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Off-year election fails to attract voter interest



Published: Wed, November 7, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



There were no presidents or congressmen or governors to be elected in Ohio or Pennsylvania yesterday. Not even state senators or state representatives.

It was an off-year election and it got an off-year response.

Perhaps it was too much to ask that voters would bother to go to the polls just out of principle, just out of recognition that at this time in the nation's history, we should not be operating on minority rule.

Matters of importance: Tuesday's elections were not inconsequential.

In the Mahoning Valley, city and village councils, school boards and township boards of trustees were elected. In Youngstown, there was no race for mayor, but there was a hotly contested municipal court race. This is local government at the level closest to the people, and yet most people didn't even bother to get out and vote.

There were also tax issues for schools and townships and social services that will decide the level of service that will be received for years to come. Yet in this age when pocketbook issues are supposed to be important, most people let someone else decide how their money would be spent.

Don't even think about that large percentage of the voting-age population that doesn't bother to register. Of the registered voters in Mahoning, Trumbull, Columbiana, Mercer and Lawrence counties, no county had as many as half show up at the polls Tuesday.

By the numbers: The best showing was in Lawrence County, with 47 percent. The worst was in the other Pennsylvania county, Mercer, with 35 percent.

On the Ohio side of the border, Trumbull County had 42 percent of its voters come to the polls, Mahoning County had 37 percent and Columbiana County had 36 percent.

Such anemic turnouts were not always the order of the day. On the page opposite this, there is a Years Ago entry that notes that more than 60,000 people voted in the 1951 Youngstown mayoral race. Yesterday, in all of Mahoning County only 66,266 voters went to the polls. That isn't progress.




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