COLUMBUS (WCMH) –Thousands of Ohio voters took advantage of the beautiful weather Wednesday and turned out to cast ballots on the first day of early voting.
In Franklin County, more than 2,400 people voted in person at the early voting center on Morse Rd.
David Payne, deputy director of the Franklin County Board of Elections, said about 144,000 absentee ballots were mailed out to voters who have requested them. Payne said more and more Ohioans are voting early.
“Probably 45 percent of the electorate now here in Franklin County is choosing to vote early whether it’s absentee ballot or our early vote center,” he said.
With so many people voting early or by absentee ballot, the Board of Elections takes several steps to protect against falsification or fraud.
“It’s very rare that we see these types of incidences of voter fraud, registration fraud, efforts to try to vote absentee and vote at the polls,” said Ed Leonard, the director of the Board of Elections.
If you vote in person, you’re required to bring ID with you to the polls. Otherwise, you’ll have to prove who you are a different way.
“When they vote by absentee or early by mail, they’ve got to provide either a driver’s license number or they have to provide the last four digits of their Social Security number,” Leonard said.
People who vote early or by absentee ballot will be flagged in the poll books, to ensure they don’t show up to vote at a precinct on Election Day. If someone who is flagged shows up to vote anyway and says he or she has not voted, he or she can cast a provisional ballot.
“We will accept it but we won’t count it until we’ve verified that the person has not, in fact, voted in another county or voted somewhere else in Franklin County,” Leonard said.
Leonard said the Board of Elections works with the Ohio Secretary of State to find duplicate registrations by checking names, addresses, driver’s license numbers and social security numbers. He said it’s easier to do that across counties in Ohio or within Franklin County, rather than to find someone registered in two different states.
Still, voters can help by notifying the Board of Elections if they believe there’s a problem.
“They know the house across the street is actually vacant and they know somebody’s registered to vote at that house, that type of thing,” Leonard said.
If and when the Board of Elections finds fraud, it does an internal investigation before referring it to the Franklin County Prosecutor’s office. Voter fraud is a felony in the fifth degree, punishable by a year in jail and a fine of $2,500.