Nicole Shamblin said she noticed a little commotion Tuesday when she walked into the Boston Heights village hall to vote.
People were staring at the green T-shirt she was wearing printed with the words “Nordonia Strong.”
“A poll worker looked at me and said ‘you can’t come in here,’ ” Shamblin said Tuesday.
When Shamblin asked why, the worker told her “politicking.”
The poll worker wrongly assumed the T-shirt was part of the Nordonia campaign to support a levy. It wasn’t.
Neither was a pink, tie-dyed Nordonia shirt another voter in the precinct was wearing. She, too, was told to leave.
By lunchtime Tuesday, Nordonia Superintendent Joe Clark said he knew about the women in the T-shirts and a third incident in another precinct where a poll worker asked a voter if he knew how much Issue 3, the district’s operating levy, was going to cost.
Issue 3, a 6.98-mill operating levy, would generate an estimated $7 million for the schools. It would cost the owner of a $200,000 home about $480 per year.
All three voters who ran into problems were ultimately able to cast ballots.
Clark, who frequently uses Twitter to communicate, tagged the Summit County Board of Elections and Secretary of State Frank LaRose in a Tweet, detailing what happened to the voters online.
LaRose's office reached out to Clark on Tuesday afternoon.
"Poll workers have certain requirements in place, and we have made sure the Summit County Board of Elections is reinforcing those expectations," said Maggie Sheehan, a spokeswoman for LaRose.
Did you hear,@FrankLaRose?@SummitCountyBOE poll workers trying to deny citizens the right to vote because of their apparel, and another asking a voter if she knew how much the school levy was going to cost her. This is appalling!— Joe Clark (@DrJoeClark)May 7, 2019
Clark said people from LaRose's office told him there was nothing that could be done if some voters were wrongfully turned away.
If Issue 3 fails, they told him Nordonia Hills school officials could file a complaint with the prosecuctor's office, Clark said.
The Summit County Board of Elections on Tuesday sent troubleshooting teams to both precincts Clark mentioned, said Bill Rich, chairman of the elections board.
The incident involving the T-shirts, he said, could have been confusion.
Poll workers are instructed to prevent electioneering inside or within 100 feet of a polling place. If someone shows up in a campaign shirt, workers should ask the person to remove the shirt or cover up its message.
That happens fairly frequently, Rich said. But in the Nordonia Hills case, the T-shirts represented the school, not the levy, so poll workers shouldn't have challenged the women wearing them.
"This could have been a good faith error," he said.
The second Nordonia Hills voting incident — in which a poll worker purportedly asked a voter if he knew how much voting for the levy would cost him — is uncommon and a more troublesome problem, he said.
The poll worker "should have known better. They're trained," Rich said. "You don't discuss the election itself [with voters or with other poll workers]."
Rich said the voter from the second incident complained to the board of elections, and the troubleshooting team was dispatched to the precinct soon after. No one contacted the board regarding the T-shirt incident.
That delayed the troubleshooting team until about 4 p.m., after a Beacon Journal reporter spoke with Rich.
Rich urged Summit County voters to take immediate action if ever they have a question or complaint at the polls. The simplest way is to ask your precinct officials to call the board of elections. Rich said precinct officials have a sort of hotline to elections staff.
If precinct officials balk, he said, call the board of elections yourself: 330-643-5200.
Amanda Garrett can be reached at 330-996-3725 or firstname.lastname@example.org.