Early voting for the May 7 primary started with minimal interest in the Mahoning Valley.
Turnout for the primary — with the marquee match-ups being the Democratic primaries for Youngstown mayor and Warren council president, and some local tax levies — is expected to be low, Valley elections officials say.
That is reflected by the small number of people who requested absentee ballots by mail, including only a handful of voters casting ballots at local boards of elections on Tuesday, the first day for in- person early voting.
The Mahoning County Board of Elections hired four additional part-time workers to assist with early voting for the primary compared with 35 last year during the presidential election, said Joyce Kale-Pesta, its director.
In Mahoning County, 171 of the 273 voting precincts will be open for the primary. That includes 77 in Youngstown.
In Trumbull County, 138 of its 208 precincts are open, and 39 of Columbiana County’s 89 precincts are open.
The other precincts are closed because there’s nothing on the ballot for voters in those areas.
Also, next Monday is the deadline to register to vote in the May 7 primary.
Boards of elections will remain open until 9 p.m. Monday to give people more time to register.
Those who aren’t registered must provide a current Ohio driver’s license, the last four digits of their Social Security number, a state identification card, current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, government check or government document showing name and address in order to register.
At Tuesday’s Mahoning County Board of Elections meeting, the members discussed a possible reduction in its voting precincts.
Mahoning has the lowest number of voters per precinct, 623, among the most-populous counties in Ohio. Also, the state voter-per-precinct average is about 850, said Thomas McCabe, the board’s deputy director.
McCabe and Kale-Pesta are suggesting 800 to 825 voters per precinct. That would reduce the number of precincts from 273 to between 206 and 213.
Board members agree precincts need to be reduced, but haven’t decided how many would be cut.
Each precinct reduced saves the county about $1,000 to $1,200 per election.
The reductions would be concentrated in Youngstown, Struthers and Campbell.
One holdup is Youngstown City Council’s decision on when it will redistrict its seven wards so each has close to the same number of residents. The timing of the city’s redistricting likely will dictate when the county can reduce precincts, Kale-Pesta said.
The county wants the precinct reductions in place by the November general election, she said.
Before the board reduces precincts, it will have a hearing to receive input from the public.