Many County Board of Elections officials say the early in-person voter turnout in this year’s election has been breaking records. The reporters of the Statehouse News Bureau talked to voters in two counties in Central Ohio - one run by Republicans and one dominated by Democrats.
In Delaware, it looked like Black Friday at Big Lots. But it was votes, not sales, that enticed people to stand in a long line that snaked around the Delaware County Board of Elections which, incidentally, shares one end of the building that also houses the overstock discount store. 827 voters stood in line, for an hour in some cases. Catie Kocian, a college student, was one of them.
“This seems like a good way to get out and get it over with,” said Kocian.
Kocian says she’s voting for Democrat Hillary Clinton. Guillermo Gutierrez was standing in line with her and he too, was voting for the former Secretary of State.
“I personally do not believe anything Donald Trump has ever said. I don’t like his economic policies. I don’t like his foreign policy. A lot of the things he has said don’t represent me as an American and I don’t think they represent a lot of individuals as Americans,” Gutierrez said.
But Valerie Klosz says Republican Donald Trump does speak for her.
“Our beliefs line up closely with his platform.”
Her husband, Raymond Klosz, says Trump is more in tune with his thinking as a Republican than some other GOP candidates.
“As Republicans what we would like to see is the Republican candidates represent the will of the Republican people. One reason you have Donald Trump is you have people like John Kasich and others who didn’t embrace the concerns of people like us, the voting public,” said Klosz.
The Executive Director of the Delaware County Board of Elections, Karla Herron, says early in person voting has been more popular this year.
“We have had record turnouts. Thursday, Friday and Saturday were all record days for us. Yesterday, for instance, we have over 1700 voters that came through our office. In 2012 the highest turnout we had in any one given day was 1200 voters,” Herron explained.
Herron says this election is sparking interest in Delaware County. But this reliably Republican county is not alone.
In Columbus, the Franklin County Early Voting Center was packed with people waiting to cast their ballots.
The line stretched down the length of a strip mall and twirled around a giant parking lot. And although thousands of people showed up on the final weekend day of early voting the average wait time was only one hour.
Those standing in line during the warm fall day agreed that it was worth the wait. That includes Anne Leonard-Palmer of Columbus.
“We’re trying to reduce the amount of stress at the polls on Tuesday morning and it’s important to me to vote because it’s our right and it’s incredibly important to have the country to go in the direction I hope it will,” said Leonard-Palmer.
For Leonard-Palmer, a Clinton supporter, the direction she’s hoping for is one of unity after a divisive presidential race. Bruce Timberlake, a fellow Clinton voter from Columbus, agrees.
“That’s the main thing division, I would love to see that deceased. It’s going to take some work on both sides that’s what I’m really looking forward to, bringing this country back together,” said Timberlake.
On Friday, Franklin County broke a record number for the amount of votes made early, in one day with more than 6,800 people casting their ballot.
Even with a large turnout for early voting, Franklin County is still bracing for huge lines on Election Day. More than 60% of the overall turnout is expected to happen that day.