Lines of 150 People and 90 Minute Waits in Akron, Ohio

Long lines for early voting in Akron, Ohio yesterday. Paul Tople/MCT/

At 6:40 this morning, when the Joy Park Community Center in Akron, Ohio, opened up to voters, as many as 150 people were already in line. Two observers told Mother Jones that the polling place opened 10 minutes late due to troubles with one of its optical scanners, which tallies votes.

The community center also had trouble with an audio device meant to assist hearing-impaired voters, according to Daniel Greenfield, an election observer volunteering for the Obama campaign. The machines were back up and running two to three hours later, he said. It’s unclear whether the troubles were caused by malfunctions or by poll workers not knowing how to operate the machines.

Either way, the hiccups didn’t help ease the frustrations of the voters facing waits of 60 to 90 minutes. An election observer who asked not to be identified told us that voters had complained about poll workers being disorganized and having disagreements “within earshot of people trying to concentrate on their ballots.”

The Joy Park Community Center is one of several polling stations in the Akron area that has experienced delays and voting-machine problems today. “We did have difficulty setting them up this morning throughout the county,” conceded Joseph P. Masich, director of the Board of Elections in Summit County, where Akron is located. Masich declined to address the machine malfunctions at Joy Park.

“The Board of Supervisors just didn’t allocate enough” poll workers, says an Obama poll watcher. “That may even be intentional.”

Greenfield said the delays were mainly due to a shortage of poll workers, not mechanical problems. Joy Park had three poll workers on site, handling anywhere between 25 to 150 voters in line. “What really is slowing things down is understaffed poll workers,” Greenfield said. “The Board of Supervisors just didn’t allocate enough. That may even be intentional.”

Some evidence suggests that long Election Day waits are more common in areas with large black populations—such as Akron, whose population was 32 percent in 2010. One MIT/CalTech survey found that blacks waited an average of 27 minutes to vote in 2008, more than twice as long as any other racial group.

Charles Stewart III, a MIT professor who coauthored the report, says the lines have less to do with race than with the difficulty of anticipating where long lines will form, and allocating staff and resources accordingly.

At the same time, Stewart acknowledges that black voters are more likely to vote in person than absentee, and are more likely than whites to vote early. This might help explain the large early turnout at Joy Park. “Once the line forms, the election official is often too hamstrung to do anything about it,” Stewart said.


The more we thought about how MoJo's journalism can have the most impact heading into the 2020 election, the more we realized that so many of today's stories come down to corruption: democracy and the rule of law being undermined by the wealthy and powerful for their own gain.

So we're launching a new Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption. We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We'll publish what we find as a major series in the summer of 2020, including a special issue of our magazine, a dedicated online portal, and video and podcast series so it doesn't get lost in the daily deluge of breaking news.

It's unlike anything we've done before and we've got seed funding to get started, but we're asking readers to help crowdfund this new beat with an additional $500,000 so we can go even bigger. You can read why we're taking this approach and what we want to accomplish in "Corruption Isn't Just Another Scandal. It's the Rot Beneath All of Them," and if you like how it sounds, please help fund it with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.