LISBON - Finally, the day has arrived.
Election day. The day when Americans perform their civic duty and elect their leaders.
It also is a day of reprieve. From the relentless recorded political phone calls. From those nasty television commercials. From those slim cardboard political mailings found every day in your mail box.
Truth be told, most of it probably will continue right up to the time the polls close at 7:30 p.m. today.
While most of the focus is always on the presidential race, voters today will also be deciding the outcome of numerous other races for national, state and county office, not to mention state and local ballot issues.
Interest is running high, if early voting is any indication. Approximately 9,877 county residents have taken advantage of Ohio's early-voting law by casting their ballots before election day. This eclipsed the old record of 7,851 early votes cast in the 2008 presidential election, which is the first year the law took effect.
The number could go higher because there are still 654 outstanding early ballots that have yet to be returned to the Columbiana County Board of Elections. They can still be counted if the ballots are postmarked no later than Nov. 6.
These early votes will be counted tomorrow along with those cast election day.
The elections board was open over the weekend for those voters who still wanted to vote early, and elections board Director Adam Booth said they were busy the entire time, especially on Sunday.
"At one o'clock Sunday you couldn't fit another person in the lobby," he said.
Of the 9,877 people who voted early so far, 2,725 did so in person at the board offices.
For what's worth, more registered Republicans voted early than Democrats - 2,579 to 1,944, a difference of about 25 percent. But the vast majority of early-voting requests - 6,088 - came from voters who call themselves independents.
The number of registered county voters for this election is 66,703, down from 70,068 in the 2008 presidential election. Booth is predicting about 70 percent of those voters will cast a ballot, the same as 2008.
The record for voter turnout since 1980 was 76 percent in 1992.
And what would a modern election be without some last-minute lawsuits. The latest one claims a voting system used in Ohio is vulnerable to being altered, although Booth does not believe it applies to the county.
The federal lawsuit filed Monday involves voting software and hardware systems manufactured by ES&S, which provides the paper ballot/optical scan system used by the county. Booth said the lawsuit appears to be over an uncertified ES&S system that is different than the one used in the county, which has been tested and approved by the state Board of Voting Machine Examiners.