Eight minutes, 45 seconds.
I timed it with a stopwatch — that’s how long it took for me to exit my car, duck into the Lorain County Board of Elections office, fill out the proper paperwork, cast my vote, and get back behind the wheel.
A steady stream flowed in and out mid-morning Wednesday as I visited the voting booths on Clinton Avenue (yes, that’s really the street name) in Sheffield Township.
Just inside the door, elections workers quickly moved the line forward and within 75 seconds I’d advanced from eighth to first to pick up my voting card. Down a hallway, I found 28 electronic voting stations.
Some observations: Of the two-dozen people punching buttons, I appeared to be the youngest by about a decade. No one seemed to have trouble voting, and none of the partisan anger so evident in recent months was on display. Instead, there was an air of relief in the room, a collective catharsis as ballots were filled out, a tangible air of, “It’s almost over.”
On my way out, I chatted with one nice woman — neither of us had expected the process to soar along with such brevity.
“This is how elections should be handled,” I thought as I walked back to my car. “Why do we prop up the importance of Election Day when we could be pushing a much-lower-key Election Month?”
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted this week said voters are starting to appreciate the open door of early voting.
His office received 1.2 million requests this year for absentee ballots and another 600,000 are expected to vote early in person. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign has speculated that about 40 percent of voters in battleground states such as Ohio will vote early.
That means shorter lines and lower stress levels, which I welcome with open arms.
Later in the day, I took part in a “Twitter town hall” in which Husted answered questions from voters, many worried their votes would be lost, discounted, or marginalized.
The secretary of state had advertised the event by asking, “Think the election is rigged?” His phrasing referenced allegations made over and over in recent months by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
“The election is absolutely being rigged by the dishonest and distorted media pushing Crooked Hillary — but also at many polling places — SAD,” Trump tweeted Oct. 16.
Among the many questions posed, Husted didn’t field mine: “Considering the implications for your office, do you still plan to vote for Trump after his claims the election is rigged?” Husted, who is a Republican, cannot formally endorse a candidate but recently told CNN he intends to “reluctantly” cast a vote for Trump.
“We have a number of safe guards in place & we will run a good, clean election like we always do,” he responded to another Twitter user who asked for assurance Ohio’s election isn’t compromised.
While the state’s top elections official has rebuffed claims of a rigged system, he’s faced wide criticism about purging voter rolls.
Such weeding is done to remove names of voters who have died or moved out of state, resulting last year in the removal of 11,666 people from the rolls in Lorain County alone. A Reuters study found voters in Democrat-leaning Ohio neighborhoods were about twice as likely to be purged for inactivity.
As a result of a suit against the state, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals deemed Husted’s methods as illegal under the National Voter Rights Act.
Husted tweeted Wednesday that his policies aim to make it “easy 2 vote/hard 2 cheat.”
In a postmortem of the 2014 general election, just 14 people were referred for investigation for allegedly illegally voting in both Ohio and another state, according to Husted’s office.
“The findings of this report demonstrate once again that voter fraud exists, it’s rare, and we are holding people accountable for their actions,” Husted said. “Voter fraud, no matter how rare, reduces the confidence in our system of elections, and it can’t be tolerated.”
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.