SHEFFIELD TWP. — Election Day isn’t until Nov. 6, but starting today Lorain County voters begin casting their ballots for candidates from president on down to local races and issues ranging from levies to liquor options.
Lorain County Board of Elections Director Paul Adams said the number of voters who have requested absentee ballots so they can vote early is on record-setting pace.
So far, 26,633 voters have asked to vote by mail, he said. Four years ago, there were 33,833 requests for mail-in absentee ballots.
“I would anticipate that at least one-third of voters will vote before Election Day this year, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we flirted with 40 percent the way things are going,” Adams said.
In 2008, 31.2 percent of the county’s voters cast their ballots early, according to Adams.
The bulk of the requests have come from the county’s population centers. Lorain, the city with the largest population in the county, has seen 3,828 voters request ballots. Elyrians, who live in the second largest city by population, have requested 3,406 ballots.
North Ridgeville voters have asked for 3,303 ballots, while Avon Lake has requested 2,727 and Avon voters have asked for 2,279.
The villages and townships, added together, however, account for the largest batch of requests, with 5,611 ballots slated to be mailed out so far.
The data also shows that registered Democrats have asked for the most ballots so far. Their 6,247 requests beat out the Republican total of 4,898 requests. Independent voters have asked for 12,597 ballots, according to the elections board’s data.
At four or five pages depending on where a voter lives, Adams said the absentee ballots are the largest the elections board has ever sent out. That’s because the county has a record number of 60 issues on the ballot and because of the lengthy explanation of the redistricting issue on the ballot.
“We’ve never had ballots that big before,” he said.
Adams also said that the federal requirement that Lorain County provide ballots in both English and Spanish means the ballots will be even longer. He said the U.S. Department of Justice, which has mandated the elections board to provide better access to native Spanish-speaking residents, rejected a request for an exemption to the translation request.
Normally to mail back a ballot costs 65 cents, but this year it will cost voters between $1.50 and $1.70 to return their ballots. Adams said all of the ballot pages need to be returned by voters.
Adams said the board is still waiting to see the results of a court case that centers on whether early voting should be allowed on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday before Election Day.
For early voters
Voters will be able to begin casting their ballots at the elections board offices, located at 1985 North Ridge Road East in Sheffield Township, today.
The board offices will be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday through Oct. 19, although the board will stay open until 9 p.m. Oct. 9, which is the last day to register to vote.
The board will be open for business from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday though Friday from Oct. 22 through Nov. 1 and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 2.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or email@example.com.