OH emerges for explosive early vote

Early ballot numbers indicate a nearly threefold jump in early voting this week

By Mo Juenger, World News Editor
Photo courtesy of flickr.com
Xavier students weighed in on why Hamilton County’s early voting numbers have been abnormally higher than in the 2016 election. Many believe that it’s linked to the recent pandemic, partisanship and political awareness.

Early voters are participating in droves, shattering previous records for voting before Election Day. 

Hamilton County voters broke their prior record of 2,096 voters on Nov. 4, 2016 — four days before the election. This Monday, eight days before the 2020 election, 4,607 people voted early and in-person at the Board of Elections. 

Within the first week of early voting in 2016, an average of 816 Hamilton County residents voted early and in-person. In 2020, from Oct. 6 to Oct. 13, an average of 2,710 people voted daily. In the second week of 2016 early voting, the average was 691; in 2020, it was 2,861. In the third week, an average of 1,166 Hamilton County residents voted daily in 2016. That number jumped to 2,334 in 2020. 

The final eight days of early voting before the election have historically had the highest turnout within the county, with an average of 1,647 citizens voting daily in 2016. On only the first day of early and in-person voting in 2020, turnout nearly tripled that of four years ago. 

Many Xavier students believe that public health concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic have spurred more Hamilton County residents to cast their votes early. 

“We’re all affected by the pandemic, and it’s a lot easier and safer for people to go at a time when it’s not crowded and they’re not waiting in insanely long lines or having to cram into a high school gymnasium or something like that where people go to vote,” President of College Democrats Peter Korchak said. 

“COVID encourages this behavior… Instead of your typical Election Day rush to voting centers, (voters) want to space out,” grad student in customer analytics Ahnas Alzahabi said. 

Students also noted the gravity and controversy surrounding this election, noting that deeper understanding of policy might encourage early voters. 

“People recognize the power of their votes. Maybe in 2016, they didn’t really expect the results to be what they were — and now they want to change that,” Alzahabi said. 

“I think that the high numbers are really representative of people taking this election seriously and making sure that they have a plan ready to go so that nothing stops them from… participating in the election,” Korchak added. 

“I think the stakes are a lot higher this year than they have been maybe in years past. People are much more in tune with what’s going on,” President of College Republicans Isabella Prolizo noted. “We’ve seen a lot of social media buzz about elections, especially at the top of the ticket.” 

Prolizo added that while policy standpoints and other information about the presidential candidates have been highly publicized, other local races might further incentivize Hamilton County residents to vote early. 

“People are… paying more attention to the sheriff’s race or the prosecutor’s race given the Black Lives Matter movement or a lot of the movements over the summer,” Prolizo said. 

She also expressed concern that while these local races garnered attention, other local races — such as the county commissioner or treasurer — were often largely overlooked. 

Other students noted that partisan politics might play a hand in the significant rise in early voters. This aligns with statistics from Hamilton County’s records, which show that registered Democrats were the county’s most populous early voting group in the first week. 

In Week 1, 21,731 Democrats voted early, as opposed to 15,061 non-partisan and 6,370 Republican early voters. However, non-partisan voters eclipsed Democrat numbers in Week 2, with 33,811 non-partisan, 28,245 Democrat and 12,393 Republican early voters. In Week 3, non-partisans remained the largest bloc, with 35,004 non-partisans, 16,862 Democrats and 8,874 Republicans voting early and in-person. 

“A lot of times it’s people on the left side of the spectrum that really understand that it’s difficult in some instances for people to vote, people in different communities who are depending on some sort of identification that they’re able to have,” Korchak said of the early spike in Democratic early voting. 

“They acknowledge that there are challenges and obstacles to voting, it makes more sense to have a plan early,” he added in regards to early voting Democrats. 

“People are more passionate about the issues, and people are seeing what President Trump has done in the past four years,” sophomore biology major Eshika Kohli said.