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0000017a-3b40-d913-abfe-bf44a4f90000Howard Wilkinson joined the WVXU news team as the politics reporter and columnist in April 2012 , after 30 years of covering local, state and national politics for The Cincinnati Enquirer. On this page, you will find his weekly column, Politically Speaking; the Monday morning political chats with News Director Maryanne Zeleznik and other news coverage by Wilkinson. A native of Dayton, Ohio, Wilkinson has covered every Ohio gubernatorial race since 1974, as well as 16 presidential nominating conventions. Along with politics, Wilkinson also covered the 2001 Cincinnati race riots, the Lucasville prison riot in 1993, the Air Canada plane crash at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in 1983, and the 1997 Ohio River flooding. And, given his passion for baseball, you might even find some stories about the Cincinnati Reds here from time to time.

Ohio's Primary Begins Wednesday With Start Of Early Voting

Wednesday marks the first of 27 days of early voting before Ohio's March 15th primary election.

Ohio's 88 county boards of elections can begin mailing out absentee ballots to those who have applied for them; and voters can cast ballots at specific times at board of election offices.

Because this is a presidential primary election for both Republicans and Democrats, election officials like Sherry Poland, Hamilton County's elections director, are preparing for large numbers of early voters.

“We’re sort of basing the turnout on the model of the March 2008 primary,’’ Poland said. “At that time, we received approximately 50,000 absentee requests with about 43,000 of those actually returned and counted.”

In 2008, a hotly-contested Democratic presidential primary in Ohio between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton was the driving force behind the large number of early voters.

Election officials expect the numbers of early voters will increase substantially in the November general election.

Applications for absentee ballot can be downloaded from the web sites of county boards of elections. The hours for in-person early voting are also at county board web sites. The Ohio Secretary of State’s web sitehas links to all 88 county boards of elections and general information on how to cast an early ballot. 

As for in-person early voting, the hours are uniform in all 88 counties. Poland said the early in-person voting begins at 8 a.m. Wednesday. Ohio’s in-person early voting will end at 2 p.m. on Monday, March 14.

Howard Wilkinson is in his 50th year of covering politics on the local, state and national levels.