Early voting: when and where? More ballots expected before Election Day

Jason Baker, director of the Clark County Board of Elections, tests all the equipment at the Board of Elections for the start of early voting for the May 4th election. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Jason Baker, director of the Clark County Board of Elections, tests all the equipment at the Board of Elections for the start of early voting for the May 4th election. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Early voting begins in little more than a week for the Nov. 2 election, which has a large slate of candidates running for positions on local councils, trustee boards and school boards.

Voters can cast votes by absentee voting by mail or in-person starting Tuesday, Oct. 5. The November election not only decides local races, it will decide if taxpayer money is used to build new schools, jails, roads or bridges in some communities or be used to renew operating levies for police, fire and mental health agencies.

In general, county election officials expect better turnout than in the spring 2021 primaries, but not approaching the historic totals seen in the November 2020 general election. And voters’ liking for mail-in ballots or in-person early voting, driven initially by COVID-19 restrictions, seems likely to continue.

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No changes are expected to in-person voting procedures: face masks aren’t mandated, but are generally suggested and will often be available. Other COVID-19 precautions will remain in place.

In fall 2020, Champaign County saw about 75% of registered voters turn out, said Board of Elections Director Meredith Bodey.

“It’s going to be very different from last year, that’s for sure,” she said. “I’m thinking if we hit 30% this time we’re going to be doing good.”

Of the people who voted in that general election, 61% voted early, either through mail-in absentee or in-person early voting, Bodey said. In-person early voting outpaced mail-in ballots, but only by about 1,500.

“The trend is definitely moving more towards the absentee and early voting,” she said.

So far this fall Bodey’s office has received only a handful of absentee ballot requests. At the polls, COVID-19 precautions will follow the secretary of state’s recommendations, she said.

“I honestly don’t know what to expect for this election coming up,” said Amber Lopez, Clark County deputy director of the board of elections. “It is a local election, but there are quite a few tax issues and levies that tend to bring people out.”

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Turnout in the May 2021 primary was a dismal 8.3%, of whom about one in five voted early in person or by absentee ballot. About two-thirds of early voters came in person, Lopez said.

But in November 2020, the county saw 72% turnout, with 64,710 votes cast, she said.

“Of those, 41,872 were absentee,” split about evenly between in-person and mail-in votes, Lopez said.

How to early vote

All in-person early voting will take place at each county’s board of elections office. Early voting will be open the same hours statewide:

· 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, until Oct. 22, except for Oct. 11, Columbus Day;

· 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Oct. 25 to Oct. 29;

· 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 30;

· 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 31; and

· 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Nov. 1.

Nov. 1 is also the deadline for mail-in absentee ballots. They may be returned in person to your local board of elections office until 7:30 p.m. Nov. 2.

Monday, Oct. 4, is the deadline for registering to vote in the Nov. 2 election.

Information on absentee ballots and all other voting questions can be found at the Ohio secretary of state’s elections webpage, www.ohiosos.gov/elections, or from each county’s board of elections.