Considered a bellwether county in a battleground state, Stark County typically mirrors the outcome nationwide, with Barack Obama carrying the county in 2008 and 2012, and voters here helping elect Donald Trump in 2016.
It is also a county where there has been an enormous turnout with about 1,300 people per day casting ballots since early voting began.
“This is where the action is,” said Travis Seacrest, an administrative assistant for the Stark County Board of Elections. “We have a lot of people coming through the front door to vote early, people dropping off their ballots. We are getting ready to get all the polling locations ready so there’s a lot going on.”
Outside the board of elections, there’s enthusiasm for both presidential candidates.
“We feel it’s tight here. We feel also that we have a good shot at winning Stark County. We believe if we win Stark County, Joe Biden will win Ohio,” said Mary Beth Medford, of Action Together Stark.
But among people campaigning for President Trump, the feeling is much the same.
“We’ve had people bring us lunch, we’ve had people bring us hot chocolate. It’s just enormous the support for standing out here for our president. It’s from all backgrounds, all genders, all races,” said Doug Wright, organizer of a curbside Trump rally outside the board of elections headquarters.
Stark County’s importance is not lost on early voters. Many of them see the county as a cross-section of America.
“I just think it’s representative of our country, you know. It’s hard-working people that I don’t think there’s any Wall Street billionaires around here and there’s also not a lot of extreme poverty,” said Brian Roach, of Uniontown.
“There’s great diversity in Stark County. There’s every race, nationality, type of religion in Stark County,” said Jesse Butler, of Canton.
“It’s obviously a presidential year. I mean, we always have larger turnouts in presidential years. And we have seen an increase in early voting, whether that’s due to excitement for early voting, wanting to get their vote in or concerns with the pandemic,” said Seacrest, explaining that the board of elections also is aware of the importance of getting everything right and they are prepared for the crowds.
“Come in, make your voice heard at the voting booth and then be proud of that voice,” he said.