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Miami Valley Voters, Poll Workers Begin Election Day Before Sunrise

Voters in Yellow Springs lined up before sunrise to cast their ballots in the 2020 election.
Chris Welter
Voters in Yellow Springs lined up before sunrise to cast their ballots in the 2020 election.

Local Boards of Elections are working to keep polling locations running smoothly as voters cast their ballots today.

Jan Kelly, Director of the Montgomery County Board of Elections says that tensions among voters are especially high this election season.

"I hope everybody stays calm and behaves themselves in line at the polling locations, and we are gentle and kind with each other and be civil and pull this election off in a good manner during what has been an awful year for many, many people,” says Kelly.

Despite long lines, things got off to a great start at the Greene County Fairgrounds polling location in Xenia this morning.

“I was worried that there were going to be a bunch of people who were unhappy and in a bad mood. But it seemed like everybody who came out here had a smile on their face and was totally happy to talk to me," says Ben Smith, a high school volunteer poll worker. He was the line helper at the fairgrounds this morning when lines were long.

"As soon as the sun came up, there was a beautiful sunrise and it was awesome. I’ve been here since it opened and I woke up at 4:30 this morning, it was a little rough but man it’s been a great day.”

The demographics of many poll workers have changed this year with younger people deciding to help out at the polls. They’ve been needed because traditional older volunteers are more likely to experience serious complications if they contract COVID-19.

Hasan Akinyele is one of those younger poll workers. He’s currently a student at Pace University in New York City. But, due to the pandemic, he’s doing his online classes in Xenia, his hometown.

“I still vote in Ohio. I had the option to vote in New York through my school but I chose to vote in Ohio [because it's a swing state],” Akinyele says.

Akinyele started working at 5:30 this morning at at the Greene County Fairgrounds polling location in Xenia. He says he plans to stay until at least 9:00 pm, or until the last voter has cast their ballot.

Polling locations across Ohio will remain open until 7:30 tonight for in-person voting and ballot drop-offs. Voters must in be line at their polling location by 7:30pm in order to call a ballot.

Environmental reporter Chris Welter is a corps member with , a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

Copyright 2021 WYSO. To see more, visit .

Chris Welter is an Environmental Reporter at WYSO through Report for America. In 2017, he completed the radio training program at WYSO's Eichelberger Center for Community Voices. Prior to joining the team at WYSO, he did boots-on-the-ground conservation work and policy research on land-use issues in southwest Ohio as a Miller Fellow with the Tecumseh Land Trust.