Thousands cast ballot in first week of early voting

Long lines greeted voters at the Montgomery County Board of Elections on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, as early voting began for the November general election. Early in-person voting in the state lasts until Nov. 2 and absentee ballots can be dropped off at the board office until Election Day, which is Nov. 3. In Montgomery County, registered voters can cast their ballot at the board of elections located at 451 W. Third St. in Dayton. MARSHALL GORBY/STAFF

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Montgomery County has seen two-and-a-half times more early votes compared to 2016.

Two-and-a-half times the number of voters have already cast ballots this year in Montgomery County compared to the first two days of early voting in 2016 and in-person voting has also more than doubled in Miami and Warren counties, according to elections officials

“It’s our third day of early voting and we are busy,” Jan Kelly, Montgomery County’s elections director, said Thursday.

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Montgomery County voters cast more than 7,900 ballots Tuesday and Wednesday, Kelly said.

On the first day of in-person voting, 2,162 voters cast ballots at the Board of Elections followed by 1,748 on Wednesday. Voters delivered 4,000 ballots to the county’s drop box over the two days, Kelly said.

Of those casting ballots in Montgomery County over the first two days, about half — or 50.6% — are registered as Democrats; about 9.7% are registered Republicans; and the remaining 39.7% registered with no party affiliation, according to Board of Elections records.

In-person voting skyrocketed over 2016 numbers in Miami and Warren counties.

On Tuesday and Wednesday 2,646 people voted at the Warren County Board of Elections compared to 1,097 ballots received during the first two days of voting in 2016, according to board records.

In Miami County, 1,449 ballots were cast in person the first two days this year while in 2016 the count at the same time was 627. No ballots had made it to Miami County’s drop box during the first two days because they were mailed from a vendor Cleveland, according to Laura Bruns, Miami County Board of Elections director.

While not seeing as large an increase, in-person voting in Greene County is up 44% from 2016 figures for the first two days, according to Llyn McCoy, the county’s elections director. This year 1,091 ballots were voted in person over the two days compared to 758 during the same period in 2016. McCoy said the number of ballots placed in the county’s drop box hasn’t been tallied.

For those still waiting on a mail-in absentee ballot in Montgomery County, the next batch will be mailed Friday, Kelly said.

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Kelly said Montgomery County has generated more than 102,000 absentee ballot requests out of a current 371,185 registered voters.

“That’s a quarter of the registered voters in the county. So good participation,” she said. “We’re expecting a high turnout for this election.”

The number of registered voters will rise as the county works to add those who signed up before Monday’s deadline to register, Kelly said.

More than two million Ohioans requested absentee ballots during an election cycle jarred by a coronavirus pandemic.

“What we’re hoping is that people do vote by mail,” Kelly said. “It’s the safest way to vote. It’s the easiest way to vote and it also just keeps the COVID curve flat.”

Kelly said the county has not heard of any problems with mail-in ballots like one that emerged in Franklin County where an undetermined number of voters received the wrong absentee ballot, according to an Associated Press report.

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