Polling places in Trump country see steady stream of voters on election day

Ms Barbara Lustik, Jr, 48, a polling location coordinator at Brecksville Community Centre in Ohio. PHOTO: PAUL ZACH
Voters at Brecksville Community Centre in Ohio, a crucial swing state in the US presidential election. PHOTO: PAUL ZACH

BRECKSVILLE - A line of people had already stretched from the the ballot boxes to the gymnasium at the Brecksville Community Centre shortly after Ms Barbara Lustik, Jr, 48, opened the doors promptly at 6.30am on Tuesday when voting began in Ohio, one of the most important battleground states in the presidential election.

"I would say that our line was definitely longer than usual," said the polling location coordinator (PLC), who has been working at polling stations for 16 years, 10 of them as a PLC.

Many people had voted early or by absentee ballot, but lots had also come in to work out in the gym when it opened at 5.30am and then lined up to vote afterwards.

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Ms Lustig, who also works at the community centre pool as a lifeguard, said: "Everything has run smoothly so far."

Mr Luke Halliwell, 37, a physical therapist who lives in Brecksville, was carrying one of his three young daughters as he left the community centre. He said he had voted earlier at his own polling place for Republican candidate Donald Trump.

"There are many reasons. Number one is the Supreme Court," he said. The next US president is expected to fill a vacant seat in the court during his or her term, and Republicans and Conservatives fear that a win by Mrs Hillary Clinton would tip its balance in a more liberal direction.

"The vote we make today will affect us for 30 or 40 years," Mr Halliwell added. Supreme Court justices traditionally serve for a life-time once selected, only retiring if they become too old and incapacitated to continue.

"I don't want higher taxes. Just less government," Mr Halliwell added, noting that he preferred that more control be put in the hands of the states, and thus closer to their people, rather than in the federal government.

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Earlier this campaign season, former New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani, one of Mr Trump's most vocal surrogates and reportedly a prime candidate for his cabinet if he wins, put in an appearance at the Brecksville Community Centre to talk to residents in this heavily-Republican suburb of heavily-Democratic Cleveland, Ohio.

Other polling places in Cuyahoga County, which encompasses the Greater Cleveland area and its suburbs, also saw lines early as people tried to cast their votes before heading to work, as election officials reported that early voting was down from four years ago. Polling day in the United States is not a public holiday, but work places are required to allow employees to take reasonable time out to vote.

About 50 people were waiting outside the Gunning Recreation Centre on Cleveland's west side before the doors opened.

Concerns had been raised about possible harassment of voters by one side or the other. Local NBC television affiliate WKYC reported that Cuyahoga County election officials had received an email supposedly from a supporter of Republican candidate Mr Donald Trump, claiming that there would be 240 poll "watchdogs" closely monitoring voters in the county. The TV station urged people who felt unsafe or hassled to contact poll watchers or to report the problem to the station at "#verifyvotes".

Cities in the county have reportedly told their sheriff's deputies and police to pay closer attention to polling places today. One Brecksville police car was parked at the Cuyahoga Valley Careers Centre as people voted around 8am, but all was peaceful.

Businesses also were getting in on the election day action. Krispy Kreme's branch in Middleburg Heights was offering customers a free donut if they showed their "I'm voting" Ohio stickers; 7-Eleven was giving free cups of coffee to those who downloaded their apps; and the Bob Evans restaurant chain's many outlets were giving 30 per cent off the bills of customers who voted.

Cleveland's iconic Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum was also offering discounts on entry today, and Gold's Gym gave free entry to people to work out, even as the presidential candidates themselves were sweating out the results.

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