LISBON - Early voting got under way Tuesday across Ohio and in Columbiana County.
About forty people had voted at the county elections board by 1:30 p.m., with no signs of letting up.
It's been busy all day, said elections board director Adam Booth.
Ohio is among 34 states where voters can cast their ballots early, regardless of whether they will be available on election day, which is Nov. 6. Prior to 2006, only those who were going to be out of the county or otherwise unavailable on election day were allowed to vote early by casting an absentee ballot.
Booth said the first day for open voting also coincided with the one-week period where people are also allowed to register to vote and then cast their ballot. We've had some of them, too, he said.
Tuesday was also the first day when the elections board is open extended hours to accommodate early voting and those wishing to register. The office is open from 8 a.m, 5 p.m. this week; until 9 p.m. Oct. 9; until 5 p.m. Oct. 10-12 and Oct. 15-19; until 7 p.m. Oct. 22-26 and Oct. 29-Nov. 1; and until 6 p.m. Nov. 2.
We had people show up first thing we opened, Booth said. I don't know what the hurry is about. We still have 35 days to the election and we're open extra hours, so there's plenty of time. And, of course, you can always vote on election day.
Unlike what occurred in other counties, there were no voters camping in tents outside the board office waiting for the doors to open. This occurred in Mahoning County, where Democrats held a Sleep Out the Vote event.
Booth said Larry Dickey arrived promptly at 8 a.m. to serve as an election observer for the Democrat Party. Dickey, who is an attorney, left for a while but returned in the afternoon.
He just sat there (in the lobby) and watched things. Obviously, he's not allowed to watch people vote but he is allowed to watch us as we process those votes, Booth said.
Although early voting in person began Tuesday, the election board has been receiving absentee ballot applications for weeks. Booth said they have received 5,600 applications to date.
That's already ahead of 2008 (presidential election), when there were 7,500 total, he said.
To accommodate earlier voters and help process absentee ballots, the board added two part-time workers.
Meanwhile, the election board awaits the outcome of an appeal of a federal judge's ruling requiring boards across Ohio be open the weekend prior to the Nov. 6 election to accommodate those still want to vote early but have yet to do so. Otherwise, early voting will end on Friday, Nov. 2.
At least two election boards have chosen to establish formal weekend hours, while the majority are still waiting for a directive from the state before acting.