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Hamilton County voter says a poll worker told him to fill in his ballot

New notice causes confusion at Hamilton Co. polls
Posted at 8:09 AM, Nov 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-06 15:13:17-05

CINCINNATI -- A man voting in Westwood Tuesday morning said a poll worker told him to completely fill in his ballot even though he didn't want to cast a vote for certain candidates.

When Jim Riga tried to submit his ballot at his polling location at Westwood Elementary School, he said the system didn’t take his ballot because it was incomplete.

"Somebody in there said, ‘Well you've got to vote, you've gotta fill it all in because that's when the machine is telling you,’” Riga said. “Well the machine shouldn't tell me I gotta vote or we won't take your vote … so it kept rejecting me, my voting, until I went in and colored in judges. I just picked ‘em."

But the system wasn’t rejecting Riga’s ballot. Hamilton County scanners were programed this year to alert voters who did not vote for all the candidates or contests, according to Director of Elections Sherry Poland.

"Voters can vote their ballot however they chose," Poland said. "We're just simply providing notice to the voter."

Some poll workers were confused because they usually have a notification for over voting, but not for under voting, according to Poland. The board of elections sent out a notice notifying poll workers what to do.

Brandon Maxwell tweeted WCPO and said he experienced a similar issue.

“Long line at the Delhi Community center because it was rejecting people’s ballots and the poll workers made everyone fill in a bubble for every race,” Maxwell said in a tweet.

Poland said officials would investigate these claims.

"That is not the appropriate response from a poll worker, so we will look into that,” Poland said.

The message allows voters to put their ballot through or go back and fill out their ballot if they made a mistake.

"If the voter does not wish to vote for all candidates or contests on the ballot, the voter may cast their ballot 'as is' by pressing the Cast Ballot button," Hamilton County Board of Elections officials said in a statement.

Poland said officials put a message out to poll workers so they can reassure voters that machines are working properly.

“There’s not any problems with how the scanners are counting or anything like that,” Poland said.