Early voting in Ohio light as presidential race remains in flux

Only 10,104 Ohioans have voted early so far for the March 15 Ohio primary, signaling that some voters may be waiting for the presidential race to take shape, especially on the Republican side.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted on Tuesday said that 151,697 absentee ballots were requested by-mail and in-person for the election.

“The Republican presidential race has yielded record turnouts in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina,” said Mark Caleb Smith, director of the Center for Political Studies at Cedarville University. “Whatever the cause, it is fair to say that Republicans are energized and voting at historic rates right now. It is probably reasonable to think Ohio will see similar turnout, either through absentee or traditional voting, if the race is still competitive and Ohio is hotly contested.”

In total, 335,542 voters cast absentee ballots during the 2012 presidential primary election. During the 2008 presidential primary election, 557,686 voters cast absentee ballots.

Of course the 2012 election was a lot different than the 2016 election.

On the Republican side of the presidential race, there are still five candidates in the race, including Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Voters who vote early might lose the power of their presidential vote if the candidate they support quits the race between now and the Ohio primary. The other candidates on the ballot include Ben Carson, Donald Trump, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. Other candidates who have already dropped out such as Rand Paul and Jeb Bush, will still appear on the Ohio ballot.

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WHO IS RUNNING?: 15 Republicans are running March 15 in primary to replace John Boehner

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“Legally speaking, even if a candidate suspends his or her campaign, votes still come in and are counted and recorded for that candidate,” Smith said. “The more complicated question is what happens to potential delegates that a candidate earns if they drop out after they have earned them. That depends on the state and the candidate and the party.”

On the Democratic side there are fewer candidates running in Ohio - Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Rocky De La Fuente.

Based on an informal survey of Ohio’s 88 county boards of elections, as of Friday:

• 151,697 absentee ballot applications received statewide.

• 10,104 absentee ballots have been cast.

• 1,621 absentee ballots cast by mail.

• 8,483 absentee ballots cast in-person.

• 141,593 absentee ballots outstanding.

In addition to the presidential primaries, Ohioans will nominate candidates for the United States Senate, the Ohio Supreme Court, Congress, the state legislature and many local races. 465 local issues in 82 counties will also be decided.

According to Husted’s office “Ohio voters have the option to vote by mail from home 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 211 hours to vote early in-person over a four week absentee voting period, which began on February 17th.”

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