Less than two weeks ahead of Election Day, only one thing seems clear amongst the constant noise about Big Bird, a nuclear Iran, and bayonets and horses: the presidency will hinge on how Ohio votes. Ohioans seem to be taking their task seriously: 7.9 million residents are registered to vote, and more than 800,000 Ohioans have already cast their ballot for president, according to data released Tuesday by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s office. Ohio voters will have 246 hours to vote in person before Election Day and 750 hours to cast their absentee ballots; 1.6 million Ohioans have requested or cast an absentee ballot for the general election, and almost 6.9 million absentee ballot applications have been sent out.
Each ballot cast and hour of voting available in Ohio will be crucial in determining the presidency—now more than in any previous race, experts say. On Tuesday, whiz-kid election predictor Nate Silver wrote, “This year, all clichés about Ohio are true.” “We’re the tipping point state,” agrees Dan Tokaji, a professor of election law at Ohio State University’s Moritz School of Law. “It is extremely unlikely that either candidate can win without winning Ohio.” And so Ohio is hurriedly preparing its voting apparatus for the worst-case scenario: another Florida 2000. “It’s hard to imagine that anything could be as bad as Florida,” says Rick Hasen, the author of The Voting Wars: Florida 2000 to the Next Election Meltdown.