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First Day Of Early Voting In Ohio Draws Big Crowds

Line outside Franklin County Early Vote Center, First Day of Early voting
Jo Ingles
/
Statehouse News Bureau
Line outside Franklin County Early Vote Center, First Day of Early voting

Early voting is underway in Ohio, so voters who ordered ballots by mail will begin receiving those soon. But thousands of voters will go to their local boards of elections to cast ballots in person, starting today.

Columbus resident Brandy Seymour said she’s concerned about another lockdown like Ohio experienced in the May primary. And she said it’s so important she was willing to stand in line for a little more than an hour at the Franklin County Board of Elections to make sure her vote is in. “I’m worried about people taking votes and throwing them away in the mail. I mean, think about it – how reliable is the postal service anyway? Like, I mean, even just mailing a Christmas card. You hear stories about ‘oh yea, this Christmas card was mailed in 1920 and they just found it and mailed it," Seymour said. Columbus resident Manny Tarver also didn't want to wait to cast his ballot in person. "I didn't want to wait until the last minute. I didn't want to do the mail in ballots."So I just felt that I actually had to get out and go vote today," Tarver said. Lines at county boards of elections around the state were forming before sunrise in many cases. Polls opened at 8 a.m. And by 10 a.m., many voters had waited an hour or more to get into this Franklin County Early Vote Center where they could cast their ballots. 

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Credit voter checks in to vote at Franklin County Early Vote Center / Jo Ingles
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Aaron Sellers with the Franklin County Board of Elections said 150 machines had been placed inside the warehouse with plenty of distance so voters could cast their ballots safely. 

view inside the Franklin County Early Vote Center
Credit Jo Ingles
/
view inside the Franklin County Early Vote Center

 Back in 2016, 550 people cast their ballots in the first hour and a half on the first day early in-person voting was available. Today, during that same period of time, 2,486 had voted. ballots at their county boards of elections on this first day of in person voting. 

Inside the Delaware County Early Vote Center, 12:30 p.m.
Credit Jo Ingles
/
Inside the Delaware County Early Vote Center, 12:30 p.m.

Just north of Columbus, in suburban Delaware County, voters were also heading to the polls early. Board of Elections Director Karla Herron said 500 had voted in the first few hours of voting. And though she didn't know exactly how that compared with 2016, she said she knew there were many more voters in the earliest hours this time around. Rural areas saw crowds too. In reliably conservative Tuscarawas County, south of Canton, voters were lined up around the county's Board of Elections. Some stood in line for more than an hour to cast their ballots when early voting began at 8 a.m.  

Tuscarawas County Early Voting Site
Credit Drew Silverthorn
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Tuscarawas County Early Voting Site

The number of Ohioans who want to cast ballots by mail has increased this year. Secretary of State Frank LaRose reported 2.1 million Ohioans had requested mail-in ballots before the early voting officially began. Many of those were sent out yesterday. 

Ohio ballots prepared for mailing
Credit Dan Konik
/
Ohio ballots prepared for mailing

ballots prepared for mailing on October 5, 2020
Credit Dan Konik
/
ballots prepared for mailing on October 5, 2020

But this year, many voters said they questioned the reliability of the United States Postal Service, especially given some of the changes that have been made recently. And President Trump has tried to persuade his supporters to ditch the mail-in ballots and show up in person on Election Day instead.  Some voters have elected to deposit their ballots in drop boxes at their county boards of elections.

Lake County drop box
Credit Abigail Bottar, WKSU
/
Lake County drop box

Ohio Secretary of State LaRose expects larger than usual crowds on November 3rd. He's instructed boards of elections to recruit 50% more poll workers than they usually have on that day. 
Copyright 2020 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.