COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – With seven days until Election Day, Ohioans continue to vote early in record numbers. 2.2 million Ohioans have cast their ballot for the 2020 general election surpassing the 1.9 million Ohioans who voted early in-person or by mail in 2016.
Two and a half times the number of Ohioans are voting early in-person compared to the same time in 2016.
Additional analysis of the data indicates that absentee ballots are being returned at a rate that drastically outpaces that of 2016. 1,432,126 absentee ballots have already been returned to county boards of elections. In 2016, that number was essentially half that with just 766,017 absentee ballots returned.
The doubling of the number of returned absentee ballots relative to 2016 is a very strong indicator that election mail is moving quickly and Ohioans are easily able to cast their ballots.
Absentee ballot requests increased by 430,458 to a total of 3,173,586 requests received by county boards of elections statewide. The total absentee ballots requested includes 25,653 requests from military and overseas voters. At the same time during the 2016 election, 1,594,220 absentee ballots had been requested. 840,644 outstanding absentee ballots have not yet been returned to their county board of elections.
Ohio voters enjoy more hours for early in-person voting than voters in 43 other states. So far this year, 743,130 Ohioans have voted early in-person. For comparison, at the same point in 2016, 288,865 voters had visited their early vote center to cast their ballot. In-person voting continues every day through election day, including the weekend.
“Each week it’s a new record and that’s because enthusiastic voters are taking advantage of Ohio’s convenient voting opportunities which are some of the best in the nation,” Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose said. “With seven days to go, if you’re one of the 841,000 voters who haven’t returned your ballot yet, the time is now to mail it in. That’s the surefire way to ensure your vote will be a part of the results the nation sees on election night.”
All absentee ballots received by the county board of elections by the close of polls on November 3 will be included in the unofficial vote totals released on election night. Outstanding ballots that are postmarked by November 2 and received by the county board of elections within 10 days after the election will be included in the final official results that are released in late November.
Every properly cast ballot will be counted. Boards of elections must contact and can help voters correct any issues with their respective ballot up until the 7 day after the election. LaRose must certify the election by November 28.
The ‘blue shift’
Voting is a lot different this year compared to the last presidential election. With the coronavirus pandemic forcing social distancing, Americans are on pace to vote absentee or by mail in record numbers.
Twenty percent of U.S. adults plan to vote absentee or by mail in this election, according to NBC/SurveyMonkey’s latest poll, released Tuesday. Another 26% plan to vote early and 52% plan to physically go to the polls on Election Day.
Of those polled who have already voted, 63% said it was by mail and 36% said it was in person during early voting.
There is a well-documented partisan rift among voting methods, however. Just 40% of Democrats and those who lean Democrat plan to vote on Election Day, compared to 63% of Republicans/leaners. Of those who plan to vote by mail, Democrats eclipse Republicans 2 to 1.
This could cause something that elections experts are calling a “blue shift.” Because in-person, Election Day votes are often counted immediately and mail-in votes take longer, Republican presidential candidate President Donald Trump could take a lead on Election Night but eventually lose to Democratic challenger Joe Biden when all votes are counted.
In Ohio, however, ballots cast before Election Day will be reported by 8 p.m. and then followed by those cast in-person or arriving on Election Day, according to The New York Times.