“Even if he has a strong performance in the upcoming third debate, thousands of Ohioans will have already cast their votes by that time — and in a close race, which Ohio might end up being, those early votes might very well make the difference in who gets Ohio’s Electoral College vote this year,” he said.
Smith said Clinton does not have to win Ohio to win the presidency, but Trump does.
“Previous indications were that Democrats had ceded the state to Trump, but recent polling indicates things are shifting toward Mrs. Clinton,” he said. “It could be we will see Ohio become ground zero again.”
Boards of Election will begin extended hours on Wednesday to accommodate early voters.
“My hunch tells me (early voting turnout) will be high because the interest in this campaign has been quite high,” Smith said. “At the same time, there’s a prevailing belief these (presidential) candidates are deeply flawed. The recent debates and revelations will only exacerbate these thoughts, I believe. That may blunt some of the turnout.”
Though it’s too early to predict turnout with any certainty, Forren said he’d expect high early voter turnout “both because of the relative ease of early voting and absentee voting and because of the deep polarization that we are seeing within the electorate.”
“Lots of people this year may end up voting not because of enthusiasm for the presidential candidates but rather because of their distaste for those candidates — but even if it’s just to vote against someone, we should expect lots of people to show up and participate this time around.”
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted sent 1.6 million reminder cards to Ohioans who are eligible to vote but not registered.
“We’re certainly doing everything we can to try to make sure that people have the information they need and they’re engaged and ready to participate,” said Josh Eck, press secretary for Husted.
On Labor Day Husted’s office sent out absentee ballot applications to all registered voters and he will send a second round of ballot applications to those who registered after Labor Day, Eck said.
Voter registration forms are available at MyOhioVote.com. You can also get them at your county board of elections office.
Voters who need to update their address also have until Tuesday and can use the make address changes at MyOhioVote.com or at their board office.
This is also the last chance for people who have not voted in an election in several years to make sure they are still registered. Voters can check to make sure they are registered, track absentee ballots, find polling locations and view sample ballot's at the Voter Toolkit on the secretary of state's website.
Ohio allowed military and overseas voters to began casting absentee ballots on Sept. 24 but the rest of the state’s voters start on Wednesday. Officials at area boards of election said they like the growing popularity of early in-person and by-mail absentee voting because it cuts down on the lines at the polls on Election Day and makes things more convenient for voters.
Those who wish to vote in person at the board of elections office — 1802 Princeton Road in Hamilton in Butler County and 520 Justice Drive in Lebanon in Warren County — can do so as set times from now until Nov. 7, the day before the general election.
Early voting hours can be found at ButlerCountyElections.org or WarrenCountyBOE.us.
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WHAT PROTECTS YOUR VOTE IN OHIO?
- Multiple layers of protection are in place to make sure that your vote will count.
- Voting machines and the equipment that tabulates the votes are never connected to the Internet.
- Vote results reported online are not the final official results so any online disruption on Election Night would not change the actual results.
- Official voter registration records are stored at county boards so any tampering with the statewide online registration list will not officially remove anyone's name.
- On Election Day the number of ballots cast at each polling place is reconciled with the number of voters who sign in to vote so people can't vote more than once.
- Two person teams made up of one Republican and one Democrat do every job at all 88 boards of election in Ohio.
- You are in control of your vote when you verify your votes before casting your ballot.
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WHEN CAN YOU VOTE EARLY?
You can start voting early on Oct. 12 at your county board of elections. Here are the early voting hours statewide:
- Oct. 12-14: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Oct. 17-21: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Oct. 24-28: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Oct. 29: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Oct. 30: 1 to 5 p.m.
- Oct. 31 through Nov. 4: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- Nov. 5: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Nov. 6: 1 to 5 p.m.
- Nov. 7: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.