Absentee ballots play smaller role in 2013 election

Samara Sands

This year’s election drew a much lower number of absentee ballots compared to the 2012 elections.

Bradley Cromes, deputy director of the Portage County Board of Elections, said there was a total of 3,255 absentee ballots given out this year. Of those 3,255 ballots, Cromes and his team received back a total of 2,980 as of Monday.

Compared to this year, Cromes said the number of absentee ballots in the 2012 Elections were almost 20,000, making the total of absentee ballot votes about 20 percent of all votes.

“Typically, we see higher participation rate of absentee voting in the larger turnout elections,” he said. “This year, we’re looking at about 10 to 15 percent—and that’s at the high end.”

Daniel Hawes, assistant professor of political science at Kent State, said not only are there a lot more voters in a presidential election, but there are also a lot more early and absentee voters because of the amount of attention given to the national elections.

“In the off-years, we really don’t even start thinking or talking about it until a week or two before the election,” he said. “In the presidential election, we’re thinking and talking about it for at least a year in advance.”

Hawes said that the inconvenience of standing in long lines might also drive people to vote early for the presidential elections.

Cromes said the number of absentee ballots will probably go up after the department receives them throughout the 10 day period after Election Day.

Hawes said that there are several reasons why people may choose to vote early, and probably the primary reason is convenience.

“It can fit in to their schedule if they’re working the day of the regular election,” he said. “Most often it’s for voters who are already very sure and confident in the way that they’re going to vote. They tend to be more partisan voters, and they’ve all ready made up their mind.”

Hawes said he thinks early voting has become more popular throughout the years because some of the voting laws have made it easier to do so for most states.

“Years ago, the laws for voting were much more stringent,” he said. “Many states have laws that make it easier for early or absentee voting.”

Contact Samara Sands at [email protected].