Local election boards seeing more people voting early this year

More than 30,000 people in Ohio have voted early statewide this year compared to the same time in 2018, the Secretary of State said, and locally the Montgomery County Board of Elections has fielded almost the same amount of absentee ballot requests so far as it did for all of the 2018 general election.

The Montgomery County Board of Elections has received about 39,000 absentee ballot requests to this point and during the last gubernatorial election, it received about 40,000 in all of 2018.

“I think that’s due to a couple of issues. I think one, people are seeing that it’s a very convenient, easy and a better way in which they can vote because they can look at the candidates. But I also think it’s because of the year that we’re having with the gubernatorial -- especially with both of the candidates (being) from the Miami Valley area,” Montgomery County Board of Elections Director Jeff Rezabek said.

Incumbent Republican Governor Mike DeWine is from Greene County while the Democratic gubernatorial candidate is former Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley.

Technically, people can request absentee ballots up until Nov. 5, Rezabek said, but he cautioned against waiting so long to do so. Logistically, he said, the board can’t get the request that Saturday and get an absentee ballot to the voter for them to send it back in time. He encouraged everyone wanting to vote absentee to request a ballot by Oct. 31.

Election Day is Nov. 8 and polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

In Ohio overall, 71,764 people have voted early compared to 41,152 at the same time in 2018. Just more than 943,000 people have asked for absentee ballot requests in Ohio, compared to nearly 918,000 last year.

“While not a significant increase over the same point in the 2018 election, Ohioans are showing confidence in Ohio’s abundant early voting opportunities,” said Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose. “Our bipartisan boards of elections have done an incredible job making their early voting centers ready, and lines are short for anyone who wants to make sure their voice is heard.”

Greene County Election Board officials said about 2,000 more people have voted early this year compared to this time in 2018. Miami County Election Board Deputy Director Ian Ridgeway said they have received about the same number of absentee requests this year as this time last year, but have seen an increase in in-person early voting.

Credit: Secretary of State's Office

Credit: Secretary of State's Office

Many people voted early in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, LaRose said during a recent Dayton visit, which might lead them to decide to do it again this year. Voting by absentee allows people plenty of time to fill out a ballot, research candidates while they vote and can result in a person receiving less political mail as some candidates will stop sending material to people who already voted, LaRose said.

Ohio voters have about 200 hours of early voting opportunities, the secretary of state said.

The Montgomery County Election Board has seen more than 500 in-person early voters a day since the polls opened last week. Rezabek said that 500 voters has been the average during the first couple of days of previous elections but that mark seems to be sustaining this year.

“I think voters are saying ‘Hey, I can go early, I don’t have to wait until that last minute,’” Rezabek said.

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