Early voting shapes a new norm for local election boards in Ohio and Pa.

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MERCER, PA. (WKBN) – If you missed Tuesday’s deadline to register for an absentee ballot in Pennsylvania, you’re going to have to cast your vote on Election Day.

There is still a week left before Election Day, but roughly 15% of the registered voters in Mercer County have already cast their ballots, with five times as many people requesting absentees as compared to 2016.

In Ohio, this year’s election has drawn a record 3.2 million requests for absentee ballots.

In Mahoning County, more than 55,000 ballots have been requested with about 33,000 of those returned to the Board of Elections. Another 13,000 have gone through in-person voting at the board. That compares to just 41,600 early or mail-in ballots case four years ago.

In Trumbull County, nearly 42,000 absentee ballots have been requested as of Tuesday morning with 31,000 of them returned. Another 13,600 people have voted in-person. Back in 2016, the county saw just over 30,000 absentee votes casts.

Columbiana County has seen close to 14,000 ballots requested and almost 11,000 have been received.
Roughly 5,600 more people voted in-person at the Board of Elections in Lisbon. In 2016, the board recorded just 7,300 “early” or mail-in ballots.

It’s getting down to the wire for absentee ballots in Pennsylvania. Tuesday was the deadline to request one, whether people chose to vote in person at their local election office or mail it in.

Mercer County has seen a robust absentee ballot request and return.

“This year, we’ve had about 20,000 (absentee ballots), and we’ve already had over 60% of those ballots returned,” said Thad Hall, Mercer County elections director. “The benefit of coming to our office is we are able to ensure that the voter has put it in the security envelope, and they’ve signed and dated it correctly,” Hall said.

Some voters, such as Jeff Straka, took advantage of in-person voting to avoid the potential for large crowds next Tuesday.

“I think there will be mass confusion. I think the polls would be overwhelmed,” he said.

Although election workers say the vast majority of voters requesting mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania have already received them, they concede the system isn’t perfect. Carrie Breese of West Middlesex has been waiting for a ballot that hasn’t arrived yet.

“I’ve been waiting on an absentee ballot myself. Today is my day off from work. I am a health care worker and I work a lot of overtime. I don’t know that on the 3rd that I will be able to make it and stand in a long line,” she said.

Hall said there is still an option for voters still waiting to get their absentee ballots in the mail. That would be to go to their local polling place on Election Day.

“They are going to have to vote a provisional ballot, but those ballots all get counted at the end of the election,” Hall said.

Absentees will be accepted in Pennsylvania until the end of business on Friday, Nov. 6 but must be postmarked by Election Day.

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