Republicans have insisted that public polling has not captured the enthusiasm of their own early voters and that they will take advantage of the final vote weekend as well.
“We have been saying for months that we are prepared to match the Obama campaign volunteer for volunteer, door-knock for door-knock and phone call for phone call through Election Day. That remains the case in the final 72 hours,” said Romney Ohio spokesman Chris Maloney.
By Saturday, voting in Republican-leaning Allen County in northwest Ohio had already surpassed its early-vote totals from 2008. Just shy of 13,000 voters had cast early ballots in person or by mail, and local officials expected the numbers would easily pass 14,000 by the end of Monday.
Bob and Connie Warniment drove 15 minutes from nearby Delphos to cast ballots for the Republican nominee Saturday after their daughter encouraged them to vote early so they could get to their cabin in Michigan a few days before they had planned.
“The working people might go for that option because the lines are long and they might have to get up earlier to vote,” Connie Warniment said.
But here, too, there were signs of an aggressive Democratic get-out-the-vote effort, including Obama voters who had already cast their ballots but had returned at the campaign’s urging with friends or family Saturday.
In 2008, Obama won Ohio in part by driving up Democratic turnout in counties that were still won by Sen. John McCain. In Allen, for instance, Obama got 3,000 more votes than Sen. John F. Kerry did four years earlier, in a county where 50,000 people voted.
The tangling over how and when to count ballots in Ohio isn’t over. Late Friday, Republican Secretary of State John Husted issued a new directive outlining information that must be included on the outside of a provisional ballot — directing election boards not to count a ballot if a section of the form that’s supposed to be filled out by poll workers is empty.
Lawyers with the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless have already challenged the new directive in federal court, in an issue that could become relevant if the Ohio contest is tight.
O’Keefe reported from Lima, Ohio.