- Associated Press - Sunday, November 2, 2014

CLEVELAND (AP) - Ministers in Cleveland and throughout Ohio rallied their congregations to vote Sunday with a “souls to the polls” campaign among traditionally black churches two days before the election.

About 100 people waited in line at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections building when voting opened at 1 p.m. An hour later, a line snaked down a long hallway and outside the building but appeared to be moving briskly.

Election officials said the Sunday before Election Day on Tuesday was nothing like the presidential voting year of 2012, when people waited hours to cast a ballot.

Cleveland’s “souls to the polls” organizer, the Rev. Jimmy Gates, said before the polls opened that he’d been disappointed with early voting numbers. He said Cuyahoga County had been averaging about 100 people a day voting at the elections board since the early voting period began Oct. 7.

“It’s not about the candidate or who’s running for office,” Mr. Gates said. “It’s about getting people out to the polls to vote for their candidates or their issue of choice.”

Mary Hunter said she could have voted Tuesday, but instead chose to wait in line Sunday with members of her East Cleveland church.

Lang Dunbar accompanied a passenger van of elderly voters to the Board of Elections from Cleveland’s storied Antioch Baptist Church, which has long been a bulwark in the civil rights movement. The 78-year-old Mr. Dunbar thinks the black community has moved forward in some ways, but has regressed in others. Political activism, he said, has become stagnant.

“Young people are a little bit disenchanted because older people have not stepped up,” Mr. Dunbar said.

In Strongsville, one of the county’s few Republican strongholds, U.S. House Speaker John Boehner made an appearance Sunday in support of fellow Ohioan U.S. Rep Jim Renacci and to encourage a crowd of about 70 people to get their friends and neighbors to the polls.

Mr. Boehner, dressed in jeans, a pullover and tasseled loafers, took his expected shots at President Obama’s administration and the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate. He singled out the Affordable Care Act, an “out of control” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Mr. Obama’s foreign policy decisions.

“People are bewildered by what they see,” Mr. Boehner said.

Ed FitzGerald, the Democratic candidate for governor, made a brief appearance at Antioch Baptist Church during the afternoon. He said he had not seen The Columbus Dispatch Poll released Sunday that showed Republican Gov. John Kasich with a big lead.

The Dispatch Poll showed Mr. Kasich with 62 percent support to FitzGerald’s 34 percent. The poll indicated Republican Treasurer Josh Mandel was in a tight race against state Rep. Connie Pillich, Cincinnati Democrat, with Republicans leading in other statewide races. The mail poll of 1,009 likely voters from Oct. 22-31 had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

“You should run for office because things you believe in,”Mr. FitzGerald said. “That’s what keeps me motivated. It’s not about that poll or this poll.”

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