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Ohio's early voting starts Tuesday; could eclipse 2008

There are signs that the early voting which begins in Ohio Tuesday is going to be even bigger this year than it was in the last presidential election four years ago.

Registered voters in Ohio will be able to vote in person at their county boards of elections beginning Tuesday morning, but many more are expected to vote absentee by mail.

As of Thursday, the Hamilton County Board of Elections had already received absentee ballot applications from 61,263 voters.

“They’ve been pouring in,’’ said Amy Searcy, director of the Hamilton County Board of Elections.

That’s almost equal the 61,852 Hamilton County voters who cast ballots either by mail or in person at the board of elections through the entire 35-day period of early voting in 2008.

That meant that, in 2008, slightly over one of every four voters – 27.5 percent – cast early ballots in Hamilton County.

As of early this week, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s office reported that about 273,000 absentee ballot applications had been received by the state’s 88 county boards of elections.

The boards of elections in all 88 counties will begin mailing out the absentee ballots on Tuesday.

Both the Obama and Romney campaigns, along with their allies, have been working feverishly to convince their supporters to vote early, thus locking down hundreds of thousands of votes long before the polls open on Nov. 6.

But one of the major factors in the spike in absentee ballot applications is the fact that Husted’s office mailed out an absentee ballot application to every of Ohio’s nearly 6 million registered voters. In the past, only a handful of the major urban counties – including Hamilton County – could afford to mail out absentee ballot applications.

Information on hours for in-person voting can be found on the county boards of elections websites or by calling the boards:

Hamilton County: (513) 632-7000, http://boe.hamilton-co.org

Warren County: (513) 695-1358, www.co.warren.oh.us/bdelec

Butler County: (513) 887-3700, www.butlercountyelections.org

Clermont County: (513) 732-7275, www.clermontelections.org