CLEVELAND -- A polling place that served two adjoining precincts counted hundreds of votes for fringe presidential candidates Nov. 2, apparently because poll workers didn't instruct voters to use only the machines for their precinct, a newspaper reported yesterday.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer's review of voting patterns in Cuyahoga County showed that many of the approximately 1,000 voters in the two precincts cast ballots just steps away at machines meant for the other precinct.
''There was no distinction between precincts," said Katie Daley, a Democratic observer who spent Election Day at the voting place, Benedictine High School. ''Voters were being told to go to any machine that was open."
The newspaper reported the problems arose because names were in different positions on the ballot in different precincts. A person's ballot would be misread if he or she voted in the wrong precinct and the card was then read on his or her home precinct's machine.
Voting procedures in Ohio have been under scrutiny because the closely fought state put President Bush over the top in November.
At the two precincts located at Benedictine, both heavily Democratic, Libertarian Michael Badnarik received 164 votes, almost half as many as Kerry, who got 334. In the adjacent precinct, Constitution Party candidate Michael Peroutka received 215 votes to Kerry's 299.