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Hundreds head to Cuyahoga County Board of Elections to cast ballots on first day of Ohio's early voting

By noon, nearly 800 people had cast in-person ballots at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections.

CLEVELAND — As the sun rose on Tuesday morning, a line of people had already formed outside the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections as early voting began in Ohio

By noon, the Board of Elections reported that 796 people had cast in-person ballots. 

Barbara Porzio is one of the hundreds of people who decided to vote early in person on Tuesday.

“We got here pretty early and the line was really long even then,” says Porzio.

3News spoke with several voters including a college student named Vanita Bilal voting for the first time.

“I know that my vote is important, and if I don’t vote then my voice isn’t heard,” says Bilal.

3News also spoke with a senior citizen named Bill Swain who said he last voted 52 years ago in 1968.

“I stopped voting because I saw that anybody who gets in, they do the same thing,” says Swain.

Regardless of party, a consistent message we heard is the importance of voting early if you’re registered.

“You’re a part of a bigger unit. That’s why your vote matters. We’re all pieces of a puzzle connected to a bigger picture,” says Bilal.

A bigger picture that impacts every single American.

“This election is going to determine so much of what our country looks like going forward I was worried about voting on Election Day, so I wanted to be here today,” says Porzio

In-person early voting looks different with people in face masks, social distancing in line, and shower curtain like plastic dividers in the voting area.

“I’m just very excited to finally voice my opinion after 19 years,” says Bilal.

Early voting hours are listed below:

  • Oct. 6-16 (weekdays only): 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.
  • Oct. 19-23: 8 a.m. until 6 p.m.
  • Saturday, Oct. 24: 8 a.m. until 4 p.m.
  • Sunday, Oct. 25 from 1-5 p.m.
  • Oct. 26-30: 8 a.m. until 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, Oct. 31: 8 a.m. until 4 p.m.
  • Sunday, Nov. 1: 1-5 p.m.
  • Monday, Nov. 2: 8 a.m. until 2 p.m.

The steady stream of people taking advantage of early voting comes on the same day as an unprecedented number of absentee ballots are being sent to voters. A staggering 2 million absentee ballots are being mailed to voters -- more than twice the number in 2016, and many may not have voted by absentee ballot before. 

If you are using an absentee ballot, you need to follow several steps very closely in order to make sure your vote counts. According to the Cuyahoga Board of Elections, once you receive your absentee ballot, inspect it for any marks or tears. Contact your local BOE if you need to request a replacement for a damaged ballot.

An 8 a.m. press conference was hosted outside of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections on Tuesday, which we streamed in the player below:

RELATED: VOTER GUIDE | Everything you need to know about Ohio's 2020 election from important dates to finding your polling place