Despite high-profile races, low-voter turnout expected


This quote from Stephanie Penrose, Trumbull County Board of Elections director, sums up the primary election:

“It’s been so dead like there’s not even an election. We really haven’t had much activity around here. If the interest to now is any indication, I don’t think it’s going to be a busy election.”

For all of the talk of a Democratic “blue wave” or from the other side keeping Ohio red, the primary-election turnout is going to be as poor as it’s been during other recent statewide election years.

Turnout in the Mahoning Valley isn’t likely to exceed 25 percent for the May 8 primary.

And this is happening with primaries for governor for Democrats and Republicans as well as contested races in both parties for other offices and some important local tax issues.

Polls show a close race on the Democratic side for governor with Richard Cordray, a former state treasurer and attorney general, in front followed by ex-U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich. Other candidates in the Democratic primary include state Sen. Joe Schiavoni of Boardman and former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O’Neill.

On the Republican side, Attorney General Mike DeWine has a lead in polls over Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor.

These are the first open-seat primaries for governor in Ohio since 2006 when Democrat Ted Strickland and Republican J. Kenneth Blackwell emerged as their party’s nominees. Strickland ended up beating Blackwell in the general election.

Since then, Strickland lost re-election in 2010 to Republican John Kasich, and Kasich soundly defeated Democrat Ed FitzGerald in the 2014 general election.

Kasich cannot run for re-election this year because of the state’s term-limits law.

As of Tuesday, there were requests for 116,272 absentee ballots statewide, according to the Ohio Secretary of State. In comparison at the same time four years ago, there were 109,415 absentee ballots requested.

The numbers are slightly up from four years ago.

But here’s an important distinction: Kasich ran unopposed for governor in the Republican primary and FitzGerald had token opposition from a political unknown. This year, there are some well-known candidates running in competitive primaries, and the enthusiasm level hasn’t changed by much.

Perhaps people only care about presidential races as it’s the time voters come out in respectable numbers to cast ballots.

That’s unfortunate as those on the county and statewide levels – as well as Congress – impact our lives a lot more than the president.

Voting is rather easy in Ohio and you don’t have to wait until the May 8 primary to do it.

You can request an absentee ballot by calling your county board of elections office or by going to its website.

The Mahoning County Board of Elections can be reached by phone at 330-783-2474. Its website is vote.mahoningcountyoh.gov

Trumbull County Board of Elections’ phone number is 330-369-4050, and its website is boe.co.trumbull.oh.us

Columbiana County Board of Elections can be reached by phone at 330-424-1448, and its website is columbianaboe.org

There’s also early in-person voting at boards of elections.

Early voting at election boards runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. today, and from April 23 to 27. In-person voting hours are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. April 30 to May 4.

On May 5, the Saturday before the primary, in-person voting hours are from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; on May 6, the Sunday before the primary, hours are 1 to 5 p.m.

The final day for early in-person voting is May 7 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Mahoning County Board of Elections is in Oakhill Renaissance Place, 345 Oak Hill Ave. in Youngstown.

Trumbull’s board is at 2947 Youngstown Road SE in Warren, and Columbiana County’s board office is at 7989 Dickey Drive in Lisbon.

There are plenty of opportunities to vote and important decisions to be made.

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