Early Voting Numbers “Dramatic”

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A county elections official describes early voting in Franklin County as “dramatic.” Tens of thousands of people have already cast their ballots, and thousands more are expected to do so before Election Day.

Elections officials say they expected 200,000 people to vote early by mail or in person at Veterans Memorial before Election Day. And deputy elections director Matt Damschroeder says they are well on their way toward meeting or surpassing that number.

“As of right now we have mailed out over 212,000 absentee ballots and have had almost 19,000 people voting early at Vets.”

Of those that were mailed, 81,000 voters have already returned their ballots. So if you do the math with two weeks to go before Election Day, more than 100,000 people have already voted in Franklin County.

Some Franklin County voters say they prefer casting ballots in person at Veterans Memorial. Terry Cesar is one of them. He says he wanted to avoid the long lines that occurred during the last presidential election.

“I voted absentee because in the last presidential election it was like a nightmare and I just wanted to get down there and spend 20, 25 minutes instead of waiting for 2 hours to vote,” Cesar says.

Jewel Garrison says she was also a bit apprehensive about waiting until Election Day to vote, but excited about the chance to cast her ballot.

“And I wanted not to have anything get in the way of my exercising that right,” Garrison says. “So I’m pretty excited about the notion of voting, this is a very convenient and a very smart way to do that; it’s a beautiful day, we have the possibility of change in the world so why not be out among it.”

So many people have been voting absentee that Damschroeder predicts the elections board will cut the number of voting machines it sends to precincts that have had heavy early voting.

“There’s a precinct in Grove City where over half the registered voters have already voted early or have requested an absentee ballot,” Damschroeder says. “And so in that precinct with the remaining potential vote they don’t need as many machines as if only 10 percent had requested an absentee ballot. So we’re trying to take that into account as we do our reallocation of voting machines.”

Meanwhile, which votes are actually counted remains unclear. Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien continues to investigate a number of cases of questionable voting. He says he’s had reports from the elections board, the state Republican Party and anonymous phone calls and emails.

“I think that some people can look at the Ohio statute and be under the impression that as long as they are here for 30 days that they’re entitled to register and vote,” O’Brien says. “And that’s not the law.”

O’Brien is looking into about a dozen voters who moved to Ohio and voted from a house on the east side of Columbus. O’Brien wants to know if those voters intended to stay in Ohio. If they did not, O’Brien says the law states those votes should not count.