You Decide: Early Voting Begins in Ohio

CLEVELAND — Early voting begins in Ohio today with only five weeks until the election.

Dozens camped outside the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections Tuesday morning, while others opted to fill out an absentee ballot at home.

The Nina Turner-led group “Sleep Out the Vote” wanted to send a message on Euclid Avenue. The Democratic state senator says pitching a tent overnight is all about drawing attention to the election and motivating people who vote.

In 2008, President Barack Obama’s campaign benefited greatly from early voting. But the Mitt Romney camp’s is pushing for Republicans to catch up. There are a number of Commit-to-Mitt rallies across the state today as well.

Several local officials met at the Cuyahoga County BOE to cast their early votes for President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.  U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, Warrensville Heights Mayor Brad Sellers, State Senator Nina Turner and Ward 1 Cleveland City Councilman Terrell Pruitt were joined by special guest, Craig Robinson, the brother of U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama.

Across town, in Fairview Park, supporters of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his vice president hopeful Paul Ryan, kicked off early voting by casting their ballots for the Republican nominees.

Yet, a lot of people are still wary about this early voting thing or mailing their ballots instead of coming to the polls on election day.

Cuyahoga County Board of Elections Director Jane Platten wants to assure everyone there’s nothing to worry about. Your vote will count.

“We have a function on our website where you can put in your name and date of birth and it’ll tell you if we received your application by vote by mail. It’ll tell you when I mailed you, your vote by mail, and then when I received your ballot back. So folks can track it along the way to make sure the post office got your ballot back to us,” said Platten.

Monday, Ohio Secretary of State John Husted announced the state had received more than 922,000 absentee ballot applications. The state has mailed nearly 6.9 million applications to eligible voters overall.

*To download an absentee ballot application, go to www.MyOhioVote.com.