Ryan, Franklin Vote Early to Kick Off Biden’s ‘OH-I-Vote’ Tour

WARREN, Ohio — With Election Day just a week away, the Joe Biden campaign is making one final push to drive early voting in the state.

Biden for President Ohio kicked off its OH-I-Vote statewide tour Monday, with elected officials stopping at their local early voting sites to cast their ballots. Yesterday evening, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-13 Ohio, joined Warren Mayor Doug Franklin to vote at the early voting location at 2911 Youngstown Road SE.

“This is an important day for an important election,” Franklin said. “Given the fact that we’re so close, we want to make sure that every voter understands that there’s eight days left, and getting out early to vote is critical to this election.”

Franklin assured voters that it’s safe to come out and vote, whether in person or dropping off a ballot. As he spoke to the press, a line about 30 deep had begun to snake around the voting building. All were wearing masks and maintaining social distancing.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-13, joined Warren Mayor Doug Franklin to vote early.

After voters cast their ballot, Franklin encouraged them to contact family, friends and neighbors who might not have had an opportunity to offer them assistance to make a plan to go out and vote. To begin a voting plan or to seek assistance, Franklin reminded residents to start at IWillVote.com.

“Every single day, every contact we make gets us a day closer to changing the course of this country,” Franklin said. “I know that we can be bigger, better and more united under Joe Biden’s leadership.”

Donning his Cleveland Browns gear, Ryan arrived with his wife, Andrea, and their son, Brady. Ryan agreed with the mayor that it’s important to get the votes in now, and said the election is an opportunity to bring people from the community together despite the political division.

“We’re so far beyond Democrat and Republican right now. This is about being an American, taking care of each other, getting this pandemic under control and rebuilding the economy,” he said. “That’s what I’m voting for here.”

Having weeks to get ahead of the lines and vote early is “an advantage for everybody,” Ryan said.

Early voting has surged in the Mahoning Valley since Oct. 6. As of Monday at about 3:30 p.m., Trumbull County Board of Elections recorded 13,093 in-person votes, said Deputy Director Ron Massullo. That compares to about 11,000 in all of 2016. “And we still have eight days left,” Massullo said.

That’s also up from 7,828 in-person ballots cast as of Oct. 20.

Of the 41,680 absentee mail-in ballots requested, 29,724 have been returned, reported the board’s director, Stephanie Penrose. That’s up from 18,293 returned as of Oct. 20.

By 3:30 p.m., the line at the early voting site in Warren started to snake around the building.

Massullo confirmed voters are depositing ballots in the drop-off box at an hourly rate of more than 100.

“It’s kind of crazy,” Massullo said. “But people want to make sure their ballot is at the Board of Elections.”

Mail-in ballots are still coming in strong as well, he said. On Monday, the board received three trays of mail-in ballots, with 400 to 500 ballots with each tray.

Voting is “very steady” at the Columbiana County Board of Elections, reports deputy director Bryce Miner. Monday saw the longest lines of the early voting period thus far, he said, with wait times between 10 and 15 minutes.

“Our number is 5,325 and climbing,” he said in an emailed response.

An inquiry with the Mahoning County Board of Elections hadn’t been returned as of Monday evening, but as of Oct. 20, nearly 30% of the county’s registered voters have either requested ballots or voted in person, reported deputy director Tom McCabe. That includes 7,952 who already voted in person and 48,826 who requested ballots to be mailed, about 19,000 of which had been returned at the time.

In 2016, President Donald Trump won Trumbull County with 52.1% of the vote, topping former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by nearly 455,000 votes. Ryan says 2020 is “a much different election,” not the least of which because of the coronavirus pandemic, adding that the Trump administration’s approach to the pandemic is “a disaster waiting to happen.”

Ryan is referring to a statement made Sunday by White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“We’re not going to control the pandemic,” Meadows said, “we are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigations.”

“Vice President Biden is trying to be as responsible as possible with regard to dealing with this virus,” Ryan said. “If we let it go wild, we’re going to have to have another shutdown. And that’s not what we want. That’s not what anybody wants.”

Copyright 2020 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.