Polls in Ohio closed at 7:30 p.m. New York time, and vote-counting in the battleground state has begun, Secretary of State Jon Husted said.
“Soon we’ll learn the message that Ohioans sent today,” Husted said during a press conference at the Ohio statehouse, where some 250 Ohio, U.S., and international reporters are gathered to monitor the vote.
There were only typical Election-Day glitches and no major voting issues statewide, Husted spokesman Matt McClellan said.
Husted said the first vote totals out of Ohio tonight will primarily be absentee totals because that’s how he instructed each of the state’s 88 county boards of election to report them.
It will be the first indication of how effective the ground games of President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney were in the Buckeye State. Obama’s campaign had said before the election that Romney would need to get 55 percent of the vote cast on Election Day to overcome Obama’s early-vote advantage in Ohio.
There were 1.79 million absentee ballots cast in Ohio through Nov. 5, already the most in state history, Husted said. All early votes in Ohio are cast by absentee ballot, either by mail or in person. Any absentee ballots dropped off at county elections boards by the time polls close tonight or postmarked by Nov. 5 and received by Nov. 16 will be counted.
In 2008, there were 1.74 million absentee ballots cast and 1.71 million counted in Ohio, or 30 percent of the 5.77 million votes cast in an election Obama won with 51.5 percent of the vote, according to state elections records.