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Even lower turnout expected

Elections board director says 13 to 15% likely to vote in Trumbull primaries

Turnout for Tuesday’s primary election in Mahoning and Trumbull counties will be even lower than initially projected with a lack of enthusiasm from voters cited as the prime reason by election officials.

Thomas McCabe, deputy director of the Mahoning County Board of Elections, had predicted turnout at 20 percent in his county before early voting began. Because so few people have taken advantage of early voting, which is a good indicator of overall turnout, McCabe now expects turnout at 18 percent.

Stephanie Penrose, director of the Trumbull County Board of Elections, had projected turnout for the primary before early voting at 15 to 16 percent. She now says it will be 13 to 15 percent.

“It’s been so very slow,” Penrose said. “I’m hoping people come out to the polls Tuesday. But the numbers so far haven’t made me terribly optimistic unfortunately. It’s disappointing.”

McCabe added: “From what we’re seeing here, there isn’t any interest in this primary. We’re not seeing people come out early to vote or asking for ballots by mail. Our requests are very low.”

The marquee race in Mahoning County is the Democratic primary for Youngstown mayor among incumbent Jamael Tito Brown, 1st Ward Councilman Julius Oliver and Ryan Kelly.

But McCabe said: “The Youngstown mayor’s race isn’t generating a lot of interest.”

The only other items on the ballot in Mahoning County are a Democratic write-in contest for Youngstown council president, a Democratic primary for Struthers at-large council seats and tax issues in the Struthers and Sebring school districts.

Overall, 65 of Mahoning County’s 212 precincts will be open Tuesday including 45 in Youngstown.

The only item on the ballot in Trumbull County that is creating a bit of interest is a tax issue in the Liberty school district, Penrose said.

Of Trumbull County’s 158 precincts, 56 will be open Tuesday for voting. There are 48,779 voters in the county eligible to vote, Penrose said.

In Warren, there are Democratic primaries for council seats in the 1st, 2nd, 5th, 6th and 7th Wards. There also is a Democratic primary for Niles at-Large council seats, as well as for the 4th Ward council seat in Girard and for the 2nd and 4th Wards in Hubbard.

The polls will be open 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Also, early in-person voting at the boards of elections are from 1 to 5 p.m. today and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday.

While turnout is expected to be low for this election, it should be close to numbers from the past three odd-year primaries in the two counties.

McCabe’s 18 percent expectation is a little lower than the 18.39 percent in 2015 and 19.34 percent in 2017.

Turnout was only 10.7 percent in 2019, but that was because of a countywide sales tax renewal, which was the only item on a majority of ballots in Mahoning and in several communities in which there rarely is a primary during an odd-numbered year.

Penrose’s 13 to 15 percent prediction is also a bit lower than the odd-year primaries in 2015 with 16.65 percent turnout and in 2017 with 15.86 percent turnout. In the 2019 primary, turnout was 14.68 percent.

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