Does early voting help or hurt voter turnout?

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Since 2006, Ohio voters have had the opportunity to vote by absentee ballots without giving a reason why.

This not only allows more people to vote via absentee but people can also vote in person 35 days before Election Day and by mail.

The Hamilton County Board of Elections is now open for voters and assisting voters from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

"[Early voting] has been steadily increasing every year so many people are taking advantage of the fact and we're happy about that," says Amy Searcy, deputy director of the Hamilton County Board of Elections.

But does the extra time equal extra voters? "I don't necessarily know if it means more people are voting but it means that more people have access to early voting," says Searcy.

FOX 19 requested voter turnout numbers for the last three elections from 2008-2010. In the last two non-presidential elections, 2009 and 2010 there has been an increase in early ballots but the overall voter turnout percentage stayed the same.

Early voters like Paul Graham say the easy access should attract more people to the polls.

"I hope it should help because it gives everybody a chance to go and vote. There's no excuses, it cuts down on the lines one Election Day which can get really busy," says Graham.

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