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Morse Road Early Voting Site Means Longer Bus Rides For Many

This year early voting is in a new location. It's larger, has more free parking, it's away from downtown.   For many, the new Morse road early voting center is easier to get to. But for voters who rely on COTA buses to get around,  the new location is far from convenient. On the first day of early voting, Cardinal Vines-Anna Carter arrived at the Board of Elections on East Broad Street ready to cast a ballot. She soon learned she'll have to make other plans. "I didn't know it was up on Morse road, so that kind of puts me in a stickler in getting there right now." In past elections, Vines-Anna Carter could walk two blocks from her home near Franklin Park on the east side and take the Broad Street bus downtown. It was about a ten minute trip. Now, she's planning a longer trip. "Basically, I would catch the Broad Street bus to High Street and from High Street I would either catch, all the way up to High to High and Morse and crossover to like the 89. Q: The 89? The 89, so its a bit much, its a bit much." Says Vines-Anna Carter. Actually, Vines-Anna Carter would need to transfer to the crosstown 95 bus that travels between High Street and Hamilton  along Morse Road. COTA Vice president Marty Stutz says while COTA offers service to the Morse Road center, riders from the southwest and southeast portions of the county would have to make at least one transfer. "It is a little bit more difficult to get to the Northland area but again we do have good connections. It can be done."  Says COTA VP Marty Stutz The Franklin County Board of Elections voted unanimously on August 1st to move the early voting site to the Northland area. Spokesman Ben Piscatelli defends the site noting it is on a COTA bus line and it's near the geographic center of the county's population. "The actual center of population of Franklin County is not far from here at the fairgrounds. This center is, this site, is centrally located to 60 percent of our voting population. Its right off of I-71 on a major highway, Morse road between Karl and Tamarack, and it's on a major bus line."  Says Piscatelli. And Piscatelli says they have used paid advertisement and other methods to get the word out. "We're well aware that some people only vote in presidential elections and four years ago we were at the Veterans Memorial downtown. So if you drive by that now there's a big sign out front, in addition to everything else we've done telling people if you'd like to vote in-person absentee you have to do it here at 17-hundred Morse Road" Early voting numbers from the 2008 presidential election indicate strong interest in early voting in Franklin County when nearly half of all eligible voters cast early ballots. This year, because the early voting center is away from the hub of the city's bus system,  it will take more time to cast a ballot for the thousands of Franklin County residents, like Vines-Anna Carter who depend on public transportation. "I'm not familiar with this area but I'd have to call down to the COTA bus line to see if it goes exactly there" And if she can't get there she can still vote by mail.. or cast a ballot at her neighborhood precinct on election day.