By David Skolnick
Turnout for Mahoning and Columbiana counties for Tuesday’s general election should be on par with 2012 and a little better in Trumbull County than four years ago, election officials say.
Turnout in Mahoning County should be 72 percent, said Thomas McCabe, deputy director of its board of elections.
It was 72.2 percent in 2012, the last presidential election, and 72.3 percent in 2008.
Mahoning was higher than the state’s turnout in both of those elections. State turnout in 2012 was 70.5 percent and 70 percent in 2008.
Though early voting will be lower than in 2008, McCabe said he’s confident total turnout will be the same.
“We hear from a lot of voters who are undecided or don’t like the choices and are waiting to vote on Election Day,” he said. “We’re not that far off the pace with early voting. We should have about 2,000 less [than in 2012], and we expect people to make a last-minute decision and vote Tuesday.”
In Trumbull County, turnout is expected to be 70 percent, said Stephanie Penrose, its board of elections director.
It was 67.8 percent in 2012 and 73 percent in 2008.
It initially looked as if turnout would be even higher than 70 percent, but Penrose said, “I think people are turned off by the presidential candidates [Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump]. I’ve heard from people who say they aren’t going to vote.”
And how does she respond?
“It’s a shame to waste this privilege that we’re so lucky to have in this country,” Penrose said.
Turnout in Columbiana County is expected to be 70 percent, compared with 70.1 percent in 2012 and 70 percent in 2008.
“At the beginning [of voting] I said it might be one of the largest presidential turnouts in years,” said Adam Booth, Columbiana County Board of Elections director. “But people don’t like the candidates in general. People are uninterested, apathetic, don’t care and don’t like either option.”
Based on early voting and past election data, however, Booth said he’s sticking with a 70-percent turnout projection.
Though the Clinton-Trump presidential race is drawing most of the attention, Mahoning Valley election officials say local matchups are also attracting interest.
In Mahoning County, “both local parties are active and have good ground games that drive turnout,” McCabe said. “There are a lot of local races of interest this time such as treasurer, judge, state rep, the anti-fracking issue in Youngstown and other local issues.”
In Trumbull County, the Warren city income tax and the commissioners’ races are attracting interest from voters, Penrose said.
“Some places, such as Howland, have heavy turnout even without local issues,” she said.
Turnout is solid in Liberty, where three renewals are on the ballot, Penrose said.
In Columbiana County, the recorder’s race is attracting the most interest of the local races, Booth said.
In-person voting at boards of elections runs from 1 to 5 p.m. today, and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday. Polls are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.