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Ohioans Requested 1.2 Million Absentee Ballots, Outpacing 2014

voting booths
John Minchillo
Associated Press

An estimated 1.2 million absentee ballots have been requested and more than 737,000 cast so far in Ohio, according to the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office.

Those numbers are outpacing the 2014 election, which at the same point saw 881,000 absentee ballots requested and 477,000 cast. Ohioans can vote absentee by mail or in person up until Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Those ballots will be the first ones counted on Election Day, but an expected boom in turnout and a slew of competitive races means Ohio may have to wait a while for results. Recent polls have shown the race for Ohio governor is still close enough to be considered a “toss-up” by political analysts.

That means several races could come down to provisional ballots – those cast by people who didn’t have proper ID, for instance – and to absentee ballots that hadn’t arrived at boards of elections by Tuesday. So Tuesday night’s total might come late, or not at all.

Elections analyst Mike Dawson said if the total of early and Election Day votes is close, those provisional and outstanding absentee ballots could be critical.

“There will probably be 120,000 or 130,000 outstanding ballots that are going to get counted, and the campaigns will be looking to see what they can ascertain about them and how they might have voted,” Dawson said.

Only about 15 percent of outstanding absentee ballots will get returned on time and added in. But about 90 percent of provisional ballots are likely to be counted, and history suggests 60 percent of them will likely be from Democratic voters.

But they won’t be counted till 10 days after Election Day.

Gabe Rosenberg joined WOSU in October 2016. As digital news editor, Gabe reports breaking news and edits all content for the WOSU website, as well as manages the station's social media accounts.