Early voting tops 10,000

MIAMI COUNTY — Early voting and absentee ballot returns are coming into the Miami County Board of Elections in record numbers.

As of mid-afternoon Friday, an estimated 10,000 of the nearly 16,000 absentee ballots have been received at the office and 11,500 ballots had been filed by early voting. In the 2016 presidential election, 21,050 votes were cast with around 10,000 early votes total.

Deputy Ian Ridgeway said early voting numbers have averaged around 900 or more every day last week.

Director Laura Bruns said voter turnout will likely be a historic 50 percent. There are 72,455 registered voters in Miami County.

Bruns said everyone who requested an absentee ballot before the delay due to a third-party vendor issue should have their ballots at this time. If not, Bruns said they can call and request another one and it will be sent out by the board office immediately. Or, that absentee ballot voter can early vote in-person, voiding their absentee ballot —this allowance can only be made during early voting, not Election Day on Nov. 3.

Earlier this month, Midwest Direct, a mailing company, experienced equipment issues, delaying absentee ballots in 14 counties, including Cuyahoga County (Cleveland area), Summit, and Butler counties.

Bruns said the office ended up sending approximately 1,500 absentee ballots out in-house due to the Midwest vendor’s equipment issues, which delayed ballots getting to voters by a few days.

For those who haven’t requested absentee ballots and would like to do so, Bruns encourages voters to send that application in by next Tuesday to allow enough turn-around to resend it to the board office by mail or deliver it to the office by hand. Applications for absentee ballots are allowed to be submitted by noon Oct. 31.

“We would like to have their application sooner rather than later so we have time to get the ballot to them and they have time to return it to us by the deadline,” she said.

• New directive for absentee voters who want to vote early instead

If a voter has decided to vote in person rather than by mail, but they’ve already requested an absentee ballot, a new change in the rules from the Secretary of State’s Office states you can vote early in person.

If a voter has already received an absentee ballot in the mail, the board of elections will ask for it back and give you a new, regular ballot at the early in-person voting site. You’re not required to return the other ballot as a condition for getting a new one, however. Ohio counts early ballots as they come in, so your vote will be processed ahead of Election Day.

If you’ve requested an absentee but show up to vote on Election Day, you will have to vote provisionally, meaning the ballot won’t be added to the count until after Nov. 3.

“The board of elections may count only one ballot per voter,” the directive says. “If the voter marks and returns more than one ballot, the board must count only the first ballot received. It is a felony to vote more than once in the same election.”

The deadline to request an absentee ballot is three days before the election, but voters can submit their application at any time. If mailed, absentee ballots must be postmarked by the day before the election in order to be counted. You can also return your absentee ballot in-person to the county board of elections before the close of the polls at 7:30 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3.

• Early voting for Miami County registered voters:

Voting will take place at the Miami County Courthouse located at 215 W. Main St., Troy. Use the west-facing entrance on the south side of the building (toward Main Street). Bring identification to the vote center. Voters will be required to practice safe social distancing guidelines while in line and wear a mask when entering the building (if the statewide mask mandate is still in effect).

Early voting is available:

Saturday, Oct. 24 — 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Sunday, Oct. 25 — 1 to 5 p.m.

Monday, Oct. 26 to Friday, Oct. 30 — 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 31 — 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Sunday, Nov. 1 — 1 to 5 p.m.

Monday, Nov. 2 — 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.