Early voting for the Nov. 6 general election began Wednesday, and more Butler County voters cast an early ballot on that first day than they did in the last gubernatorial election year.
There were 637 people who voted at the Butler County Board of Elections offices on Princeton Road in Hamilton on Wednesday. It wasn’t until the fifth day until that threshold was passed in Butler County in 2014, which turned out to be an anemic voter-turnout year in the county and state.
VOTER GUIDE: Learn about races and issues on your ballot here
While voter turnout is right around 50 percent in elections where Ohioans elect a governor, four years ago barely 40 percent of Ohioans voted, and less than 37.5 Butler County voters participated. That won’t happen this year, at least in Butler County, said county elections director Diane Noonan.
“Looking at our current stats, it looks like we’ll be over 50 percent turnout,” she said.
There are 255,088 registered voters in Butler County.
This year’s ballot will have federal, state and local races for voters to decide, including a hotly contested race for governor, the controversial State Issue 1, and a historic county school security tax issue.
What is State Issue 1 on the November ballot?
What is the school security tax in Butler County?
In-office early voting isn’t the only thing that’s increased from four years ago. Just under 18,000 requested absentee ballots were mailed out Wednesday, which is an about 3,500 more compared to the 2014 gubernatorial election.
The interest in this year’s election is because the stakes are higher for some.
“Every election is important, but this is more important than others,” said Melvin Smith, of Hanover Twp., an Air Force veteran who served as a B-52 pilot in the Vietnam War.
“I think we’ve got an unusual president and he’s done a lot of good things,” he said. “Even though his mannerism isn’t presidential a lot of times, he still got the economy going, he’s done great things for the veterans, so yes it is.”
Smith’s goal is to make sure Republicans maintain control of the U.S. House and Senate.
Roger Schnieber, of Ross Twp., said he doesn’t like the way the country is politically.
“It’s important to vote. That’s the reason we’re voting,” he said about himself and his wife, who won’t be able to vote on Election Day.
Fairfield resident Roger Fisher said he’s voting because he believes “this to be the most important election of my life, and I’ve lived a long time.”
“My country is at stake. A tremendous number of very negative people have tried to mislead all of us and they’ve done a pretty good job,” he said. “Now we need to wake back up, and we need to do it early and we need to encourage everyone to be supportive and be excited about elections instead of just taking them for granted. That means show up early.”
Early voting is 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays until Oct. 26. It is 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 27 and Nov. 3; 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Oct. 29 to Nov. 2; 1 to 5 p.m. Nov. 4; and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 5. Polls are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 6.