INDEPENDENCE, Ohio – In this suburban Republican town in a Democratic stronghold county, voters were lined up out the door when polls opened at 6:30 a.m., officials said. But amid the heavy turnout were signs of the voting problems that both sides have been worried about.
An unusually large number of voters – 15 out of the 415 by mid-morning at a polling station here – had cast provisional ballots. The reason was simple: In most cases, the voters had requested absentee ballots but failed to submit them in time. That meant their ballots here on voting day were provisional until validated by county elections officials.
The practical upshot was potentially daunting for those watching Ohio as the potential linchpin of the national vote. Election officials say it will take 10 days to validate and count provisional ballots – possibly delaying the publication of results. If enough provisional ballots are cast here, and the race is especially close, a cliffhanger could result.
Overall, however, voting appeared brisk here in the greater Cleveland area, with crisp weather beneath flawless blue skies.
“There’s no voter apathy here,” said county board of elections official John Aden, who said the pace of balloting was similar to the last presidential vote, in 2008.