Election Day is finally upon us — or at least what we still call Election Day, since more than 93 million Americans have already cast ballots in an election that has been reshaped by the worst pandemic in more than a century.
In Fayette County as of Monday, more than 7,000 voters had voted early or requested a ballot.
This total includes more than 4,400 who voted at the Fayette County Board of Elections Office and over 2,500 who voted by mail. Monday was the last day of early voting and lines could be seen extending outside the board of elections office.
“When Congress allocated $12.8M to Ohio specifically for elections-related expenses through CARES Act, we took the extraordinary step of sending nearly 90% of our allocation straight to the county boards of elections so they could hire temporary personnel, obtain mail-handling equipment in anticipation of a higher level of votes arriving by mail, and order the PPE they require,” Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose wrote in a column Monday. “Not only does this funding help keep Ohioans safe, it boosts each county’s ability to process and manage the expected massive influx of absentee ballots. The rest of the federal dollars? I worked to make sure almost all of it went to making sure every registered Ohioan received an absentee ballot request form in their mailbox.
“As a result, record numbers of Ohio voters are casting their ballots early. In fact, ‘record-breaking’ doesn’t even do justice to what we’ve seen. Ohio voters have blown away all previous records for early and absentee voting.
“As of the writing of this column, 2.2 million voters have already cast their ballot. That’s 16% more than what we saw from early and absentee voting in all of 2016.”
In Fayette County, the early voting number this election cycle far surpassed the total number of absentee ballots cast in the county in the 2016, 2012 and 2008 presidential elections. In 2016 there were 3,674 absentee votes; in 2012 there were 3,913; and in 2008 there were 3,192.
But now, on Election Day, all voting must take place at registered voters’ polling places.
“Voting will happen on Election Day, and it will be safe because we worked with the CDC and Ohio Department of Health to develop and implement a 61-point Voter and Poll Worker Safety & Health Plan. In partnership with Ohio businesses like Cleveland’s own RB Sigma and Anheuser-Busch in Columbus, important PPE resources made their way to our county boards of elections and our teams are ready to go,” said LaRose.
Polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. today.
“When every vote is counted – and, as I’ve been saying for months, that doesn’t just mean the votes counted on election night – and the dust settles, Ohioans will know that this was a safe, secure, accurate and accessible election; and then I hope they’ll join me at the Statehouse to work with the legislature to make our great system even better,” said LaRose. “Ohio, if you haven’t yet voted in this election, be sure to make your voice heard on Tuesday. Voting is safe. The poll workers are trained and ready. The only person who can stop you from voting is you.”
The big draw for this election is undoubtedly the Presidential contest between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden. However locally, there is still an important race and several levies on the ballot.
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.
Stay with the Record-Herald on Election Night at our website, www.recordherald.com, for the latest news.
Reach Ryan Carter at 740-313-0352.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.