Early voting

As West Virginia’s special election for governor was held Tuesday, voters in the Buckeye State began casting ballots, too.

Ohio is one of 32 states that allow any voter to cast an early ballot by mail or in person, and many people take advantage of the convenience. Early voting for the Nov. 8 general election began Tuesday statewide.

Many changes in the nation’s voting system have taken place in recent years. The close finish in the 2000 presidential election put George W. Bush over then Vice President Al Gore in the race, despite the fact that Gore garnered more popular votes. A recount of the votes in Florida – complete with controversy over “dangling chads” on the antiquated punch-card ballots – gave Bush enough electoral votes to claim the victory.

Since then, many tweaks have come about in the voting game across the nation. Ohio was subsequently required to establish electronic voting. Today, voters have several different options to cast their ballots, and early voting seems to be the growing trend among voters.

These efforts make the voting process more efficient, more reliable and more convenient for the voters. The ultimate goal is to get as many registered voters as possible to participate in the process.

Absentee ballots became available to anyone in Ohio in 2006. Because of the new law, there are truly few excuses, if any, for someone who does not exercise their right to vote.

Many people particularly like the convenience of early voting, because they can sit down in the comfort of their own homes and digest the often wordy language of the ballot issues. They can take their time and make a more informed decision.

More than 1 million voters in Ohio took advantage of early voting in 2010. Studies show that around 25 percent of registered voters in the state now practice early voting, and the number is growing.

So there are no excuses. Voters are encouraged to know the issues, then get out and vote.