Ohio voter turnout for the 2018 midterm election was the highest the state has seen for a midterm in more than 20 years. According to the Ohio Secretary of State’s office, more than 4.3 million ballots were cast. That comes out to 54.4 percent total voter turnout.
Early voting was also much higher than in yeas past. The number of people who cast ballots prior to November 6 was 61 percent higher than in 2014.
Here’s what you need to know.
Early Voting Numbers Have Far Surpassed Previous Midterm Elections
More than 8 million people were registered to vote in Ohio this election cycle. Secretary of State Jon Husted released the final early voting numbers on Monday, November 5. The office revealed that more than 1.3 million ballots were cast between October 10 and November 5. That’s more than 16 percent of all the voters in the state.
Here’s how the numbers break down: 429,521 voters cast absentee votes in-person, meaning they voted at their county board of elections. An additional 884,323 voters returned their ballots in the mail. That adds up to 1,313,844 total early votes statewide.
To compare to early voting in previous midterm elections:
2014: 846,562 total absentee ballots were cast
2010: 1,033,350 total absentee ballots were cast
This year, the largest number of early ballots were cast in Franklin, Cuyahoga and Hamilton Counties — where Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati are located. Montgomery County, which includes the Dayton area, and Summit County, which includes Akron, were next on the list in terms of ballots cast early. You can find the full spreadsheet here.
Cuyahoga County: 181,557
Franklin County: 149,956
Hamilton County: 85,391
Summit County: 58,613
Montgomery County: 53,592
Overall Turnout Was Expected to Be the Highest Ohio Had Seen For a Midterm, Percentage-Wise, Since 1994
Midterm elections historically attract fewer voters than elections where presidential candidates are on the ballot. To help put this into perspective: 71 percent of registered Ohio voters cast ballots in the 2016 election. In 2012, it was 70.5 percent.
Back to midterm numbers: the last time voter turnout in Ohio exceeded 50 percent was in 2006 (it was 53 percent that year). Over the past 35 years, Ohio voters showed up in the largest numbers during the 1990 and 1994 midterms. In 1990, 61 percent of registered voters cast ballots. In 1994, 57 percent showed up at the polls.
Here’s an interesting caveat to these numbers: the number of registered numbers in the state has also gone way up compared to the early 1990s. In 1990, Ohio had just under 6 million registered voters. So at 61 percent turnout, that meant 3.6 million showed up.
Fast forward to November 6, 2018: it was initially predicted that as many as 4.6 million people would cast ballots. Political strategist Mike Dawson, who runs OhioElectionResults.com, told the Springfield News Sun that based on the high number of absentee ballots turned in, he was anticipating total voter turnout of of 57 percent.