Nearly 70,000 early votes cast in Ohio

That number will go much higher; the state's Boards of Elections have received 239,000 absentee ballot applications.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Ohio’s elections chief says nearly 70,000 votes have been cast ahead of the swing state’s March 15 primary contests.

Registered voters in Ohio can cast ballots by mail or in person before Election Day without giving any reason.

Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted says an informal survey of county elections boards on Friday shows almost 239,000 absentee ballot applications have been received statewide. His office says 118,542 requested Republican ballots and 111,712 request Democratic ones. Others requested Green Party or issues-only ballots.

Ohio voters will have the chance to help decide races for their party’s presidential nominee. The primary contests also include congressional contenders and a number of local candidates.

Voters in 82 of the state’s 88 counties will help decide the outcome of 465 local issues.

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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