First-day early voting in Butler County nearly triples previous record. What about the next 4 weeks?

Voters line up at the Butler County Board of Elections on the first day of early voting Tuesday, October 6, 2020 in Hamilton. More than 2,200 people voted on the first day of early voting, a record in Butler County. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

HAMILTON ― Tuesday was a historic early voting day in Butler County.

More than 2,200 Butler County residents cast an absentee ballot on the first day of early voting, and Board of Elections Deputy Director Eric Corbin said that type of volume has been more common on the last weekend of early voting.

“I thought 2012 was the year (for high turnout) and ’16 was crazier than that. And 2020 seems to make 2016 look easy,” Corbin said.

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About 15 elections employees were assigned to work early voting Tuesday, and Corbin said there are plans to add more for the rest of the four-week advanced voting period.

“We’re going to have the same capacity for voters no matter what time they come," he said.

Corbin said Tuesday’s socially distanced lines were long, stretching beyond the outdoor length of the building, but they moved quickly.

Early voting is expected to be a popular choice amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. The 2,204 voters nearly tripled the previous first-day record in 2016 when 810 voters showed up at the elections office. Also, nearly 53,000 absentee ballots were mailed to county voters on Tuesday.

Election officials aren’t forecasting a possible turnout for the Nov. 3 election because it’s difficult to predict given the restrictions around the COVID-19 virus and some people’s lack of trust with the postal service. Because of the expected demand, a second dropbox was added for hand-delivered ballots.

“One of the issues that’s going to make it hard to (predict a voter turnout) is if a voter requests an absentee ballot be mailed to them and they want to vote in-person,” said Corbin. “That’s fine, they can do that, but there’s going to be a percentage of those people who are coming to vote in person.”

Voter turnout in 2012 and 2016 was more than 71 percent, and in 2008 it was 67.2 percent.

Voters that requested a mailed ballot but then decide to vote in-person can do so, but those mailed ballots will be canceled to prevent an accidental double vote, officials said.

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Predicting what will happen during the final week of early voting will be just as difficult as predicting a voter turnout.

Corbin said voter participation could drop off during the second and third weeks of early voting and pick up in that final weekend because, just as with taxes, voting is something that "people like to wait to do at the last minute.”

He wouldn’t be surprised if 3,000 people voted, or more, will vote on each of the final two weekend days of early voting.

The Ohio Secretary of State’s Office mailed 7.8 million absentee ballot request forms last month. Those forms are also accessible to download at VoteOhio.gov. The last day to request a ballot to be mailed is by noon on Oct. 31, though state and county election officials recommend requesting 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. Absentee ballots will not be accepted at polling locations.

EARLY VOTING IN BUTLER COUNTY

The first day of early voting in Butler County saw a record day. Here’s how the first day of early voting on Tuesday compared to the first day in 2016:

2016: 810 total votes (315 Republicans and 307 Democrats)

2020: 2,204 total votes (775 Republicans and 692 Democrats)

Source: Butler County Board of Elections

FIRST-DAY EARLY VOTING

Here are the totals for first-day early voting in recent presidential general election years:

2020: 2,204

2016: 810

2012: 542

Source: Butler County Board of Elections

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.

Source: Ohio Secretary of State

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