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WKSU is looking for the answers to the questions you have about Ohio in a project we call "OH Really?" It's an initiative that makes you part of the news gathering process.

From 18 to 87, Summit County Voters Sound Off. OH Really?

Joe Nanashee, 87, has been at the Summit County Board of Elections handing out campaign literature -- rain or shine -- since the first day of early voting on October 6.
Jon Nungesser
Joe Nanashee, 87, has been at the Summit County Board of Elections handing out campaign literature -- rain or shine -- since the first day of early voting on October 6.

The record number of early voters in Ohio does not include people who will be turning 18 just after this year’s election.

As part of WKSU’s “OH Really?” reporting initiative, we received a listener question about how those young people feel.

James Tong from Hudson is among them. He turns 18 later this month and already plans to register to vote. And one of the reasons he wishes he could cast a ballot in this election is due to the coronavirus.

“Seeing the epidemic going on right now, I feel like the government has a big role to play with how they handle this," Tong said. "In all honestly, I feel like if more people were able to vote-- or more people voted in general -- it might have a better impact on the epidemic one way or another, if the president changes – or other government leaders change – and how they handle this.”

Barely legal
But on this side of the election, Arjun Joy from Copley turned 18 on Saturday. He voted early at the Summit County Board of Elections, and says he watched the two presidential debates to help him decide who should be president. And he has a message for people who think their vote doesn’t count.

“In the 2000 election -- between George W. Bush and Al Gore -- that 500-person-vote in Florida made a big difference. So, who knows? You could be one of those 500 people who could change the outcome. I think it’s good to present your voice even when you’re just one person.”

Joy was among several young people at the polls casting ballots for the first time over the weekend. Many of them cited the nation’s response to climate change -- and the handling of the coronavirus pandemic – as reasons why they wanted to be sure to vote this year.

But Samantha May from Twinsburg feels things have gone well this year. She's mostly concerned with the economy, and agreed with her Mother, Cheryl, that she’s voting due to her conservative values. They're concerned about religious discrimination, citing church closings related to the coronavirus. State leaders never closed churches during the pandemic, but many voluntarily halted in-person services to keep worshippers safe and prevent spread of the coronavirus.

'I fought for this'
At the parking lot entrance in Summit County, 87-year-old Joe Nanashee has been handing out campaign literature and other information outside of the 100-foot neutral zone measured from the entrance to the polling place.

This entire month, he’s been giving sample Democratic ballots to people. The retired nuclear engineer from Akron says he does it because he wants everyone to vote.

“I fought for it," Nanashee, who served in the Korean War, said. "I have to do this. It’s necessary. I do it every election. The America that I knew when I was a kid is not here anymore, and I’d like to see it come back.”

The Board of Elections is open for early voting from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Monday. After that, you can vote on Election Day from 6:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. – either at a Board of Elections or your precinct polling place.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.