Clark County sees low voter turnout in November election

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Residents of Clark and Champaign Counties went to the polls Tuesday to cast their votes.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Less than 20% of Clark County registered voters decided to cast a ballot in Tuesday’s election, falling way short of what the Clark County Board of Elections officials were planning for.

Clark County Board of Elections Director Jason Baker said his office was expecting closer to 30% participation.

“I myself was a little disappointed,” Baker said. “People have the choice to vote but it’s up to them.”

In Champaign County, 32% of registered voters cast a ballots.

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Tuesday’s election was the first full election with the new voting machine equipment, Baker said, and overall they passed the test. He said there were a few hiccups early on but the office was able to resolve the issues.

“I went into this election and told everyone that this was a great practice for the March 2020 elections and March will be refinement for November 2020,” Baker said. “The poll workers, full-time staff, the deputy director, everyone pitched in and did a great a job to make Tuesday a successful day.”

All election results were reported and on the board of election’s website by 10:30 p.m., Baker said. The goal is to get all the results in by 10 p.m., he said.

The goal is also to put up early voting returns by 7:45 p.m., Baker said. Polls close at 7:30 p.m.

Baker said his office had the returns up at 8 p.m. due to a glitch in the system. He said his office learned a lot about the new machines and are prepared moving forward.

Champaign County county has 28 precincts and has 9 polling locations. No problems were reported during election day, according to Jodi Flora, deputy director for Champaign County board of elections.

“No problems at all. Overall it was a great election,” she said.

Final, unofficial results are in. They still have to count provisional ballots. They estimate that the results will be certified on Nov. 19

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Despite the polling locations being busy throughout the day on Tuesday’s election, Flora said voter turnout was lower than previous general elections. In 2015, her agency reported a voter turnout of 49.2%, in 2017 that number was 34.5% and in 2018 it was 57.8%, according to data provided by the Champaign County Board of Elections.

Flora said presidential elections are their busiest. In 2016, that election saw a voter turnout of roughly 72 %. She anticipates a larger turnout than Tuesday’s election for the upcoming presidential primary.

Wittenberg University State and Local Political Science Professor Robert Baker said in Clark County, low turnout rates in off-year elections are not uncommon.

“There are a number of things to think about. There weren’t many contested races in Clark County except for a few,” he said. “It was mostly people running opposed and that is probably the biggest reason for the low turnout.

Robert Baker also pointed to the fact that there wasn’t a state issue on the ballot. He said through his research, he’s found Clark County voters are more apt to participate in voting when an state-wide issue is on the ballot.

18.4%: Percent of voters that voted in Clark County

32.92%: Percent of voters that voted in Champaign County

4,336: the number of voters that voted in the Springfield mayor’s race

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