By David Skolnick
Mahoning Valley voters cast early ballots in record numbers before Election Day today.
Elections officials in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties said there were more early voters than ever before even though the numbers of in-person voters were fewer in this general election compared with the 2008 presidential election in Mahoning and Trumbull.
The Ohio secretary of state set early voting hours for Monday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Anyone in line by 2 p.m. was allowed to vote.
In 2008, there were five weekends of early voting compared with one this year.
The line Monday to vote early for the last time in this election was out the door at times at the Mahoning County Board of Elections with people waiting up to two hours to cast ballots.
“I should have done this a month ago,” said David Thurik of Youngstown at the election board office on Oak Hill Avenue. “I kept procrastinating. But I’ve got to do it. I don’t mind the wait.”
Corey Jordan of Campbell, a self-described “last-minute-type person,” said he didn’t get around to voting until Monday, and didn’t know if he’d have the time today to go to his polling location.
“It’s worth waiting because I’ll feel better at the end of the day knowing I participated and voted,” he said.
Robert Donadee of Boardman said he’ll be working in the southern part of the state today, so if he didn’t wait in line Monday, he wouldn’t have voted.
“If I didn’t vote, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself,” he said. “People fight and die for the right to vote. For me not to do it would be a shame.”
So why not vote early by mail?
“I missed that deadline,” he said. “I’d prefer not to stand here for two hours, but I did.”
Because of strong early-voter turnout, those going to polling locations today likely will not wait that long to cast ballots, said Joyce Kale-Pesta, Mahoning County Board of Elections director.
“I expect the lines to move very fast” at polling locations, she said.
Polls are open in Ohio from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. today.
Mahoning County had 44,302 early voters for this election, including 15,866 in-person votes at the board of elections office. That includes 3,816 in-person voters between Friday and Monday.
In 2008, Mahoning County had 41,225 early voters including 14,402 who did so in-person at the board of elections.
Of the 170,105 registered voters in the county this year, 26 percent voted early, up from 21 percent in 2008.
Trumbull County had 28,915 people vote early. That includes 11,018 in-person votes at the board of elections office, including 1,328 between Saturday and Monday, said Kelly Pallante, the county board of elections director. In comparison, 25,012 people in the county voted early in 2008 including 11,052 in-person.
Of the 151,505 registered voters in Trumbull County for this election, 19 percent voted early. That’s an increase from 17 percent in 2008.
There were 9,872 registered voters in Columbiana County who voted early, including 2,726 who voted in-person at the board of elections, said Adam Booth, that county’s elections director. Of the 2,726 in-person voters, 809 voted between Friday and Monday.
In comparison, 7,394 people in the county voted early in 2008 with 1,897 voting in-person.
Of the 66,761 registered voters in Columbiana County for this election, 15 percent voted early. In 2008, 12 percent voted early in Columbiana.