The winner of the 8th Congressional District special election on June 7 will represent for the next several months the 723,000-plus residents of the six-county district.
However, only a fraction of those people will decide who will represent them in Washington, D.C., for the next several months, and will receive an incumbent’s advantage heading into the November election for the full congressional district term.
Though Election Day is June 7, early voting starts Tuesday in Butler, Clark, Darke, Mercer, Miami and Preble counties. And you have until Monday to register to vote in the special election.
Republican Warren Davidson, Democrat Corey Foister and Green Party member James Condit, Jr. are vying to be elected to the vacated congressional seat that was created when former Speaker of the House John Boehner retired this past October. Vacated congressional seats require an election for the unexpired term.
Only about two-thirds of those constituents in the six-county district are registered voters (as of the March 2016 primary). And between 12 percent and 15 percent of total registered voters are expected to have a say in who fills the unexpired term, according to voter turnout estimates by officials with the boards of elections.
Ceaderville University political science professor Mark C. Smith said none of this should be a surprise.
“It’s not a surprise on either the turnout — which is always much lower in special elections — or the potential advantage it will give to Davidson,” he said. “I would be shocked if something odd happened in that race at this point.”
Butler County is the largest county in the district, making up roughly half its voters and population. And Butler County is also anticipating the lowest turnout.
“We’re expecting turnout to be very low, as low as 5 to 8 percent,” said Jocelyn Bucaro, deputy director of the elections board.
She said estimates are tough because there’s no similar past election to help provide information to forecast turnout for this special election. The best election would be the special election in March 2015 when both library districts in the county had issues on the ballot. Just under 12,000 total county residents came out to vote which equated to just more than 5 percent.
But May is not an unusual time to have an election in Ohio, Bucaro said.
“This election coming in June is a much more unusual election date,” she said.
The lack of campaigning is also a reason for the anticipated low voter turnout, Bucaro said.
“There’s not a lot of activity going on around the election so we feel that voters aren’t aware it’s taking place,” she said. “We’re trying to encourage people to vote.”
An example of the disinterest is exemplified by the lack of interest at nursing homes. The board of elections will go out to the six nursing homes in the area, and Bucaro said they’ve been told by nursing home activity directors that no one is interested in voting this special election.
But the election will go on despite the anticipated anemic turnout, and Bucaro said poll workers are still needed, especially in Oxford and Middletown areas, and they need more Democrats than Republicans.
“We have enough (poll workers) recruited, but with anticipated fall off we could definitely use more,” she said. “If we had another 200 we’d be in a much better place than we are now.”
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