In an election year marked by enthusiasm across the political spectrum, the number of new voters in Ohio is actually down when compared to the last presidential election.
According to the secretary of state office, Ohio has seen a little more than 447,000 newly registered voters in 2008. As of Oct. 1, 2004, that number was around 675,000.
Scott McClelland, spokesperson for the Ohio Republican Party, said voter registration has remained high since 2004, and it is difficult to create any more surges in voter registration.
“Ohio’s voting age population is pretty well saturated as far as registration,” McClelland said.
Reggie Johnson, regional communications director for Southwest Ohio for the Obama campaign, said each vote will make a difference.
“The election was decided by a fraction of that number last time,” Johnson said. “A fraction is the difference between winning and losing.”
McClelland said the Ohio GOP is often portrayed as discouraging voter registration, but said that there is actually no merit to the claim.
“It’s a tactic that our friends on the other side like to use to fire up their people,” McClelland said.
However, Johnson pointed to a recent lawsuit the Ohio Republican party brought against the secretary of state in an effort to stop voters from registering and voting at the same time.
Because voters are allowed to register up to 30 days before an election and early voting began 35 days prior to the election, there was a five-day window where residents could register and vote in the same day.
Though Republicans have argued that allowing same-day voting encourages voter fraud, state and federal district courts ruled in favor of same-day voting.
After the ruling, the Ohio Republican Party said they support and encourage voters to take advantage of the process.
“Look, anybody who is a qualified elector in the Ohio revised code, we have no problem with you or anybody who is qualified to vote to have that opportunity to vote,” McClelland said. “It’s part of our democratic process.”
In Butler County, a traditionally Republican district, registered Republicans outnumber Democrats two-to-one, though more than half of the 250,000 voters in the county are registered as independents.
“We’ve always been a Republican county, but in the March primary we had more Democrats vote than Republicans,” said Nancy Piper, deputy director of the Butler County Board of Elections.