By David Skolnick
Don’t worry about waiting too long in line to vote in Tuesday’s primary in the Mahoning Valley.
That’s assuming, of course, that you can vote.
Of the 273 voting precincts in Mahoning County, only 171 are open for the primary, including 77 in Youngstown.
Voters in Austintown, Canfield, Lowellville and Campbell — except for a handful of precincts located in school districts with tax issues such as Boardman and Poland — and most of the county’s rural communities aren’t voting because there’s nothing on their primary ballots.
As for early voting, which started April 2, it’s been almost nonexistent in the county.
“It’s been very slow,” said elections board Director Joyce Kale-Pesta.
About 2,900 people have voted early including about 700 who cast ballots at the board office at Oakhill Renaissance Center, 345 Oak Hill Ave. in Youngstown.
Of those in-person voters, most of them are pollworkers who won’t have time Tuesday to cast ballots because they’ll be working, Kale-Pesta said.
Saying she was being “overly optimistic,” Kale-Pesta said she expected 20 percent to 25 percent of eligible voters to cast ballots in the primary.
“We’ll be lucky to get to that,” she said.
The Democratic primary for Youngstown mayor is the only race attracting any interest from voters, Kale-Pesta said.
Turnout in Mahoning County in the 2011 primary was 28.4 percent, largely driven by Poland and Canfield school tax issues. It was 16.2 percent in 2009.
The expected turnout in Trumbull County for the primary is even less.
Kelly Pallante, Trumbull elections director, predicts turnout to be 12 percent of eligible voters.
That’s even worse than the 25.2 percent turnout in 2011 and 16.2 percent in 2009.
“We just feel it’s slower than it was two and four years ago,” she said. “If you look at elections in the county, there isn’t much opposition.”
Of Trumbull County’s 208 voting precincts, 138 are open for the primary.
Also, only 1,200 people have voted early with about 500 of them voting in-person at the board of elections.
Polls in Ohio are open Tuesday from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Mahoning and Trumbull counties will have early in-person voting Monday at the board offices. The Trumbull office is at 2947 Youngstown Road SE in Warren.
The hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Mahoning and 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Trumbull.
No early voting will take place in Columbiana County on Monday.
There have been fewer than 200 early votes cast in the county, and fewer than 50 of them voted in-person at the election board’s office at 7989 Dickey Drive in Lisbon, said board Director Adam Booth.
“It’s a typical off-year election,” he said.
In the 2011 primary, with 19.7 percent turnout of eligible voters, about 400 people voted early.
The turnout in the 2009 primary was 12.2 percent.
Booth predicts turnout of eligible voters for this primary to be between 15 percent and 20 percent.
Only Columbiana and United Local school tax issues are getting some attention from voters, he said.
Of the county’s 89 precincts, only 39 are open for this primary.