Election officials in Mahoning and Trumbull counties expect voter turnout for this election to be as good or slightly better than that of the 2008 presidential election.
Mahoning County turnout in 2008 was 72.31 percent. Elections Director Joyce Kale-Pesta is predicting turnout for this election at 72 percent to 75 percent.
Four years ago, turnout in Trumbull County was 72.65 percent.
There, elections Director Kelly Pallante is playing it safe, predicting turnout in Trumbull County at 72 percent to 73 percent.
Adam Booth, Columbiana County Board of Elections director, is less optimistic about turnout for this election matching the 2008 figure.
Turnout in his county was 70.31 percent in 2008. Booth expects turnout to be 65 percent to 70 percent for this election.
Statewide turnout in 2008 was 69.97 percent. The secretary of state’s office isn’t predicting statewide turnout for this election.
Early voting in Columbiana and Trumbull counties has already passed the 2008 totals, and Kale-Pesta said it is quite likely Mahoning County will have more early voters this year than four years ago.
With this being the only weekend of this election for early voting, Kale-Pesta expects large crowds coming to the board office on Oak Hill Avenue in Youngstown during the final days.
In Ohio, those wanting to vote early at boards of elections can do so today between 1 and 5 p.m. and on Monday between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Those who are on line by 5 p.m. Sunday and 2 p.m. Monday will be permitted to vote no matter how long it takes, local election officials said.
As of Friday, 35,416 voters in Mahoning County cast early ballots, about 21 percent of the county’s registered voters.
The final number of early voters in 2008 was 41,225.
Early voting likely will mean shorter lines at voting locations Tuesday.
If Mahoning County ends up voting 25 percent of its registered voters early and another 25 percent stay home, that means only 50 percent of registered voters will cast ballots at polling locations Tuesday.
In Trumbull, as of Friday, there were 25,504 early voters compared with 25,012 for all of 2008, and in Columbiana, there were 8,337 early voters compared with 7,394 for all of 2008.
That’s about 17 percent of all registered voters in Trumbull and 12 percent in Columbiana.
Pallante and Booth said early voting doesn’t increase turnout; it spreads it out over a longer period of time compared with having one day to vote.
“Studies show that early voting doesn’t necessarily increase greater turnout,” Pallante said.
“It just shifts the manner in which people are casting their ballots.”
“In-person and absentee-by-mail voters are higher than before, but I don’t think it makes total voters higher,” Booth said.
“We just displaced Election Day voters with early voters.”
But Kale-Pesta said she believes early voting helps increase turnout.