A line had formed outside the Hamilton County Board of Elections by the time early voting began Tuesday morning. By 11 a.m., over 1,100 votes had been counted in a record-setting start to one of the most unusual elections in recent memory.
“We are off to a great start,” said Hamilton County Board of Elections head Sherry Pollard.
She hasn’t seen a first-day turnout like this in any presidential election before, she added.
Many voters came before work; others, like Maria Turner, stopped by on their lunch breaks. Despite the high turnout and the added safety steps to protect participants from COVID-19 risks, Turner said she was surprised by how quickly she was able to cast her vote.
“I didn’t want to be in the rush next month, so this is the best way to do it,” she said. “My mom and I have been doing this for the last few years.”
Poland said election workers have taken care not to sacrifice safety for speed.
“All of our staff are wearing masks,” she said. “We have tabletop shields. We have masks to offer voters if they forget to bring theirs. (We have) plenty of hand sanitizer. We have staff assigned specifically to clean each voting booth after use.”
Turner said she was happy to see the extra steps being taken. So was fellow early voter Freda Mason, who encouraged other voters to show up and know they would be safe.
“Everything is clean,” Mason said. “They have hand sanitizer. They got gloves and everything for you here, so vote!”
Early voting will be open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday for the next two weeks. In late October, voters will also be able to cast their ballots on weekends.