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Popularity of early voting in Ohio through the years

People take part in early voting in Columbus, Ohio, on Oct. 30. (/Eric Thayer/Reuters)

LIMA, Ohio – More than 30 percent of Ohio's registered voters are expected to vote early – and some observers believe the early tally could easily top 40 percent.

Early voting began in Ohio in early October and ends Monday, leading some here to call it "Election Month."

So how popular has the exercise become in the Buckeye State? Thanks to changes in election laws in the last eight years that eased the barriers of entry and expanded the number of early voting days, the rates have climbed impressively every four years.

Here in Allen County, which encompasses Lima (a city visited frequently by President Obama and Mitt Romney and their campaigns in recent months), at least 14,000 early votes will be cast either in person or by mail, according to Ken Terry, head of the county board of elections.

Consider these stats as provided by Terry:

2000: 4,000 absentee ballots cast
2004: About 6,000
2008: Approximately 11,500
2012: 12,933 as of Saturday morning.

Terry said a big surge is expected Sunday when Democrats institute their "Souls to the Polls" strategy of busing churchgoers to the early voting site in downtown Lima.

Ed O’Keefe is covering the 2016 presidential campaign, with a focus on Jeb Bush and other Republican candidates. He's covered presidential and congressional politics since 2008. Off the trail, he's covered Capitol Hill, federal agencies and the federal workforce, and spent a brief time covering the war in Iraq.



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