Early voters have many reasons

Alberta Morales of Warren gets assistance from Kelly Karapetsas, an election specialist at Trumbull County Board of Elections on Sunday.

WARREN –Whether concerned of not being able to get time off from work, afraid of facing very long lines or  expecting the arrival of a first grandchild, Trumbull County residents had a variety of reasons for voting early this weekend.

Long lines of residents stood outside the Trumbull County Board of Elections for the second weekend of early voting. Almost a 1,000 people voted this weekend, according to local election officials.

Cortland resident Becky Bucco said she did not want to wait until Tuesday for a very important reason.

”My daughter’s due date is Election Day, and I didn’t want to take the chance and miss the arrival of my first grandchild,” Bucco said noting she waited about an hour to vote Sunday.

Many people went to church in the morning, went to lunch and then arrived at the Youngstown Road SE office in the early afternoon. The board offices were open four hours Sunday for voting.

On Saturday, 570 people stopped to vote at the office during eight hours. A total of 411 people voted Sunday.

Stephanie Penrose, staff director at the board of elections, said early voting started Oct. 12 but Saturday and Sunday voting days occurred the last two weeks.

”This weekend is a lot busier than last weekend. We had people today waiting a half hour in line before we opened,” Penrose said, noting the voting in advance of the presidential election is setting records locally.

”This is par for the course whenever there is a presidential election. If it was just local issues and candidates, we would not have nearly as many early voters. We do get early voters for other elections but nothing like this,” Penrose said.

She said more people were aware this weekend the board offices were opened on Saturday and Sunday compared to last weekend.

Penrose said the early voting does help poll workers on Election Day because of a lesser number of voters, but she said the office staff has a lot more work to do because of the high number of early voters.

”The early voting does help lessen the Election Day lines,” she said.

Penrose said she remembers working 30 hours for the 2008 presidential election which produced a large voter turnout locally.

”I expect we will be here to the middle of the night for Tuesday’s election,” she said but noted the national election will likely take longer.

Niles resident Ed Kraft said he decided after seeing the long line he would just wait until Tuesday.

”I can’t stand that long because of my handicap, so I will just wait until Tuesday. That line stretched all around the building,” Kraft said.

Warren resident Alberta Morales said this is the first time she has ever voted early.

”I decided the sun is shining, and it’s a  nice day which it may not be Tuesday, so I decided to come out and vote. I am surprised how quickly the line is moving,” Morales said who waited 30 minutes.

Warren residents Huey and Rosaria Harris said they have voted early before so they did not mind the wait.

”We drove by the other day, and it was a much longer line than today. The line has been moving pretty quick,” Huey Harris said.

Shannon Shelton of Warren transported several young people who are serving in the military to the election offices.

”I wanted to make sure they get here to vote. One of them is serving in the National Guard, and some work different schedules this week and might not get here Tuesday,” Shelton said.

The Rev. John McCants, pastor of Grace AME Church in Warren, said they were aware of the ”Souls to Polls” movement to transport people after church to the polls and also on Election Day for anyone who may need a ride to vote.

”We have been doing this for the last couple of elections. We had a meal at our church and then drove people in the church van to the polls,” he said of the three hours of transporting people.

Those needing rides can call the church at 330-394-6270.

Karl Thomas of Cortland said his work schedule this week would make it difficult for him to have to wait in long lines on Election Day

Lottie Shackelford, chairwoman for the Women’s Caucus National Democratic Committee, said she has seen a lot of excitement this election.

”I am so impressed. This says a lot for people to see the need to come and vote early. It shows that people are truly interested in this election,” Shackelford said.