More than 3,600 early ballots had been cast or requested in Highland County as of Friday afternoon for the Nov. 8 General Election, according to local election officials.
The exact count at around 3:30 p.m. Friday was 3,617 since Oct. 12, when early voting began. That number included 893 in-person voters at the election board office. But a steady stream of voters continued to line up to cast their ballots over the next several minutes.
Steve Witham, elections administrator for the Highland County Board of Elections, said that for the most part voters have not had to wait to cast ballots at one of the six voting machines set up at the office. But he said occasionally enough voters have been present at the same time that a line began to form.
“We have had spurts where they were lined up,” said Witham.
Election officials agreed that the early voting turnout has so far exceeded previous years, indicating a high degree of interest in the election, as well as continuing a trend of more early votes as people become increasingly familiar with the option with each passing election.
Witham encouraged Highland County voters to cast early ballots, especially in person if possible at the election office at the Hi-Tec Center, 1575 N. High St., Suite 200. He said the cost to mail ballots is $6.72 apiece when calculating postage and other associated costs, while the cost to taxpayers of in-person voting is relatively negligible.
Plus, Witham said the more votes that are cast early, the less stress on poll workers on Election Day and the shorter the lines at voting precincts around the county.
Hours for in-person early voting are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday at the election board office, with Saturday and Sunday hours added beginning Oct. 29. Votes can also be cast in person on Monday, Nov. 7 – the day before Election Day – from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. The complete schedule can be found at www.highlandcountyelections.com. The election board office can be reached at 937-393-9961.
On Friday, election officials and volunteers were busy helping people vote, answering questions and fielding phone calls, one from a service member asking specifics about military voting. Overall, Witham said the process has been operating smoothly.
A free smart phone app is available and capable of answering a number of questions, along with helping people verify information about voting and elections in Highland County. The app can be found by searching a mobile app store for TRIAD Governmental Systems Inc. and then downloading the “Ohio Voter Info” app and finding Highland County in the drop-down menu.
Earlier this week, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted announced that an estimated 1,245,670 absentee ballots had been requested statewide, including 19,770 requests from military and overseas voters.
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.