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

Voter turnout heavy in suburbs

By Liz Oakes
and Janice Morse
Enquirer staff writers

Voters turned out in force in suburban communities today, undeterred by steady rains and long lines.

Most polling places had lines when they opened at 6:30 a.m., and lines swelled again at noontime. People were waiting from 45 minutes to more than an hour at the fire station in Mason and also at the Tylersville Road Christian Church in that Warren County city.

Diane Fischer, 47, of Mason, said she waited about 45 minutes this morning at the church without getting to vote, then returned in the late morning and waited another 45 minutes before casting her ballot.

"It shows what our country's about," she said of the strong voter interest. "I think it's very nice to see this much of a turnout. I'm impressed."

Election officials didn't have specific numbers, but across the region reported that turnout was heavy. Polling stations in Middletown were moving smoothly with 5- to 10-minute waits, but in some West Chester and Fairfield precincts, people waited 30 to 40 minutes

Warren and Clermont county officials also reported lines. All the counties were expecting unusually high turnout, 70-75 percent, with Clermont officials projecting turnout as high as 80 to 85 percent - compared to 62 percent in Clermont in the 2000 presidential election.

"It's pretty busy out there," said Susan Johnson, director of Warren County Board of Elections. "The phones are just going crazy" with calls from people wanting to know where to vote, she said.

In Butler County, "we've had a steady traffic this morning, heavier than normal," said Lori Davis, an elections board worker.

"So far, the evidence has been that the lines are moving quickly even though it's a higher turnout than normal," Davis said. She said no major problems have been reported.

Middletown poll workers Judy Throp said there were lines of people waiting when the polls opened at 6:30.

Throp routinely warned voters to "make sure all those chads are off of there." Poll worker Sandy King said everyone seemed to know what chads were, "even the new voters."

"The joke is - we don't want to be another Florida," she said.

E-mail loakes@enquirer.com or jmorse@enquirer.com