CUYAHOGA COUNTY, Ohio — No marching bands, celebrities, rallies, or vendors were needed Tuesday to generate a crowd at the Cuyahoga County Board of Election on the first day of early voting in Ohio, the election itself did that as folks started lining up more than two hours before the doors opened here. They are used to seeing long lines like this in presidential years but not like this.
“Not on day one,” said Anthony Perlatti, Director of the Board of Elections. “No this is something that you see more so kind of towards the final week of early in-person voting cycle.”
In 2016, just under 1,200 people voted early in-person in Cuyahoga County on the first day, a number they passed around 2 p.m. So why today? Many like Kevin Jackson of Westlake say it’s because he isn’t leaving anything to chance.
“With everything that’s going on with the mail slowing down and everything I just wanted to make sure that my vote was counted,” Jackson said.
Another voter Terry May of Cleveland told us how she had never missed an election until this year’s primary which was switched in March to an all vote by mail primary in April.
“I sent in my application at the post office and I never got a ballot so I wasn’t going to do that again.”
A record 2.1 million voters in Ohio requested a vote by mail ballot, 300,000 of them in Cuyahoga County. Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose told News 5 he hopes those still thinking about it who will get their ballot application in now.
“What this helps us do is flatten the curve not the one related to the virus that’s important to but we’re talking about the absentee ballot request curve,” LaRose said. “We don’t want everyone to request their absentee ballot at the end of the month and swamp the boards of election.”
LaRose defended his decision not to expand the number of drop boxes in the state outside the county boards of election. Anthony Perlatti said Cuyahoga County though will take advantage of one exception allowing them to add an additional manned location in the parking lot of Campus International School at 30th Street and Chester Avenue starting Tuesday, October 13.
“For all hours that we are open for early in-person voting we will have bipartisan teams in that parking lot to collect ballots,” Perlatti said.
In-person early voting runs Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with expanded hours coming the week of October 16.