With a half hour to go before polls closed for early voting at 2 p.m. Monday afternoon, Scioto County Board of Elections Director Julia Gearheart stated there was a line of voters stretched across the lobby of the courthouse near the board of elections office in downtown Portsmouth.
As of 1:30 p.m., Gearheart added the grand total of early voters had reached 6,842. That number included ballots mailed in locally as well as those coming from military members and other registered voters currently overseas. She reported 2,704 voters, what she described as a much larger number than usual, had turned up in person to vote Monday with that half-hour still to go.
“There is no doubt we are much busier than usual,” Gearheart said. “This is more comparable to a presidential election.”
As most probably know, the current election is considered a midterm election, halfway through the current president’s term in office. Gearheart said she expected the high levels of voter participation to continue through election day today (Tuesday). Polls open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m. The first results will include all absentee ballots and must be available according to Gearheart by 7:45 p.m. tomorrow.
Gearheart said she believes the stronger than normal turnout locally is due to some empty seats such as the state representative position being vacated by Dr. Terry Johnson, who was term limited out of office. Either Republican candidate Brian Baldridge or Democratic candidate Adrienne Buckler will succeed him as a representative for the 90th district which includes all of Scioto County.
The local heads of the two major political parties did not respond to requests for comment.
While Gearheart talked about open local races, other news media from around the state all were reporting large voter turnouts. According to various reports, early voting numbers were up markedly in Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, and Franklin County, which encompasses Columbus, as well as many other counties in Ohio.
As of press time, state voting officials did not reply to the requests for statewide early voter numbers.
According to the state elections website, state law offers all registered Ohio voters the opportunity to vote early by requesting an absentee ballot at their local county board of elections or early voting center as designated by the county.