The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

November 1, 2012

Sandy doesn’t deter area’s early voters

By MARK TODD - mtodd@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

JEFFERSON — Superstorm Sandy soaked a lot of things in Ashtabula County, but apparently didn’t dampen voters’ enthusiasm for next week general election.

Despite hazards posed by downed wires, fallen trees and power outages, dozens of people still trekked to Jefferson Tuesday for in-person voting at the county election board office.

“They came trudging in,” said Carol Lovas, director. “It surprised me a little bit, because it was so horrendous out.”

On Tuesday, 96 people shrugged off the worst of the storm to get a jump-start on their civic duty, Lovas said. On Monday, which was only a little less miserable weather-wise, 201 voters came to the board office to cast a ballot, she said.

“We were fortunate we didn’t lose power,” Lovas said. “That would’ve been a real hardship.”

Such determination in the face of adversity underscores voters’ need to have a say in next week’s election. Between in-person voting and absentee ballots received in the office, more than 10,400 people have already had their say, Lovas said. That’s nearly 16.5 percent of the 63,074 county residents who were eligible to vote in the March primary.

The number of early voters will only climb in the coming days, especially since the election board office will be open a limited number of hours over the weekend to accept ballots. A pared-down number of employees will be on hand, Lovas said.

Here are the election board’s in-person absentee voting hours:

• Today — 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

• Friday — 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

• Saturday — 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

• Sunday — 1-5 p.m.

• Monday — 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

In-office absentee voting ends at 2 p.m. Monday. Absentee voting by mail concludes at noon Saturday.

Cost of staffing the office on the weekend, plus the postage needed to mail ballots to people who requested them, will put a big hole in the election board’s budget, Lovas said.

“Postage alone has killed us,” she said. “We’re going to go back to the commissioners to ask for a little more money.”