Beacon Journal staff writer
Early voting began this morning and was running smoothly at the Job Center, Summit County's much-debated, in-person early voting site.
A sprinkling of voters were inside the Job Center, 1040 E. Tallmadge Ave. in Akron, about 9:30 a.m. They reported waiting between 10 to 20 minutes.
''It was easy,'' said Miodrag Cukovich of Copley Township, who voted early with his wife, Hope. ''I expected a lot of people.''
The Job Center is expected to get busier this afternoon, with Gov. Ted Strickland and other Democratic candidates holding a rally at the University of Akron at 1:30 p.m. and offering bus rides to the center for early voters.
Strickland and other statewide Democratic candidates are hosting early voting kickoff events across the state today, which is the first day for early or absentee voting.
Summit County decided to offer early voting at the Job Center because of problems with long waits and a lack of parking at the board's Grant Street office in the 2008 primary. The board also had early voting at the Job Center in November 2008.
Republican members of the Summit elections board fought the use of the Job Center, pointing to concerns about security, especially with a heating, ventilating and air conditioning school and a construction crew using an adjacent part of the building.
Ron Koehler, the board's Republican deputy director, said most of these concerns have been addressed, through the extension of a tarp between the school and construction site, and the voting area, and a locked-door blocking off the construction area.
''We are comfortable with the level of security, with the locking door,'' he said.
The board put up cones, indicating an area in the Job Center's parking lot for voters, which was another concern Republican board members had raised.
Summit is among only five counties in Ohio with a different site for early voting for the November election. Most other counties, including Stark, Portage, Wayne and Medina, will have early voting at their elections board offices.
Summit Countians cannot vote early in person at the elections board's main office on Grant Street. They must go to the Job Center.
The Job Center will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday through Election Day.