Early voting affecting bus routes
MARIETTA – An extra stop was added to the Washington-Morgan Community Action Bus Line during election season but drivers for the line say no voters have taken advantage of it.
No riders have used the service to vote at the new site of the Washington County Board of Elections office on Davis Avenue since early voting began Oct. 1, the drivers said Tuesday.
“We haven’t had anyone ride who’s voting early so far,” said CABL driver Carl Davis. “But if we did drop someone off there they would have to wait an hour before we could pick them up to take them back downtown.”
He added that the wait could be as much as two hours for riders when the driver takes his hour lunch break at 11 a.m.
From Oct. 1 through Nov. 5 CABL service is being routed past the 204 Davis Ave. location of the board of elections so that folks who would like to take advantage of early voting and need transportation to the elections office can do so.
During last week’s Marietta City Council meeting Councilman Tom Vukovic, D-4th Ward, said he had been told the CABL buses were dropping voters off below the elections office on Davis Avenue because the bus drivers could not turn around in the parking lot near the board of elections office entrance.
Davis said Tuesday the turnaround can be tight, especially if there are a lot of cars parked in that lot, but the buses have always been able to make the turn.
Vukovic said he was glad to know the buses were able to deliver voters to the office entrance.
“But voters who ride the bus would still have to wait at least an hour to be picked back up again, and if they know that they may just be deciding not to vote at the election board office,” he said.
Vukovic has expressed concern that the relocation of the board of elections office from the county courthouse to the Davis Avenue site earlier this year would have an impact on the early voting process because the office is the sole location where voters can cast an early ballot during each election.
Community Action Director David Brightbill said he’s received no complaints about the bus service to the Davis Avenue location from riders or drivers.
“And we’re continuing to run our normal schedule in that area, except in the early morning and mid afternoons when high school traffic is heavy on Davis Avenue,” he said.
Personnel at the board of elections office said they’ve had no complaints about the bus service, but as far as they know there have been no early voters using the CABL to access the new office location.
Board of Elections Director Tara Hupp said as of Tuesday afternoon 1,314 early ballots had been cast-most of those by mail.
“We’ve had 325 people who have come in to vote,” she said. “In 2009 there was a total of 3,431 early ballots, and 1,551 of those voted in the office.”
Hupp noted this is an off-year election with no statewide or county-wide issues, so voter turnout is expected to be light. She added that there were at least three statewide issues on the ballot in 2009, which would have helped beef up the turnout that year.
“The number of voters often just depends on the type of election,” she said. “And we’ve been pretty busy with early voting here this year. Many people have complimented us on the availability of parking and more room for early voting booths at this site.”
Early voting at the election board office ends at 2 p.m. Nov. 4.