Nearly 843,000 Ohioans cast ballots in record early voting in a race for governor, US Senator
The nearly-month long period of early in-person voting and voting absentee by mail is over in Ohio. The 88 county early voting centers closed at 2pm Monday so elections officials can prepare for election day Tuesday, when precincts open at 6:30am.
This year's early voting totals surpassed the record set for a midterm election, which is also when Ohio elects a governor. That record was set in the last gubernatorial election, in 2018. Ohio has allowed no-fault absentee voting since 2005, after long lines caused problems and raised concerns in 2004.
The line snaked around the Franklin County Board of Elections in Columbus before the early voting center even opened. Voters had also formed long lines when they turned out over the weekend. The state has allowed early voting for the last two weekends.
Lolita Glenn of Columbus had seen the long line Sunday, so she planned ahead: “I just dropped my car off for an oil change and I’m headed to the line.”
Jason Yax voted early, because he has an important trip to take out of central Ohio. “I’m actually leaving town tonight to visit my mom in Michigan," he said.
A new early voting record in a race for Ohio governor this year. Over 1.5 million Ohioans voted early or requested ballots, 3.9% more than the previous record in 2018. 842,996 absentee ballots were cast by mail/returned to boards of elections. 549,771 Ohioans voted early in person, compared with 429,521 in 2018.
Among the Ohio counties with largest early vote numbers, totals were up compared to 2018 in Butler, Lake and Lorain counties, which were Republican counties in 2020. In 2018, Democratic candidate for governor Richard Cordray beat Republican Mike DeWine in Lorain County by 5.74%.
Early voting totals were also up in Hamilton County, which has voted Democratic in presidential years since 2004 but Republican in recent midterm years. This time, US Rep. Steve Chabot (R-01) is in a close race with Cincinnati City Councilman Greg Landsman, with most analysts suggesting it's a Republican toss-up.
The early vote totals were also up in Stark and Summit Counties, where an open US House seat in the newly drawn 13th District is likely drawing interest. Democratic Former Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes and Trump-endorsed political newcomer Madison Gesiotto-Gilbert are locked in a race that's considered a Democratic toss-up. Stark has been Republican in recent gubernatorial years, and Summit has been a Democratic county in midterm contests since 1994 (except in 2014, when only two counties voted Democratic).
Early voting were down compared to 2018 in Cuyahoga and Franklin, which are both considered Democratic strongholds.
Voter turnout in 2018 was just under 56%. That's a bigger turnout for a midterm election than is typical for Ohio, but well under the nearly 74% of Ohioans who cast ballots in 2020.