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Voter turnout in Mahoning Valley expected to be low



Published: Sun, May 4, 2014 @ 12:06 a.m.

Few races, issues in Valley energize voters, officials say

By David Skolnick

skolnick@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Less than one-third of registered voters in the Mahoning Valley will cast ballots in Tuesday’s primary, either at the polls or through early voting, local election directors say.

“There’s not a lot driving voters,” said Joyce Kale-Pesta, Mahoning County Board of Elections director. “This [election] is very slow as far as turnout.”

Turnout in not only the Valley, but statewide, for primaries has been below 30 percent since 2009.

It will be the same this year, election officials say.

Kale-Pesta expects turnout in Mahoning County to be 25 percent to 30 percent, but gives 28 percent as a specific amount. Turnout was 25 percent in 2010, the last time statewide candidates were on the primary ballot.

There are open Democratic primaries for the 58th Ohio House District, county probate court judge and a seat on the 7th District Court of Appeals in Mahoning County.

“Those candidates will bring out their faithful, but I don’t see many others except those who always vote” to cast ballots in the primary, Kale-Pesta said. “Weather is always a factor. If it’s a bad weather day, turnout will be even lower.”

The Mahoning Valley forecast for Tuesday calls for partly sunny conditions with temperatures in the low to middle 60s.

The anti-fracking charter amendment in Youngstown, on the ballot for the third time in a year, “doesn’t seem to be motivating anybody” to vote, and the county sales tax isn’t driving voters, but the Austintown school bond issue “seems to be attracting interest. That’s the one with the most interest,” she said.

Statewide, the only contested primary is for the Democratic nominee for governor, which isn’t expected to be competitive, and a state issue to reauthorize borrowing money for capital improvements.

Kelly Pallante, Trumbull County Board of Elections director, also said turnout will be low in her county.

She’s predicting turnout in her county at 25 percent. That’s what it was in 2010,

“To be totally honest with you, we’re getting voters asking if there’s anybody on the ballot,” Pallante said.

The county has a handful of contested primaries and some school and community tax issues.

“But there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of interest,” Pallante said.

Turnout in Columbiana County should be about 20 percent, said Adam Booth, its board of elections director.

But he’s not that confident. “Quite frankly, I think we will struggle to hit 20 percent,” he said.

On the ballot in Columbiana County are some school and community levies and a few contested primaries.

Turnout was 23 percent in the county in 2010.

When making turnout predictions, elections board directors say they look at similar primaries — which is why 2010 is used as a comparison — and early voting.

Early voting will be less this year than it was in 2010 in Mahoning and Trumbull counties.

There were about 7,800 early voters in the 2010 primary in Mahoning. The county will likely have 6,000 early voters this year, Kale-Pesta said.

In the 2010 primary, Trumbull had 4,500 early voters and should have about 4,000 this primary, Pallante said.

There were 1,400 early voters in Columbiana four years ago. The county will likely get close to 1,000 for this primary, Booth said.

Early voting in Ohio for this week’s primary ended Saturday.


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