Butler County voting: Democrats see highest numbers since ’06, Republicans say they will come ‘out in force’

HAMILTON ― Butler County Democrats are cheering an early election victory of sorts.

Early voting started Tuesday with long lines of county residents waiting to cast some of the first votes in the Nov. 3 general election.

On Monday, the day before early voting started, Butler County Democrats had more mail-in ballot requests in than Republicans for the first time since no-fault absentee voting was permitted in Ohio in 2006. The registered Republicans outnumber registered Democrats by a near-2-to-1 margin, a difference that has been cut in half in recent years.

Butler County Democratic Party Executive Chairman Brian Hester said the request level by Democrats “is even more impressive" when comparing vote-by-mail requests ahead of early voting with the total number of vote-by-mail requests received in the last three presidential elections.

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"The data demonstrates that Butler County is not immune to Democratic dominance in early voting in Ohio so far,” he said.

Nearly 53,000 requests for a vote-by-mail absentee ballot were made by county voters as of Monday, and 11,287 of those requests were from Democrats. GOP voters requested 10,716 mail-in ballots, and the rest came from voters who are not registered as a member of a party or are third party.

Democrats' requests as of Monday is also more than triple the total number of the mail-in voting quests through the 2016 early voting period. Heading into early voting, Republicans have requested 500 fewer ballots as of Monday than their total number of mailed-in ballots in 2016.

As of 2 p.m. on Tuesday, voters were nearly evenly split between Democrat (31.9 percent), Republican (32.9 percent) and unaffiliated (35.2 percent) voters.

Butler County GOP Executive Chairman Todd Hall isn’t worried about any lead in ballot requests by the Democrats. He said Republicans will be “out in full force” for early voting both at the Butler County Board of Election at 1802 Princeton Road and through vote-by-mail.

He also said party members will “show up” at the polls on Election Day, Nov. 3.

Most of the county’s registered voters are unaffiliated, a group that makes up roughly three-fourths of the 252,440 registered voters. Hall said those unaffiliated voters have "strongly and consistently leaned conservative.”

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Democratic Party officials know former Vice President has a very slim chance of winning Butler County, a county that has leaned conservative since the 1970s, but they believe he can earn close to 40 percent of the vote. A narrower margin of victory in Butler County will lessen the need for Democratic counties to have larger margins of victory for Biden.

“By several measures, the turnout in Ohio so far looks to be 2008 on steroids," said Hester.

Butler County officials did not have a projection as to voter turnout, but the first day of early voting this election was outpacing early voting on the first day of early voting in 2016. In the first six hours of early voting this year, 1,438 voters cast a ballot compared to 812 in 2016.

What kind of turnout is unknown at this point, according to Butler County officials. Turnout in the 2016 and 2012 presidential elections was slightly better than 71 percent and the 2008 election saw 67.2 percent voters turn out top the polls.

“Early voting is going very smoothly,” said Butler County Board of Elections Director Diane Noonan. “We had lines but they are moving very efficiently.”

HOW TO VOTE EARLY

There are several times to vote ahead of Election Day on Nov. 3. Below are the early voting hours at every county board of elections in Ohio. The Butler County Board of Elections is at 1802 Princeton Road, Hamilton:

  • Now through Oct. 9, Oct. 12-16: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Oct. 19-23: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Oct. 24: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Oct. 25: 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Oct. 26-30: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Oct. 31: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Nov. 1: 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Nov. 2: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Request an absentee ballot by downloading the form from the Ohio Secretary of State at VoteOhio.gov. The last day to request a ballot is by noon on Oct. 31, though state and county election officials recommend submitting it by Oct. 27. All mailed-in ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 2, or hand-delivered to the board of elections by 7:30 p.m. on Election Day.

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