Higher voter turnout predicted

By David Skolnick



An issue that restricts some collective-bargaining rights for public employees is the main reason Mahoning Valley election officials say turnout will be higher for this general election than usual for those held during odd-numbered years.

State “Issue 2 is the driving force behind the increased turnout,” said Tom McCabe, Mahoning County Board of Elections director. “It’s a pocketbook issue for people on both sides.”

A “yes” vote for Issue 2 would affirm Senate Bill 5, approved earlier this year by the Republican-controlled state Legislature and signed into law by Gov. John Kasich, also a Republican.

Numbers — the 5 in SB 5 and the 2 in Issue 2 — are causing some voters to be a bit confused, McCabe said.

“Some people [who voted early] are looking for Issue 5 because of SB 5,” he said. “We’ve had to tell some people that Issue 2 is about SB 5.”

Turnout in Mahoning County in 2009, the last odd-year election, was 41 percent, better than previous odd years, largely because of a state constitutional amendment to legalize Las Vegas-style gambling casinos. Mahoning’s turnout in 2007 was 31 percent.

“In the Valley, Issue 2 is bigger than the casino issue,” McCabe said.

Because of that, McCabe is estimating 44 percent to 45 percent turnout for this election.

About 16,000 people will vote early by mail or in-person at the board of elections in Mahoning County in this general election. In 2009, 12,800 people voted early in the county.

People typically vote in greater numbers during even-numbered general elections, particularly presidential-election years, election officials say. Both the presidential-election years and other even-numbered election years includes state, county and U.S. House races, which attract more voters than local races in odd-numbered election years, election officials say.

Turnout in Trumbull County is expected to be 50 percent, said Kelly Pallante, the county’s board of election director. Turnout was 44 percent in 2009, and 32 percent in 2007.

“With the media focus and the advertising for SB 5, this is a hot topic,” she said. “Issue 2 will increase the voter turnout.”

Also, state Issue 3, a constitutional amendment to block federal health-care mandates from taking effect in Ohio, is drawing interest from voters too, Pallante said.

About 11,000 people will vote early for this election in Trumbull County compared with about 9,000 in 2009.

Adam Booth, director of the Columbiana County Board of Elections, also predicts turnout in his county to be 50 percent.

Turnout was 42 percent in 2009, and 37 percent in 2007.

“Issue 2 will drive turnout,” Booth said.

Early voting is up in Columbiana County. About 3,500 people voted early in the county for this general election compared with about 2,400 in 2009.

Those wanting to cast ballots at their polling locations can do so from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

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