By David Skolnick
Despite a strong initial push, it appears the total number of early voters in this presidential election will come close to – but likely won’t exceed – the 2012 general election amount.
This election, however, should surpass 2008’s early vote total.
As of Thursday, a little more than 62,000 early general-election ballots were cast in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties with an additional 15,000 absentee ballots mailed but not yet returned, according to election officials.
In 2012, 84,623 early votes – either by mail or in person at boards of elections – were cast in the three counties, with 75,340 in the 2008 presidential election.
“It doesn’t look like we’re going to get to 2012,” said Thomas McCabe, deputy director for the Mahoning County Board of Elections. “Mail requests are slowing down, but we’re getting steady walk-ins [on Wednesday and Thursday], but we could see more during the weekend.”
About 30,000 people – 21,000 by mail and 9,000 in person – have voted in Mahoning County. There are another 9,000 absentee mail ballots that were mailed to county voters that haven’t been returned, and not all will come in, McCabe said.
In 2012, 44,331 people in the county voted early with 30,864 by mail and 13,467 in person. In 2008, 42,574 people voted early with 26,686 by mail and 15,888 in person at the board.
“We’ll hit about 42,000 early voters” in this general election, McCabe said.
In Trumbull County, about 24,051 people have voted early – 15,653 by mail and 7,834 in person – with an additional 4,138 absentee ballots mailed to voters that have yet to be returned, said Stephanie Penrose, the county’s board of elections director.
In 2012, 29,710 county voters cast early ballots with 18,673 doing so by mail and 11,037 in person at the board office.
Likely today, the county in this general election will exceed the 24,977 early votes – 13,545 by mail and 11,052 in person – cast in 2008. But getting more than 2012’s early turnout seems unlikely.
Penrose said, “I thought it would be a lot higher this year. The ballots are trickling in. Every day I hope for big buckets of mail. I don’t know if everyone is waiting to turn in their ballots during the last few days.”
In Columbiana County, about 8,100 early ballots had been cast as of Thursday – 6,300 by mail and 1,800 in person. There are 1,600 other absentee ballots mailed to voters that haven’t been returned, said Adam Booth, director of that county’s elections board.
In 2012, 10,582 people voted early in the county with 7,855 doing so by mail and 2,727 in person at the board. In 2008, the total was 7,789 – 5,892 by mail and 1,897 in person.
“We’ll get to or barely eclipse 2012’s number,” Booth said.
On Oct. 4, about 44,000 Valley voters had requested absentee ballots, ahead of the early-voting pace for the three counties at the time. But the requests lessened and in-person voting hasn’t been consistent.
Those who have requested mail ballots must have them postmarked no later than midnight Monday to be counted.
In-person voting at boards of elections runs from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. today, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday.
The polls are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.