State Ballot Issues Spike Interest In Early Voting

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101 year old Roma Thompson of Galloway casts early ballot at Franklin County Board of Elections.(Photo: Courtesy of Franklin Co. Board of Elections)
101 year old Roma Thompson of Galloway casts early ballot at Franklin County Board of Elections.(Photo: Courtesy of Franklin Co. Board of Elections)

Oftentimes, voter interest and voter turn-out tend to decline during so-called off-year elections when neither the president nor the governor’s race is up for grabs. Fueled by the effort to repeal Senate Bill 5, this year’s election appears to be drawing strong interest as requests for absentee ballots keep ballooning.

“Come early, get done, leave”

Voter Ray Christie showed up at the Franklin County Board of Elections within minutes after early voting polls opened for the day on Monday.  It was the first time he cast an early vote.

“I like the process, it gives you an opportunity to get it out of the way. You can focus more on the issues better than you can waiting the latter part of the voting day. I think it works good, especially for working people.”  Says Christie.

Nearly 700 voters cast ballots on Sunday, making it the heaviest in-person absentee voting day so far. Nearly 80,000 Franklin County voters have requested ballots this year.  It’s a huge spike over the last two off-year elections. This year’s total is double the number of absentee ballots two years ago when voters decided the controversial casino issue. And triple the absentee ballots in 2007.

Board of Elections Director William Anthony says voter interest has spiked even though the board was unable to mail unsolicited absentee ballot applications to all registered voters this fall.

“You know we’ve been pushing absentee voting ever since it started. It’s unfortunate we couldn’t mail the apps but we’ve done everything we can.” Anthony says.  “And I think folks have responded. We’ve done a lot to get folks to request an absentee ballot and I think it’s helped tremendously.”

Jennie Vogts, Michelle McCoy, and Emily Williams all cast early votes.

q)” Tell me was there any particular issue or race that you wanted to make sure you got a vote in?  (VogtsI)  “Issue Two. “Really?  “Absolutely, its important to me.”
(McCoy) “Hey, we need what’s best for us and Issue Two, Three and 22 is very important.
(Williams) “Issue Two…yeah S-B 5, and also health care.

Issue Two is a proposed change in Ohio’s new collective bargaining law, Issue Three is a proposed constitutional amendment on health care changes and Issue 22 is a proposed tax levy for the Franklin County Board of Developmental Disabilities.

Board of elections Director William Anthony says absentee and early in-person voting will have little impact on preparations for next Tuesday’s balloting.  All those early, absentee voters could mean shorter lines at the polls.

Tom Borgerding
WOSU News

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