Issue 1 drives Butler County to break record for early voting turnout for special election

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Butler County Board of Elections officials report voters are turning out in droves to make their voices heard on the sole issue of changing the state’s constitution during early voting for the August special election.

BOE Director Nicole Unzicker told the Journal-News as of Thursday afternoon voters have cast 4,558 ballots since early voting began July 11. During the special statewide election last August 3,850 votes were cast during the entire early voting period.

“We have had a steady flow of voters during the first week of early voting,” she said. “Looking back at August 2022, during this first week we have surpassed the total amount of early voting for that whole election.”

So far 4,136 people had voted in person and 422 returned absentee ballots. The BOE has mailed out 3,403 absentee ballots.

A year ago 2,056 people voted in-person during the early voting period and 1,794 absentee ballots were cast.

The only question on the ballot asks voters whether the state constitution should be changed, making it harder to make such amendments in the future.

The proposed change would require approval from 60% of voters and that citizen-initiated petitions receive signatures equal to 5% of the voters in the most recent gubernatorial election in all 88 Ohio counties, in order to get on the ballot.

August elections are rare but last year there was another statewide summer election to deal with statehouse redistricting. The statehouse primaries were supposed to be in May 2022 but the Ohio Redistricting Commission failed to create maps that the Ohio Supreme Court found constitutional. A federal court ordered the August vote.

Deputy Director Eric Corbin said it is difficult to compare election turnout in special elections, but this is pretty valid since both were statewide as opposed to just local issues.

The state is paying for the election, the BOE has been allocated $422,487 to pay for poll workers and associated costs. The reimbursement last year was roughly $357,000.

Hamilton County is also seeing high voter turnout ahead of the Aug. 8 election day. As of July 19, there have been 11,280 early votes cast there, including in-person and mail-in absentee votes. That’s compared to 8,659 this time last year.

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