More than 1 million cast early ballots in Ohio

People wait in line to cast their early vote Wednesday at the Clark County Board of Elections. Bill Lackey/Staff
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People wait in line to cast their early vote Wednesday at the Clark County Board of Elections. Bill Lackey/Staff

Election Day may not be until Tuesday, but more than 1 million Ohioans have already cast ballots and there is a big push by both parties to lock in more early voters before the big day.

“In terms of ground game, that’s what this last week is about,” Xavier University political science professor Mack Mariani said.

As of Friday, more than 1.05 million voters had cast ballots in Ohio, according to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted.

Nationwide, about 23 million early votes have been cast, according to NBC News.

The NBC analysis of battleground state absentee voting found that Democratic-affiliated voters had cast more ballots than Republican-affiliated voters in Ohio, Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, Nevada, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Republican-affiliated voters have cast more ballots than Democrats in Arizona, Florida, Georgia and Pennsylvania, NBC found.

Husted did not break out voters statewide by party affiliation, a calculation that can only be determined in Ohio based on an analysis of which party’s ballot the voter requested in the March primary. Many voters do not request a partisan ballot.

Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper said voters are turning out in high numbers and there was a major surge on Sunday with the churches’ “Souls to the Polls” effort to get people to go vote after services. A second push will occur this Sunday.

“We’re encouraged by what we’re seeing so far, but we’re not letting up off the gas,” Pepper said. “Enthusiasm is high, and we have thousands of volunteers across the state, helping to turn out Democratic voters from now through Election Day.”

Brittany Warner, spokeswoman for the Ohio Republican Party, said Chairman Matt Borges has made early voting a priority this election “and the data we’re seeing so far shows that our efforts are paying off. Republicans tend to be more Election Day voters, but we have worked to close the gap in 2016.”

Despite the influx, the number of Ohioans who requested ballots as of Friday — as well as the number who cast them — was down from 2012.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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What happens with problem absentee ballots? - Produced by Lynn Hulsey

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

That year about 2 million people had requested absentee ballots by this time — compared to 1.6 million as of Friday — and more than 1.2 million had been cast, according to Husted’s office.

But those numbers were tallied before the first weekend of early voting hours, which began Saturday and brought in a steady stream of voters, according to area boards of election.

In Montgomery County, 2,700 people voted on Saturday and Sunday. Steve Harsman, deputy director of the Montgomery County Board of Elections, expects 10,000 people to vote between Friday and Monday, the last day to vote early.

“Our biggest weekend is always the last weekend,” Harsman said.

He said the board’s newly renovated and expanded early voting area has proven to be up to the challenge.

“There has been no more than a 10-minute wait,” Harsman said. “We encourage people to come out and vote in person.”

Those voting early are given parking validation slips that allow them to park free in the county parking garage.

Other area boards also reported large weekend turnouts.

“Sunday was busy. We had a line of 50 people at 1 p.m.,” said Jason Baker, director of the Clark County Board of Elections. “In the last two days we’ve seen a 150 percent increase in voters.”

He said 792 people voted on Saturday and Sunday. Through the week there is a constant line of about 20 or 30 people waiting to vote, according to Baker.

Early voters like to “avoid the hassle of waiting in lines on Election Day or want to get it done and get it over with,” he said.

The busiest time for voting in Greene County is the afternoon, said Llyn McCoy, board director. “People are bringing camp chairs,” she said.

Brian Sleeth, director of the Warren County Board of Elections, said his board is “extremely busy” and had 80 people in line to vote when the board opened to vote on Sunday.

In Butler County, early, in-person voting is up 28 percent over 2012, said Board of Elections Deputy Director Jocelyn Bucaro. Requests for absentee ballots are higher, although the rate of return lags the 2012 numbers.

“People are giving us great reviews about voting early,” Bucaro said.

Sleeth said the post office is keeping up well with ballots for those wanting to send in their ballots by mail. The amount of postage required may differ, however, depending on the weight of the ballot. In Montgomery County, all ballots cost 68 cents to mail. Some county ballots need only a Forever stamp.

Absentee ballots can be requested until noon Saturday. Ballots must be postmarked by Monday to be counted. They can be hand-delivered by voters to the local board office until the polls close at 7:30 p.m. on Election Day.

With Election Day not far off elections officials recommend that voters to take their ballots to be postmarked at the post office.

Properly postmarked ballots will be counted as long as they arrive at the board by Nov. 18, said Matt McClelland, spokesman for Husted.

In-person early voting continues through 2 p.m. on Monday.

Statewide:

Total Ballots requested: 1,594,220 | Total Ballots Cast: 1,054,912

Staff Writer Michael D. Pitman contributed to this report.

If you encounter voting problems

Absentee ballots can be tracked at MyOhioVote.com.

Voters are urged to call their local board if they have any questions or problems.


If you encounter voting problems

Absentee ballots can be tracked at MyOhioVote.com.

Voters are urged to call their local board if they have any questions or problems.

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