NORTH COLLEGE HILL, OH (FOX19) - Voters began reporting problems with electronic sign-ins at some Hamilton County precincts shortly after doors opened Tuesday morning.
Ten precincts out of 556 had to revert to paper poll books. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted blamed the problem on insufficiently trained poll workers,not technology troubles.
Poll workers struggled to work new equipment that electronically checks voters in at precincts across the county, from Anderson Township and North College Hill to Norwood, Evanston and Delhi Township.
At one Delhi Township precinct, one voter complained election supervisors even didn't show up, leaving workers there trying to figure it out alone.
Cincinnati City Councilwoman Yvette Simpson took to social media to vent, tweeting that citizens had to vote via provisional ballots.
This is the first general election the new equipment has been used. It debuted during the August primary.
Husted said as far as he's aware Hamilton County is the only county in the state reporting problems.
All that's required of workers is three hours of training, he said, adding that he was disappointed to to hear of the issue but that is why the new system was rolled out in an off-election year.
That was little consolation to North College Hill resident Matthew Wahlert. He said unprepared workers prevented him from casting a ballot at St. Margaret Mary Church on Galbraith Road. He was there when polls opened at 6:30 a.m., but he said he had to leave after 15 minutes to get to his job teaching government at St. Henry District High School in Erlanger.
He said he was floored workers weren't better prepared.
"It's not like this came as a surprise," he said. "They didn't even have passwords to work the machines. When I left, there were 20-25 people waiting and a lot of those folks were early morning voters like me who have to vote before we go to work or they aren't going to be able to."
On top of it, he said, workers were short-tempered.
"It wouldn't be so bad if it wouldn't be for the rudeness," he said. "It is uncalled for."
Alex Triantafilou, a member of the Hamilton County Board of Elections, and Sherry Poland, director of the board of elections, acknowledged problems associated with the new equipment. The devices presented a natural learning curve for workers.
"We are encountering intermittent problems and we have troubleshooters going around the county doing all they can to fix the issues to be expected with the new equipment and new procedures," Triantafilou said early Tuesday.
Workers are supposed to be able to scan the bar codes on voters' driver's licenses to automatically pull up their registration information in the machine. If voters use another form of identification, their names can simply be put into the machines to pull up their data.
Each precinct, Poland stressed, has paper documents that can be used to verify and register voters if they are unable to work the new equipment.
"No voters will be turned away," Poland said. "The busiest time is during the morning, the first hour or two after polls open," she said.
Election board officials advise voters to be patient.
"Whenever we implement something new, there is a learning curve with that and be patient," she said. "In the long run, this is great technology that will assist voters in the future."
Some precincts had smoother results with the new technology.
No problems were reported as of 9 a.m. at the precinct in St. Bernard, where Husted met with poll workers.