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Early vote figures continue their tear in Ohio’s August special election




Voting location. (Photo by the New Jersey Monitor/States Newsroom.)

Early vote totals, already surpassing expectations, have only accelerated as the August 8 election gets closer. Voters will determine whether it should be harder to approve future constitutional amendments.

Through the first seven days, about 16,000 voters showed up to cast their ballots each day. Fourteen days in, however, that average has risen to more than 18,000 a day.

Those daily figures may rise even further. Beginning this week, county boards will be open for extended hours, opening earlier and closing later.

The constitutional amendment raising the bar for all future amendments has clearly galvanized Ohio voters. Those who oppose the idea see it as an effort by conservative lawmakers insulate their political gains by wresting power from the voters. Supporters contend legislating through the constitution isn’t exactly good governance. But the loudest among them make no bones about their political calculations. To them, making it harder to amend the constitution in August, is all about making it harder to pass an abortion rights amendment in November.

How these numbers compare

A total of 255,305 people voted early in-person through last Friday — the most recent absentee report posted. For context, that’s about 118,000 more than all the early in-person votes cast during last year’s primary election. It’s also not far behind the in-person totals through a similar point in last year’s general election.

Absentee ballot figures are flying past the 2022 primary as well. The 250,886 ballots requested for this August’s election represents a 37% increase on the number of requests boards had seen a week out from election day. The current figure isn’t that far off from the 300,765 ballots requested during the entirety of last year’s primary.

So far, voters have turned in 134,721 absentee ballots either in the mail, in-person or via dropboxes. That’s more than double the amount returned by a week out in last May’s primary.

The deadline to request an absentee ballot is August 1.

Pointing fingers

Secretary of State Frank LaRose has spent the months crisscrossing the state campaigning for Issue 1. It’s a notable departure for Ohio’s elections chief, who declined to endorse anyone at all in 2020 because “the people of Ohio need to know that their chief elections officer is calling balls and strikes,” according to

LaRose has dispensed with his previous position for the 2024 presidential election, as well. Earlier this month he endorsed former President Donald Trump.

“I think that there are people trying to make fundamental changes to the fabric of this nation that are dangerous,” LaRose explained after a recent Issue 1 debate. “And so, I think that stepping up and endorsing a candidate for president is the right thing to do.”

LaRose, of course, is running for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination, and in the previous contest, Trump’s endorsement was critical to winning it. But in the more immediate term, LaRose’s outspoken advocacy for Issue 1 means his political prospects are closely tied to its success or failure. And those gangbusters early vote figures are leaving many Republicans feeling nervous.

Republicans typically outperform as an election gets smaller, and an odd-year August special election is about as small as it gets. Massive turnout, though, raises questions about that received wisdom.

Monday, LaRose tried a new tack, challenging his U.S. Senate rivals, both of whom are multi-millionaires, to put $1 million each behind the Issue 1 campaign. He argued the “yes” campaign is getting outspent three-to-one, and “We need to stand united against this unprecedented assault on our state’s values.”

State Sen. Matt Dolan, R-Chagrin Falls, voted to send the matter to the ballot, but hasn’t been an outspoken supporter. Westlake businessman Bernie Moreno seemed insulted by LaRose’s “misguided and divisive” suggestion. His campaign manager David DiStefano noted Moreno has already put “six figures” into the campaign.

“As of right now, we are unaware of any similar personal contribution from LaRose,” he said. “But we are excited to announce that Bernie has agreed to match dollar-for-dollar any personal donation that Frank decides to give.”

“Talk is cheap,” he added.

This story was republished from the Ohio Capital Journal under a Creative Commons license.

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