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

Warren county still counting

By Erica Solvig
Enquirer staff writer

LEBANON - The Warren County Board of Elections was still counting votes early this morning.

Ballots from the last of the county's 157 precincts still had not arrived by 12:30 a.m. The last precinct out was in the southern Warren community of Maineville, where there were three-hour lines most of the evening.

About half of the county's returns had been tallied by 12:30. With the nation watching for Ohio's results, President Bush was leading in GOP-dominated Warren County with 71 percent to Sen. John Kerry's 28 percent with 88 of 157 precincts reporting unofficial returns.

The county barred reporters from elections board offices during the counting.

After a day of long lines in much of Warren, when the polls closed at 7:30 p.m. those already in line were allowed to continue waiting for their turn to vote.

Elections officials in Ohio's second-fastest-growing county had predicted a 75 percent voter turnout, slightly higher than the 72.6 percent turnout for the last presidential election.

The county started reporting results at 10:30, about two hours later than usual. It was unclear when all the returns might be tallied.

The last voter in the Deerfield Township precinct at the Mason firehouse was John Sowders of Deerfield Township. He'd been there three times earlier in the day, only to find hour- to three-hour- long waits.

He reluctantly came back at 7:15 p.m. and didn't get done until after 10 p.m.

"I wasn't going to do it - my wife made me come up," said Sowders, who'd voted there for about 14 years. "I've never had to wait more than 10 minutes."

E-mail esolvig@enquirer.com