WARREN - Voters in Trumbull and Mahoning counties took advantage of the first day of early, in-person voting in Ohio Tuesday, using the opportunity to vote now for president and other races rather than risk missing being able to vote on Election Day.
''We just wanted to get down here and get it done so something doesn't come up and we don't get it done,'' said Scott Moore of Warren, who with his wife, Melissa, cast their ballots at the Trumbull County Board of Elections.
It was the first time for them voting early.
There were lines of people waiting to vote at both locations, but elections officials and most people in line reported relatively short wait times and no problems once they got inside to cast a ballot.
Joyce Kale-Pesta, elections board director in Mahoning County, said aside from some minor first-day kinks, things ran smoothly. Sometime mid-day, shuttle service was made available for voters because parking became an issue at the Oakhill Renaissance Center, where the elections board is located.
''I put that into place when I saw how crazy, how busy it was getting,'' she said.
Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple
Josh Santangelo of Girard voted Tuesday at the Trumbull County Board of Elections.
She estimated that about 1,000 people voted. It took about 40 minutes to get through the line, she said.
''I'm very happy that people are voting,'' she said. ''I was sort of worried about the interest in this election, but after today, I see that people are interested. I want people to vote, it's my job.''
Trumbull County Elections Board director Kelly Pallante said there was a line, but her staff was able to handle everybody.
A total 545 people went to the counter Tuesday. Of those, 21 left with their ballots. The other 524 cast their votes, Pallente said.
Mary Ann Stamp of Warren said the wait was ''worth it because it's our freedom, it's our right,'' she said.
''It's two hours that I could have been sitting on my butt watching TV and not paying attention,'' Stamp said.
Stamp said her father taught her and her eight siblings early about the importance of voting, that ''if you don't vote, you shouldn't say anything about what is happening in the world.''
The Moores and Stamp said they voted for President Barack Obama.
Joshua Santangelo of Girard cast his ballot for Obama, too, saying he prefers the president's economic and tax policies.
It's expected in the battleground state of Ohio that about 30 percent of voters will vote early, either in-person or by mail, and that's not lost on campaigns.
In Mahoning County, several Democrats slept overnight at the board of elections to be the first to vote for Obama, and other Democrats and Republicans held an early morning event to encourage their members to support GOP nominee Mitt Romney.
In the 2008 presidential election, early voting accounted for 23 percent of the 73 percent turnout in Trumbull County. In Mahoning County, it was 32 percent of the 72 percent turnout.
No-fault early voting began in Ohio in 2006.