Lack of issues may affect voter turnout

LISBON – A dearth of contested races and controversial ballot issues before voters in today’s primary election is being reflected in the number of early ballots cast.

Columbiana County elections board Director Adam Booth reported at Monday’s meeting that 739 early voting ballots had been cast or received as of noon Saturday. This is compared to about 1,400 cast in the 2010 primary election, the last time when the same slate of offices was up for election.

“I think we’ll struggle to reach 20 percent turnout,” Booth said, adding the turnout in the 2010 primary election was about 23 percent. There are 65,280 registered voters in the county.

Board members conceded the election does not appear to be generating much interest among voters. The only contested races are in the Democratic primary races for governor, U.S. representative and county commissioner. There are no contested Republican primary races.

There are only a handful of money issues on the ballot, and all but one are renewals, including levies for the Beaver Local, United Local and Wellsville school districts. The only new tax is in the West Branch school district, which is asking its voters to approve an income tax.

“I think the heaviest (turnout) will be where there are school issues,” said board member Jim Beardsley.

There are also three liquor options on the ballot, two of which could determine the future of a proposed major commercial development in Columbiana.

The polls open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m. All 89 precincts will be open.

In other action, Booth reported Monday was the filing deadline for anyone wanting to run as an independent candidate in the November general election, and no there were no filings.

The board went into recess and will reconvene at 7 p.m. today to address any voting issues that have occurred during the course of the election.