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Heavy Election Turnout Brings Lines, Ballot Shortage

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(Photo: Eliot Lerner, WWJ) Lines were long to vote at Groves High School in Birmingham.

(Photo: Eliot Lerner, WWJ) Lines were long to vote at Groves High School in Birmingham.

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CLINTON TWP. (CBS DETROIT) Voters across metro Detroit are reporting long lines at polling locations — so much so that four hours into the voting process Clinton Township was frantically switching out ballots.

Township Clerk George Fitzgerald, a Democrat up for election, said unexpectedly high turnout had him sending out a runner to collect extra absentee ballots to use instead of traditional ballots — when those dwindled away.

“State legislature changed around how school elections will be held, within a single voting precinct you may have two or more school districts, we ordered 100 percent ballots per precinct, we did that, and there were a lot of ABs (absentee ballots) out of that, we thought we had enough supply,” Fitzgerald said. “All we’ve done is coded the absentee ballots as the same as the non-AB.”

He added: “Everyone will get the chance to vote.”

Voters are reporting they’re waiting in line for hours in some cases to cast ballots in the race that was deadlocked at the last-minute between Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

Voters waited an hour-and-a-half at Christ Church in Redford Township to get to the booth — and then the computers went down. A supervisor said he had to leave and plans to return.

A caller said the wait was more than two hours at the Coleman A Young Recreation Center on Detroit’s east side, where there were only three poll workers. She said it was “totally ridiculous.”

Another WWJ caller said the poll location on Puritan, one block west of Meyers, has a line stretching down the street. “They’re voting the heck out of it,” the caller said.

Former Detroit News columnist Pete Waldmier wrote on Facebook he had just voted at Ferry School in Grosse Pointe Woods, it was the biggest crowd he’s seen in 32 years. Across the metro border in Oakland County, the Oakland County Clerk’s Office reported morning turnout is “right on track with the 2008 record turnout.”

Fitzgerald said his 400 poll workers were trying to keep lines moving, but with six Michigan ballot proposals along with all the other state and national races — voting isn’t necessarily a quick process this time around.

“The line was looped around, there’s a lot of wording on the ballot, that’s slowing them down a lot, even if they’re moving through really quick, you’re probably looking a 5 to 7 minutes per (voter),” he said.

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