Voters split on confidence in election security as record early voting kicks off

The unprecedented and highly anticipated general election kicked off in Ohio on Tuesday with long lines for early voting and a record-setting 2-million-plus absentee ballots mailed across the state.

Before the polls even opened Tuesday, hundreds waited in a socially distanced line spanning three floors of the Montgomery County Administrative Building and overflowing into the cold parking garage. More than 1,750 people voted at the Montgomery County Board of Elections on Tuesday, more than double the number of votes Montgomery County cast on the first day of voting in 2016.

More than 350 people voted in Greene County on Tuesday (which election officials said was average), more than 500 in Miami County and more than 1,175 voted in Warren County.



Meanwhile, on the first day absentee ballots (besides those for military and overseas voters) could be mailed to Ohioans, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced that county boards of elections had received a record-setting 2,154,235 absentee ballot applications. That’s nearly double the requests received by the same time during the 2016 election.

ExploreElection 2020: We answer your questions about early voting in person, by mail

Jan Kelly, director of the Montgomery County Board of Elections, said her office mailed approximately 95,000 absentee ballots Tuesday. Over a quarter, or about 98,000, of Montgomery County’s approximately 368,000 registered voters have requested absentee ballots.

Greene County mailed about 31,500 ballots, Miami County mailed about 15,000 ballots and Warren County mailed about 45,000 ballots.

Election officials in Montgomery and Warren Counties said a handful of voters had already received their absentee ballots and dropped them off Tuesday at their county board of elections' drobox.

Several voters waiting in line at the Montgomery County Board of Elections said they were concerned about their vote being counted if they voted by mail or waited until Nov. 3. Others were adamant that the integrity of this election is secure. They said they were early voting to check the errand off their to-do list or for the satisfaction of casting their ballot as soon as possible.

Ohio provides several safe ways to vote, Kelly said, and voters should cast their ballot however they feel comfortable.



Christopher and Lynnita Davis of Dayton were among the first to vote. They arrived about 7:30 a.m. Tuesday and were the first in line in the parking garage, ahead of about 100 people by the time the polls opened. Christopher Davis, 59, said they planned to arrive early the first possible day they could vote so they would be counted. Lynnita Davis, 58, said she would rather come in person because she was concerned by stories she’d seen online, including a story about ballots being found in trash cans.

“You can’t lose a vote that I stood there and made,” she said.

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Lisa Spatz, 65, of Dayton, said she has faith in election officials. She is more concerned about the spread of "propaganda of how (the election) will fail.”

Jocelyn Rhynard, 40, a Dayton Public Schools board member, said she believes voting by mail is “incredibly safe”

“I thought about sending in my vote by absentee ballot and decided that I just wanted to do this in person,” Rhynard said. “I didn’t want to wait another day to cast my ballot. I’ve been waiting for four years to cast my ballot for this specific election.”

Justine Kelly, 35, of Dayton, was insistent that all forms of voting in Ohio are safe and will be counted but she is concerned about the integrity of the election.

“I don’t think the post office is going to lose the ballots and I don’t think that there’s going to be widespread voter fraud,” she said. “I do anticipate there to be legal challenges and court injunctions and other such mischief (after the election) that would let things go in a direction (not determined by voters).”

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