Ohio official: Almost 70,000 votes cast ahead of primary

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Ohio Voting_145864

Signs indicate a Franklin County, Ohio, early voting center in Columbus, Ohio., Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016. Wednesday is the first day that Ohio residents can vote for candidates in the swing state’s March 15 primary contests, either by mail or in person without giving any reason. (AP Photo/Julie Carr Smyth)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio’s elections chief says nearly 70,000 votes have been cast ahead of the swing state’s March 15 primary contests.

Registered voters in Ohio can cast ballots by mail or in person before Election Day without giving any reason.

Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted says an informal survey of county elections boards on Friday shows almost 239,000 absentee ballot applications have been received statewide. His office says 118,542 requested Republican ballots and 111,712 request Democratic ones. Others requested Green Party or issues-only ballots.

Ohio voters will have the chance to help decide races for their party’s presidential nominee. The primary contests also include congressional contenders and a number of local candidates.

Voters in 82 of the state’s 88 counties will help decide the outcome of 465 local issues.

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