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Despite a long wait, people were patient and pleasant

Monday, November 7, 2016

By William K. Alcorn


Katrina Simms of Youngstown was one of an estimated 800 to 1,000 people who stood in line Sunday at the Mahoning County Board of Elections to vote early for Tuesday’s general election.

Simms and her daughter, Nadia, 11, waited two hours for Simms to cast her vote for the Democratic Party’s candidate for president, Hillary Clinton.

Simms, who said she is nervous about the outcome of the election, which she believes will be very close, brought Nadia with her “so she could see the process and how important it is to vote.”

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th, greeted people as they waited in line and thanked them for voting.

“I’m so proud of these people who are waiting two hours to vote. It’s impressive,” Ryan said.

The board of elections at 345 Oak Hill Ave. was open from 1 to 5 p.m. for early voting.

Among those waiting patiently in the line were first-time early voters Jeff and Karen Halley of Canfield, who said they were voting for Clinton.

“I’m a Republican, but I can’t vote for Trump,” said Karen.

The Halleys said their two adult children filed absentee ballots, something the parents said they might consider for the next election.

Another Canfield resident, Beth Bonish, who got in line at 3:30 p.m. and still faced a significant wait at 5, said she chose to vote early because she anticipated some chaos at the polls on Election Day.

A social worker who works at an area hospital, Bonish said she has noticed an “increase in anxiety” in patients as the election nears.

“People are uptight about the issues and candidates for president,” she said.

Kimberly Kitchen of Youngstown, a 1991 graduate of Cardinal Mooney High School who will soon graduate from Youngstown State University with a degree in criminal justice, said she is voting for Clinton.

“It’s worth the wait to vote today. I want to make sure I get my vote in so I can relax on Tuesday,” Kitchen said.

Tim Rogers of Youngstown, the last man in the early voting line Sunday, said it was the only time he could cast his ballot because of his work schedule.

“It’s important for me to vote. I vote in every election, and this election I’m voting for Hillary,” Rogers said.

Though the lines and the waits have been long, and the presidential election is more contentious than usual and emotions are running high on both sides, there have been no problems, said Joyce Kale-Pesta, board of elections director.

Pesta said the lines were longer in the 2008 presidential election year than this year, but not as bad as in the 2012 general election.

“All I want is that whoever wins, wins big so we don’t have to have a recount,” Pesta said, only half joking.