COLUMBUS, Ohio – Voters turned back four ballot proposals Tuesday to change Ohio election law, while a once-rejected high-tech research financing was comfortably ahead.
Issue 1 had 55 percent of the vote with 34 percent of the precincts reporting, according to unofficial returns compiled by The Associated Press. Backers combined the $500 million high-tech issue with a popular $1.5 billion highway maintenance bond issue after it lost two years ago.
The long statewide ballot issues confused some voters Tuesday in an off-year election with light turnout and few glitches from the use of new voting machines in about half of Ohio's 88 counties.
"I didn't understand a lot of them," said Cleveland voter Theo Bell, who skipped over the state questions. "I didn't want to put something down, not understand and vote for the wrong thing."
The five issues were the most on a statewide ballot since 1992. Mayoral races were on the ballots in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo and Dayton.
The election proposals — all constitutional amendments — would have opened absentee balloting to all voters, lowered the limit on individual campaign contributions, put a board in charge of drawing congressional and legislative districts instead of elected officials and switched election supervision from the secretary of state to another board.
The transition to new voting machines, mostly touch screens, went smoothly in most of the 44 counties that have them, election officials said. A handful of people left without voting because machines weren't running when polls opened in some precincts. A few polling places opened late.
At six precincts in Toledo, poll workers misplaced cards that the worker must insert to authorize the machine to turn on, said Carlo LoParo, spokesman for Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell. A handful of voters said they couldn't wait.
Paper ballots were being used within 10 minutes, and elections officials made new cards that were sent to the polling places by about an hour after polls opened, LoParo said.
In the Cincinnati suburb of Harrison, a chemical leaking from tanks in a car disrupted voting Tuesday morning at two precincts, said Hamilton County Board of Elections Chairman Tim Burke.
Elections officials said the precincts reopened after hazardous-materials crews removed the anhydrous ammonia, which can cause severe burning to the skin, eyes and respiratory system, but traffic to the polling place was disrupted for several hours. No injuries were reported.
Voter turnout was light at most polling places, which is typical of off-year elections and prevented the long lines that formed during last year's presidential election, when Ohio gave President Bush the electoral votes he needed for re-election.
Bill Damsel, 74, a retired high school teacher who doesn't consider himself part of either political party, said he prepared ahead of time and voted for all of the election-related issues, although he's skeptical about how well they will work.
"Given the current circumstances, the way things are, it's worth a try," he said after voting in the Columbus suburb of Worthington.