Voters queuing up to place first 2016 ballots Wednesday morning

Posted at 12:45 AM, Oct 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-12 08:10:10-04

CINCINNATI -- Peter Stackpole is in this election for the long haul.

The Hamilton County judicial candidate camped out in front of the Hamilton County Board of Elections Tuesday night so he could be among the first county residents to cast a ballot in the 2016 general election Wednesday morning.

Although not everyone was willing to spend the night sleeping on an air mattress to make their voice heard, the small hours of Tuesday and Wednesday brought out first-time voters, lifelong political devotees and a busload of UC students who dropped off their voter registration forms before midnight.

"For me, it’s like, why wait in line in the polls?" said Aditya Roy-Chaudhury, one of those UC students. "It doesn’t make sense."

Sherry Poland, the director of the Hamilton County Board of Elections, said voters in Ohio do not need a special justification to vote early or by mail. (In Kentucky, on the other hand, only people who have physical disabilities, are living outside of the state or are incarcerated may place such a vote.) More than 76,000 people have already requested an absentee ballot for this November’s election.

“It’s typical for a presidential year," Poland said. "We always seem to see a spike in registration in presidential years, and this year is no exception to that."

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And this year’s presidential race is more heated than most; both Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump inspire strong reactions from American voters — and will likely inspire strong voter turnout in November. The Bulter County Board of Elections reported historic highs for absentee and vote-by-mail requests Tuesday.

Eighteen-year-old Bryan Chalk said Tuesday he, too, felt passionately about his vote early in his first-ever election.

“It’s kind of important to me," he said. “It’s my first time. And I feel good about it."

Early voters can cast their ballot in person at the Hamilton County board of elections until Nov. 7, the day before Election Day. Any registered voter in Hamilton County may vote early or absentee.