 a.m. to vote at Precinct 25-G at St. Williams Church.

Poll workers reported that there were huge lines as early as 7:30 a.m. In the first two hours of voting, lines were 30 to 40 people deep in many precincts.

League said she was a Bush-Cheney supporter.

"I just don't think we should be changing the national administration right in the middle of a war," League said. "The only other presidential election that I can remember that was debated this much was the Kennedy-Nixon election. I think the debates and the issues brought out a lot of people."

E-mail ahoward@enquirer.com