Local voters show up, surprised Ohio primary postponed

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One elections director said she's never seen a voting delayed like this before

(WKBN) – There was no voting in Ohio Tuesday due to an emergency health order because of COVID-19. Some voters who didn’t realize the primary election in Ohio was postponed showed up at their polling places and were surprised by what they found.

A sign outside of the Trumbull County Board of Elections says, “Ohio’s primary election delayed.”

Director Stephanie Penrose said this is something they’ve never seen before.

“I don’t think anybody’s ever seen anything like this. I don’t think voting has ever been delayed, at least not in Ohio.”

“Technically, today is Election Day but nobody can vote because you can’t vote in person at the board of elections the day of,” Sen. Sean O’Brien said.

Because of COVID-19 and concerns with having people in close quarters to cast their ballots, the polls never opened Tuesday.

“There are precautions we should take but to not vote is not one of them,” said Shirley Byrd, of Warren. “We should have still been allowed to vote and express ourselves.”

Ohio’s March 17 primary has been delayed until June 2 with no more in-person voting until then.

“We’re dealing with something that’s never been done before,” O’Brien said. “This is unprecedented. It’s causing a lot of concern. I understand why the governor and the secretary of state did it, I just wish they would have done it where they called the general assembly in and had us vote on it.”

Inside the board of elections, employees were answering endless phone calls from voters with questions, while some people stopped in to request their ballots by mail.

“I really want to vote,” Byrd said.

Kathy Meyers, of Boardman, said she usually votes absentee but decided to vote in person this time. She said the last thing she heard before going to bed was that the election was still on.

“I showed up to vote. The last I heard about 9:30 last night was that the voting was still going on. I usually vote after work but I decided to come early today. I am a little upset about it. We have a right to vote. It’s just ridiculous. I have no words right now.”

Voters can still vote absentee in Ohio before the rescheduled election on June 2.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Health Director Dr. Amy Acton called off Tuesday’s election just hours before polls were set to open to combat the spread of the new coronavirus.

DeWine initially asked a court to delay the vote. When a judge refused to do so, Acton declared a health emergency to keep the polls from opening.

Mahoning County Board of Elections Deputy Director Tom McCabe said workers were out late last night, putting up signs to let voters know the election date was changed.

He said voters who showed up Tuesday would be directed to vote absentee or come back June 2.

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