New Law Eases Way for Early Balloting in Key Swing State
By AMY MERRICK
CLEVELAND -- With the credit crisis roiling Washington, Wall Street and the presidential campaign, voters in the key battleground state of Ohio cast their first ballots amid a controversy over the state's election procedures.
Hundreds of thousands of residents -- including vanloads of homeless voters shuttled to polling places by advocacy groups -- are expected to cast ballots before Election Day. This year, Ohio voters can cast an absentee ballot without having to cite a specific reason for voting early, which had limited the practice in past presidential elections. More than 30 states now allow early in-person voting without requiring voters to give a reason.In Ohio, the recent change in the early-voting law has moved up the timetable for intense campaigning. Twenty electoral votes are in play in the state, and the campaigns of both Republican Sen. John McCain and Democratic Sen. Barack Obama are encouraging their supporters to vote as soon as possible.
Residents are being bombarded by campaign television ads, and Republican officials are using mailings and phone calls to encourage supporters to vote early.
Sen. Obama's campaign brought singer John Legend to college campuses Monday for early-voting rallies. In Franklin County, which includes Columbus, volunteers for Sen. Obama pitched tents and waited all night outside the polling place so they could be among the first to vote.