Records Broken as Early Voting Wraps Up
WARREN, Ohio – The third time was the charm for Andrea Provitt.
Late Monday morning, following an hour-long wait in line and previous trips to the Trumbull County Board of Elections, the Warren resident was finally able to cast her ballot in today’s general election.
“It had been so busy the last couple days that we didn’t get the chance to,” she said.
When Provitt was leaving, the line at the Trumbull County Board of Elections’ early voting center on U.S. Route 422 snaked around the building, as voters endured unexpectedly cold temperatures to cast their ballots on the final day of early voting before Election Day.
“I figured the lines tomorrow might be longer,” said Alella Cottrill of Bazetta, who was waiting to cast her ballot. “There’s a lot of people that want to vote on Election Day.”
Provitt and Cottrill were among 19,593 Trumbull County voters who cast in-person ballots before today’s election. The county board of elections also received 37,396 mail-in ballots. Polls officially closed at 2 p.m. but people who had been in line were still voting at 3 p.m., said Stephanie Penrose, elections director.
Over the weekend, 1,154 voters in the county cast ballots in person, she said.
Early voting nationwide is far outpacing previous elections, driven by concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.
A record 3.4 million Ohio voters cast absentee ballots or voted early in person, according to Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose. With 243,023 absentee ballots still outstanding, Ohio’s early vote total is already 180% of the previous early vote record and equals 60% of the total votes cast in the 2016 general election, his office reported.
Absentee ballot requests increased by 612,241 to a total of 3,785,827 requests received by county boards of elections statewide, including 26,488 requests from military and overseas voters. At the same time during the 2016 election, 1,994,911 absentee ballots had been requested.
As of Monday afternoon, 1,339,764 Ohioans have voted early in-person, compared with 661,549 at the same point in 2016.
“Ohioans have refused to listen to the fear mongers who have spent months trying to convince them that it’s hard to vote – they’re proving it’s easy with every record broken,” LaRose said in a statement Monday afternoon. “As ballots mailed on time continue to come in over the next 10 days, Ohioans should rest assured that each legally cast ballot will be counted and their voice will be heard.”
As of late Monday, the U.S. Elections Project reported 98,440,077 million votes have been cast, or 71.4% of the total votes counted in the 2016 general election.
“We have seen record numbers of early voting in Columbiana County and it is inspiring to see how important the democratic process is to voters not only in our county, but nationwide,” said Bryce Miner, deputy director of the Columbiana County Board of Elections.
In Columbiana County, 9,198 votes were cast in person as of Monday and another 13,902 mailed ballots were received, he reported. Over the weekend, 850 votes were cast at the board and another 475 Monday, he said.
During the entirety of the 2016 general election, a total of 47,025 ballots were cast, including 2,880 in office and 7,671 cast by mail.
According to the U.S Elections Project, 65,722 Mahoning County voters cast ballots early in person or by mail as of Sunday. County elections officials did not respond to requests for comment.
In Trumbull County, Penrose praised the efficiency of the new early voting center, located in a building adjacent to the Board of Elections’ office. In past elections, early voting in the county had been done along the main counter area of the board’s offices, which wasn’t conducive to the social distancing measures in places to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
Had the building not been available to lease during the early voting period, waits to vote likely would have been longer than an hour, she predicted.
“It was bigger so we could fit people in better and socially distance like we need to”’ she said. “The flow was so much better with an entrance and a separate exit.”
Penrose also said she and her staff are prepared for today. She viewed the success of the 28-day early voting period as “a good omen” for today.
“No Election Day is without hiccups but I think it’s going to go well,” she said.
Pictured: At the Trumbull County Board of Elections, voters wait in line on the last day of early voting.
Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.