Bliss Institute report examines Ohio early voting phenomenon


Dr. John Green

Early voting has become increasingly prevalent in Ohio since 2006, with more than 25 percent of voters casting their ballots early in the 2010 election, according to "A Study of Early Voting in Ohio Elections," a report released by The University of Akron’s Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics.

"The report uncovers not only who is voting early, but why," says John Green, Bliss Institute director and distinguished professor of political science. "Convenience and accessibility to the polls topped the list of reasons why voters cast their ballots early."

Women lead majority among early voters

In terms of demographics, early voters were more likely than election-day voters to be women (62.1 percent). Education, which is strongly associated with voter turnout of all kinds, proved to be a factor in early voting. Early voters are most common at the middle-level of educational attainment (some training beyond high school, but not a college degree), while election-day voters tended to be college educated. Neither race nor ethnicity was associated significantly with early voting, and religion showed only a modest relationship. The report also reveals a geographic pattern to early voting, with central and northeastern Ohio (notably the Columbus and Cleveland areas) posting higher numbers of early voters.

About The University of Akron

The University of Akron is the public research university for Northeast Ohio. The Princeton Review listed UA among the “Best in the Midwest” in its 2011 edition of Best Colleges: Region-by-Region. Approximately 29,300 students are enrolled in UA’s 300 associate, bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate and law degree programs and 100 certificate programs at sites in Summit, Wayne, Medina and Holmes counties. For more information, visit The University of Akron.

According the report, in 2006 and 2010, election-day voters favored Republican candidates, while early voters favored Democratic candidates. For example, in the 2010 Ohio gubernatorial race, Republican John Kasich won the election-day vote with 51.4 percent, while Democrat Ted Strickland won the early vote with 52.8 percent.

Trend expected to impact political campaigns

"In the 2010 election, more than 1.1 million Ohio voters took advantage of early voting, which has been gaining popularity steadily since 'no fault absentee' voting was instituted in Ohio in 2006," says Green. "This trend surely will have an effect on the structure of political campaigns."

The full report, which was created using results of the Akron Buckeye survey (conducted by the Center for Marketing and Opinion Research of Akron, Ohio for the Bliss Institute following the 2010 election) and official election data from the Ohio Secretary of State, is available at the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics.

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