The rope divider has been ready outside the Summit County Board of Elections since the start of the early voting period.

So far, though, no voters have stood in it.

That could change this weekend and Monday, the final days for in-person absentee voting that traditionally draw a large number of voters.

Joe Masich, the Summit board’s director, said in-person early voting for the Nov. 4 election has been down compared to the last gubernatorial election in 2010, though the number of mail-in absentee requests is higher. He is predicting the number of absentee voters in the county will be about the same as four years ago when about 42,000 people cast early ballots.

“The difference is how many people are coming here to vote as opposed to mail,” Masich said, noting that Secretary of State Jon Husted mailed absentee ballot applications to all registered voters this year, a step that wasn’t taken in 2010.

For those who want to vote before Election Day, the window of opportunity is rapidly closing, with in-person early voting offered through Monday and the deadlines approaching for requesting ballots by mail and returning them to county elections boards.

“If they’re going to return it, they’d better get on it,” Masich said.

So far in Summit County, nearly 40,000 voters have requested absentee ballots, with about 92 percent made via mail and the remainder at the elections board. This compares to 2010 when about 72 percent of absentee voting was done through mail and the rest in person.

Statewide, about 810,000 people have requested absentee ballots, compared to about 1.1 million in 2010. Of the 810,000, the vast majority, or about 775,000, mailed in their requests, with the rest voting in person. In 2010, about 855,000 of the 1 million people who voted early did so through mail, with the rest voting in person, according to Matt McClellan, a spokesman for Husted’s office.

McClellan is predicting an overall low turnout for the election caused by a not-very-competitive gubernatorial race and the lack of a statewide ballot issue or a U.S. Senate race. He declined, though, to guess a turnout figure.

“Turnout will be lower,” he said. “I can’t say what the number will be.”

Among the Summit County residents who have so far requested absentee ballots, the majority have come from nonaffiliated voters, followed by Democrats, Republicans and third-party voters. Compared to 2010, requests are already up for Republicans and so far down for nonaffiliated, Democratic and third-party voters, according to statistics on the Summit County elections board’s website.

During Thursday’s lunch hour at the Summit County elections board, voting was steady, without any long lines and with voters casting their ballots in 10 to 20 minutes.

Barbara Dean-Thomas of Akron said she likes to vote early to avoid the lines that sometimes occur on Election Day.

“I don’t want to wait for the day-of crowds,” she said. “It’s much easier to go in and come right back out.”

Ron Buzzelli of Cuyahoga Falls also votes early for the convenience. Besides getting his voting out of the way, he drops off his 93-year-old mother’s absentee ballot so she can avoid paying the postage to send it back.

Buzzelli said he voted early in the presidential election, while his wife didn’t. He had no wait, while she did. This year, he said she is again voting on Election Day. He voted in about 10 minutes and is curious to see if she has a longer wait.

“It takes the pressure off voting day,” Buzzelli said.

Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705 or swarsmith@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow on Twitter: @swarsmithabj and on Facebook: www.facebook.com/swarsmith. Read the Beacon Journal’s political blog at www.ohio.com/blogs/ohio-politics.