Published: Monday, November 5, 2007
Don't expect long lines at polls Tuesday
Even '40 percent might be optimistic,' one official said.
YOUNGSTOWN Less than half of registered voters in the Mahoning and the Shenango valleys are going to vote during Tuesday's election, elections officials predict.
For those who are voting, don't worry about long lines.
"There's not a lot driving people to the polls," said Rokey Suleman, deputy director of the Trumbull County Board of Elections. "There's not a lot of excitement there."
There are no contested municipal races in Trumbull's biggest cities Warren, Niles, Girard, Hubbard and Cortland except a write-in campaign for Niles council's 1st Ward seat.
That leaves races for school boards, township trustees, mayoral and council races in the smaller cities and villages, and tax levies on the ballot.
Suleman predicts turnout Tuesday to be 40 percent, driven primarily by school board races. He pointed in particular to Girard, a city that typically has strong turnout.
But Suleman admitted, "Quite honestly, 40 percent might be optimistic."
Turnout in Lawrence County is expected to be 40 percent, according to Marlene Gabriel, director of that county's Bureau of Registration and Elections.
"That's what I'm thinking if the weather is nice, and that's kind of high," she said. "If [the weather] isn't nice, it will be less."
Lawrence has countywide races for commissioner [three seats], treasurer and controller as well as New Castle mayor and a countywide referendum to establish a commission look at possibly changing the county's form of government.
Even so, turnout will be low, Gabriel said.
"I don't know what it takes to get people out there," she said. "It's sad."
If 40 percent is sad to Gabriel, she should look at the predictions in Columbiana, Mahoning and Mercer counties.
Election officials in Mahoning and Mercer each estimate turnout at 35 percent in their counties with 33 percent predicted for Columbiana.
"It's basically just boards of education and trustees" on the ballot, said Lois Gall, Columbiana County Board of Elections' director.
In Mahoning County, turnout should be solid in Campbell for a number of contested seats, including mayor, and two citizen initiatives regarding the city's water treatment plant, and in Boardman for an open trustee seat, said Thomas McCabe, director of the county's board of elections.
With only a few other races of interest and a handful of tax levies, turnout Tuesday is expected to be light, he said.
"Looking at the races, there's not a lot of hot trustee or school board races," he said.
Turnout in Mahoning in 2005, the last odd-year election, was 45 percent, but that was with a well-publicized Youngstown mayoral race. Also, each township had two trustee seats up for grabs two years ago compared to one this year.