Kenton County officials probing long lines, huge waits on Election Day
Voters said it was ‘not a good look,’ ‘an absolute mess’ and just ‘HORRIBLE.’
CINCINNATI (WXIX) - Reports of long lines and hours-long waits on election day have drawn a response from officials in Kenton County.
Some voters reported waiting more than two hours, with serpentine queues issuing through hallways and snaking across parking lots.
Kenton County Clerk Gabrielle Summe issued a terse statement Thursday acknowledging the issue and promising to look into it.
“The Kenton County Board of Elections understands everyone’s frustrations with the lines on Election Day,” Summe said. “As a board, we will be reviewing and analyzing all the feedback provided by voters, city officials etc...”
She added: “We will be discussing next year’s election sooner rather than later.”
There were 23 polling in Kenton County in 2022, according to the Kentucky Secretary of State’s Office. But some voters who reported long lines cited consolidated polling locations as the reason. Others said it was because voters were allowed to vote out of their assigned precinct.
It is true Kentucky voters could vote anywhere in the county on election day, according to the Kenton County Board of Elections. Voters had an assigned polling location where their pre-printed ballots were available, but an “express vote ballot marker” gave voters the ability to go to any election-day polling location so long as they could verify they live in Kenton County and are registered.
Consolidation also appears to be an issue. A City of Covington spokesperson said prior to the election the number of voting locations in the city had been “drastically reduced from previous years, and where you vote has almost certainly changed, no matter how many decades you voted there.”
The Kenton County Clerk’s website acknowledged some polling locations had changed and ascribed the changes to redistricting.
Whether voting flexibility or the consolidation of polling locations factored into the long lines remains unclear. What is clear, according to many voters, is that the wait times were unacceptably long.
‘Not a good look’
FOX19 put out a question on our Facebook page Tuesday evening before Kentucky’s polls closed asking whether readers were experiencing long lines. It drew nearly 1,000 responses, many saying they had to wait more than an hour at their polling locations.
Erlanger was a particular focus. Andrea Beil said she waited three hours at the polling location there.
“Erlanger was an absolute mess,” said Tricia Allen. “Two hours to vote. [...]This was not well thought out and they didn’t have enough voting areas to accommodate so many people.”
Tricia Allen also voted in Erlanger and saw a two-hour wait. “I’ve never waited that long to vote in Erlanger!”
“Erlanger was packed. 100 deep when I started in line. 100 deep when I finished my ballot. Not a good look,” said Clorisa Miller.
Don Klaas said he waited two-and-a-half hours in Villa Hills. Brandy DuChemin said the line started at her Fort Mitchell location at 6 a.m. and it just kept growing throughout the day. It was an hour-and-a-half wait in Lakeside Park, according to Mike McGee.
“Villa Hills had a 90 minute wait this afternoon around noon. They were sending people away at the door to vote at another Kenton County location,” said Krystnyna Cobb.
“In line for [two] hours so far, and maybe 45 minutes before we get to vote,” said Amy Mcclure Neil at St. Barbara Church.
Valerie Beatrice also said she waited just under three hours at St. Barbara Church.
“We were told that because they combined a few precincts into one place, instead of us being in different places as before, is reason it was taking so long,” Beatrice said. “We had at least 3 different precincts, (that I know of), voting in one precinct’s spot. Other spots were under construction, not available for polls..... HORRIBLE. One lady fainted/had malaise while in line, had to be taken to her car....”
‘Happy to be there’
Not everyone was upset about the lines. Tricia Allen said later of her Erlanger polling location, “That was the best thing about that. I loved seeing so many people out voting!”
Said Chris Brison, “Long lines are a good thing! Wish we had them at every election.”
Gary Bryant claimed to have waited 45 minutes in Independence. “Loved every minute standing in line,” he said. “Glad to see people doing their civic duty regardless [of their] party affiliation.”
“Finally the people are voicing their opinion where it matters! Way to go!” said Michelle Scott.
“At the door in Fort Wright waited an hour but happy to be there,” said Matthew Klare.
“Was awesome to see so many out and voting for midterms,” said Sharon Bolser Moles.
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