DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Between October 5 and November 1, 377,399 voters cast their absentee ballot or voted early in Ohio, an 18 percent increase over the last comparable year which was 2019.

Secretary of State Frank LaRose said the uptick is because of interest in mayoral and school board races. “What matters as much as who lives in the White House is who works at the schoolhouse, or the courthouse or City Hall. These are the races that really impact us at the local neighborhood level,” he said.

According to the Montgomery County Board of Elections, more than 11,616 people have voted absentee, 7,263 voted by mail, and 4,144 voted in-person.

“I think we need more involvement in our community,” said Sandra Burkhart, a Montgomery County voter.

James Burkhart said, “We vote in every election because we love America, and people have died for the freedom to vote. It’s our privilege,” he said.

“We’ll say we want to express our opinions, and we want people to hear our voice and this is one way to get your voice out there by voting,” said Biff Howard, who lives in Dayton.

The Montgomery County BOE said they’re expecting a low, but average voter turnout.

“In municipal elections, you just don’t see the same turnout as you do with the presidential election but we’re on par right now to hit between 20-25 percent, said Sarah Greathouse, special projects coordinator for Montgomery County Board of Elections.

She said smaller elections often mean fewer voters, but they’re just as important as national elections.

“Every election is important here at the board of elections, but for voters, one of the reasons that municipal elections can be so important is because it influences what your children are being taught at school, your local tax rate,” she said.