The Fayette County Board of Elections reported Monday that 31% of the 17,180 registered voters in the county have already voted with still a week to go before Election Day.
As is the trend nationwide, the number of voters casting and/or requesting ballots early is unprecedented. As of Monday afternoon, the local board of elections website reported 5,344 individuals have voted early or have requested a ballot. This total includes 2,669 voters who voted at the board of elections office.
The total also includes 2,576 non-partisan voters, 1,924 registered Republicans, 843 registered Democrats and one Green Party voter.
This total number of 5,344 already far surpasses the total number of absentee ballots cast in Fayette County in the 2016, 2012 and 2008 Presidential general elections. In 2016 there were 3,674 absentee votes; in 2012 there were 3,913; and in 2008 there were 3,192.
Of the almost 2,400 ballots the local board of elections mailed out from absentee ballot requests, around 670 had not been returned to the Fayette County Board of Elections Office as of Saturday, said BOE director Beth Ann Snyder.
“In order for these ballots to be counted Election Night, we need to receive them in our office by 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, November 3rd,” said Snyder. “You can put them in our drop box at our office (135 S. Main St. in Washington Court House). The drop box is located at the front of our building at the end of the ramp going into our office. If you drop them off by 7:30 p.m. Election Night, they will be included in the unofficial totals that night.
“If you have requested an absentee ballot and either have not received it or have not returned it to us, you can vote early in our office after we cancel your original ballot. If you requested an absentee ballot and go to the polls on Election Day, you will have to vote a provisional ballot. If we do not receive your original mailed absentee ballot, your provisional ballot will be counted with the official totals.”
A provisional ballot is used to record a vote when there are questions about a given voter’s eligibility that must be resolved before the vote can count.
“You can go to our website and check to see if your ballot has been returned at: http://www.boe.ohio.gov/fayette/,” Snyder wrote in an email. “Click on Absentee Information, then Absentee Lookup. At the Check My Absentee Request screen you will need to type in your last name, then your first name. You can also call us at: (740) 335-1190.”
The deadline to request an absentee ballot is noon this Saturday, but election and postal officials are urging people not to wait that long if they want their ballot to arrive on time.
Early in-person absentee voting hours this week are today-Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday from 1-5 p.m.; and Monday (the day before the election) from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“This will probably be the busiest week we have here in the office for in person voting,” said Snyder. “We’ve had very, very few lines. Just the other day, we voted 22 people in about 20 minutes. So don’t be discouraged by the lines you might have seen in larger counties.”
In Fayette County, the only contested race on the ballot is for Fayette County Sheriff. Leonard E. Sines is running as an independent against the current sheriff, Vernon P. Stanforth, a Republican.
Also for county voters is an EMS three-year, 1.3-mill renewal levy that funds ambulance and emergency medical services in Fayette County.
In Green Township, there is a two-mill, five-year renewal levy for providing and maintaining fire apparatus.
In the Village of Milledgeville, there is a five-year, eight-mill renewal levy for current expenses.
In Madison Township, there is a five-year, 0.9-mill renewal levy for providing fire protection.
In Jefferson Township, there are proposed zoning regulations on the ballot.
Reach Ryan Carter at 740-313-0352.