35 percent turnout expected at polls

LISBON — Election Day 2017 has arrived.

The 87 precincts at 73 polling places in Columbiana County open for business at 6:30 a.m. today and close 13 hours later. In between, an estimated 35 percent of the county’s 65,928 registered voters are expected to go to the polls, according to the county’s elections board director, Adam Booth.

There are more than 150 people running for a variety of city, village and township offices and local school boards. Voters will also decide the outcome of 26 ballot issues.

The elections board met on Monday to take care of some last minute business involving absentee ballots. Booth reported 2,130 have either voted early or requested absentee ballots, 1,941 of whom had been returned as of Friday. He said this was higher than 2013, as voting early becomes an increasingly popular option among voters, even in off-year elections.

This marks the first election that voters will sign in using the new electronic poll books instead of the large paper poll books voters have used for years. With e-poll books, voters use their driver’s license to swipe an iPad outfitted with a card-reading device and then provide their signature using a stylus or their finger. Those without a driver’s license can provide another approved form of identification before signing in.

Under the current system, those who show up on election day must sign the poll book using an ink pen, with their signatures compared to what is on file. E-poll books are expected to reduce the sign-in time by 30 seconds per voter.

Booth reminded voters in the East Liverpool 4-A precinct and the Yellow Creek Township-East precinct they are to vote at new polling places.

Fawcett Apartments served as a polling place for voters in 4-A precinct, and Booth said they had been looking to consolidate some polling places in East Liverpool when the public housing complex experienced bed bug problems in 2016. As a result, the board consolidated by moving all of 4-A voters to the polling place at the United Brethren in Christ Church on Grandview Street in Pleasant Heights.

“We’ve gotten a lot of calls from people at Fawcett who are upset about the inconvenience” of having to leave their apartment complex to vote, he said.

Kim Fusco, deputy elections board director, said the Columbiana Metropolitan Housing Authority, which runs Fawcett Apartments, will offer free rides to the new polling place for residents only.

Yellow Creek Township-East residents voted at the Hillcrest Ruritan Hall on state Route 45, which closed, necessitating the elections board to find a new location. Booth said those voters now go to the polling place at the Hope Christian Fellowship Church at 43152 state Route 39.

He said in both instances, voters were mailed postcards advising them of the polling place changes.