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Confusion, disinterest split primary

Elections officials expect low turnout

Confusion and disinterest in a second primary, with early voting starting Wednesday, as well as few contested races, will keep turnout very low, Mahoning Valley election officials say.

“Because the primary was split, many voters don’t know what races are on the ballot” during the Aug. 2 primary, Melissa Wasko, deputy director of the Mahoning County Board of Elections, said.

“People don’t understand there’s a second primary or if they do, they’re not interested in it,” Stephanie Penrose, director of the Trumbull County Board of Elections, added. “You ask people and they don’t know what they’re voting on. They don’t understand it and it’s not their fault because we just had a primary in May.”

Turnout will be poor for the second primary, they said.

Wasko said it “may be 10 percent. We hope more.”

Penrose said: “I’m going to go in the 15 percent range.”

The primary for state legislative candidates — and state central committee members — initially was scheduled for May 3, but the Ohio Supreme Court ruled five times that maps approved by the Republican-controlled Ohio Redistricting Commission were unconstitutional because they unfairly favored Republicans. That caused the primary to be delayed.

A federal court, however, announced April 20 it planned to implement the third set of maps, rejected by the state court, no later than May 28 if the state couldn’t approve constitutional one. That left no incentive for the redistricting commission members to make changes. The federal court imposed the third set of maps May 27 and put them in effect for only this election.

The state central committee districts are the same as the state Senate districts — resulting in a delay for those seats, too.

CONTESTED PRIMARIES

The fact that there are only a few contested primaries on the Aug. 2 ballot also will depress turnout in Mahoning and Trumbull counties.

In Trumbull County, there is a contested Democratic primary for the 64th Ohio House District seat, which includes a majority of the county. But no Democrats are running in the 65th House race, and the state central committee man and woman seats are uncontested.

On the Republican side, there is a contested primary for the 65th House seat, an unopposed race for the 64th and four candidates for state central committeeman and three for state central committeewoman.

In Mahoning County, the only contested Democratic primary race is for the 59th House seat and the only contested Republican primary is for state central committeeman.

The uncontested Democratic primaries are for the 58th House, the 33rd Senate and state central committee man and woman.

The Republicans didn’t field a candidate for the 59th House seat and have uncontested races for the 58th House, 33rd Senate and state central committeewoman.

In some parts of both counties, polling locations will be open, but Democrats will not vote in any contested races.

The second primary is expected to cost $20 million to $25 million, Secretary of State Frank LaRose said.

POLLING LOCATIONS

In Trumbull County, 55 polling locations still will be open Aug. 2, though four of them were changed from the May primary — with two of them on a temporary basis and two permanently.

Voters who are impacted by the changes will get postcards from the board of elections letting them know where they should go on Aug. 2, Penrose said.

The permanent changes are from Avon Oaks to the Provence Mills Event Center, 1300 N. State St. in Girard, for voters in Girard 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, 3A and 3D; and from First Church of God to Newton Falls Municipal Building, SCOPE Center, 612 W. Broad St., for voters in Newton Falls 1A, 2A, 3A and 4A.

The temporary changes are from St. William Parish to Champion High School cafeteria, 5976 Mahoning Ave. NW for Champion A, B, E and F; and St. Patrick Church to Hubbard Middle School gym, 250 Hall Ave. for Hubbard City 1A, 1B, 3A and 3B and Hubbard Township F.

The county normally has 632 pollworkers for each election but will be around 550 to 560 for the Aug. 2 primary, Penrose said.

“There will be an issue with pollworkers,” she said. “It’s vacation time and people don’t want to do it three times a year.”

In Mahoning County, there will be 69 polling locations, with the Youngstown Shrine Club in Beaver Township not being used for the primary for voters in three precincts, Wasko said. They are Beaver 2, 5 and 7. Voters in those precincts will be notified by mail of where to vote.

Also, Mahoning usually has 834 pollworkers for an election, but will have around 600 for the Aug. 2 primary, Wasko said.

“Regardless of turnout, we’re ready like it’s a full election,” she said.

The Mahoning County Board of Elections is trying to educate voters on the Aug. 2 primary. Organizations that want to invite an elections worker to discuss the primary and voting options can contact Wasko at melissa.wasko@mahoningcountyoh.gov or call 330-783-2474, Ext. 6619.

EARLY VOTING

Early voting starts Wednesday.

Early in-person voting is 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday to Friday as well as July 11 to 15 and July 18 to 22. It is 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. July 25 to 29.

Early voting on July 30, the Saturday before the primary, is 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

It is 1 to 5 p.m. July 31 and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 1.

Few people are expected to vote early, Penrose and Wasko said.

“They’re not going to be beating down our doors,” Penrose said.

The Trumbull board is renting space at a vacant building at 2911 Youngstown Warren Road SE, Warren, for its early voting center. It is next door to the board offices.

The Mahoning early voting center is at Oakhill Renaissance Place, 345 Oak Hill Ave., Youngstown.

Polling locations are open 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Aug. 2.

REGISTRATION DEADLINE

County elections boards in Ohio will remain open until 9 p.m. Tuesday to allow people to register to vote in the primary. It’s the last day to register for that election for those who aren’t already registered voters.

The Trumbull office is at 2947 Youngstown Road SE, Warren.

The Mahoning office is at Oakhill Renaissance Place, 345 Oak Hill Ave., Youngstown.

To register in person, you need either your driver’s license number or the last four digits of your Social Security number.

People also can register online at voteohio.gov, the Ohio secretary of state’s website, by Tuesday.

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