First day of early voting proves underwhelming

Tribune Chronicle / Renee Fox Cassandra Morris of Niles waits for her ballot at the Trumbull County Board of Elections Office Wednesday, which was the first day of early voting in Ohio. Board officials said the municipal judge race and school levy in Niles will attract voters for the Nov. 7 election.

WARREN — About 75 people voted Wednesday in the first day of in-person early voting for the Nov. 7 election, compared to about 70 people per hour in the 2016 presidential election, the executive director of the Trumbull County Board of Elections said.

“That is not a great turnout for the first day of voting. With those numbers, I am projecting a 23 to 25 percent turnout, based on 2013 numbers,” said Stephanie Penrose, head of the board.

The races most likely to bring out voters is ballot Issue 2, which would tie the amount of money the state can pay for prescription drugs to the price the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs pays for them; the Niles Municipal Court judge race, the Niles City School District levy proposal, and the contested Howland trustee and Howland Local School District races, Penrose said.

“There is a lot of interest in the judge race, and the school levy — they are asking for a lot of money, 9.25 mills,” Penrose said.

The school district’s proposed 10-year, 9.25-mill operating levy amounts to about $300 more a year for the owner of a $100,000 home and would generate about $2 million for the district, which was released in June 2016 from fiscal watch after proving to the Ohio Auditor the district had positive five-year budget projections. The district was placed on fiscal caution earlier this week because some of those deficits have returned.

Anne Marie Thigpen, the superintendent of the district, has said the money would be used to maintain busing fleets, day-today operations, pay for e-book devices like Chromebooks and allow students to participate in sports for free.

“Niles just passed an income tax increase and a park levy, I don’t want to shell out another $300 a year. They need to learn to do more with less, like the Republicans say, or send someone down to Columbus to ask why they aren’t funding the schools like they should. We can’t afford any new taxes,” said Anthony Butto of Niles as he cast his vote Wednesday.

Cassandra Morris of Niles said she voted in favor of the levy.

“I bet if they had passed a levy when I was in high school, I would have had more opportunities,” Morris said.

Francine McCabe of Niles said she voted for the levy because her mother was a school teacher and she understands the struggle to provide quality education on a budget.

Butto, McCabe and Morris said they voted on the first day of early voting because their busy work schedules mean they have to take any chance they get to exercise their right to vote.

“Voting is a right, a valuable right and women back in the day fought for us to have the right, so I feel it is important to exercise it,” McCabe said.

As a veteran of the U.S. Army, Eric Golidy said voting is his “duty.”

“People have fought for the right to vote, we have to use it. I haven’t missed a year since I was 18. I have to do my part,” Golidy said.

Rose Zavatsky of Howland and Clifford Stargell of Warren were at the board Wednesday to participate in poll worker training.

Both said people who don’t exercise the vote in off-year elections lose their right to complain about how their communities are being led.

“You can’t complain about how things are being done if you aren’t casting a vote. I don’t care how you vote, even if we disagree on everything, you should still vote,” Zavatsky said.

“If you don’t vote, you don’t have a say. And everyone should have a say in who is leading us,” Stargell said.

Numerous races in Trumbull County are contested, including several township trustee races and levies. Visit and select “candidates and issues,” and “current election” for a full list of races.