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Published: Friday, 11/7/2008

Lucas County, Ohio turnout both about 67 percent

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER

Lucas County voters, and voters statewide, turned out in lower numbers Tuesday than officials expected - despite massive registration efforts and the convenience of early voting.

Unofficial turnout countywide was 67 percent and statewide, the turnout was 67.5 percent. Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner predicted 80 percent.

Election officials cautioned that the number of voters will increase once provisional and other ballots are added to the mix - by as much as 15,000 in Lucas County, on top of the 210,736 recorded so far, according to Linda Howe, the director of the Lucas County Board of Elections.

Still to be checked are approximately 9,600 provisional ballots. The election board is waiting for out-of-country military ballots, absentee ballots that were postmarked on Nov. 3 but still haven't arrived, and up to 200 mailed-in absentee ballots that were not properly inserted in the envelope; those voters have 10 days to go to the board of elections and fix the problem.

In addition, some 1,500 damaged paper ballots have to be "remade" so they can be fed through a scanner.

If all those votes show up and prove to be valid, turnout could rise to 71.2 percent once the official count is done.

Why turnout didn't reach the 80 percent figure is not clear.

"It was a beautiful day. I thought people would be out. Everyone I talked to thought turnout would be higher," Ms. Howe said. She said reports of long lines may have deterred some voters.

This year's election had few local contested races to generate excitement.

Mr. McCain's vote totals in Lucas County fell almost 20 percent from what President Bush received in 2004, while Democratic nominee and now President-elect Barack Obama's votes increased slightly from those of Democrat John Kerry in 2004.

Mr. Obama received 134,729 votes, compared with 132,650 for Mr. Kerry in 2004, a gain of just more than 2,000 votes, while Mr. McCain received 70,865 votes on Tuesday, compared with Mr. Bush's total of 87,146 in 2004.

Another point is that Lucas County's population declined by about 8,000 people from 2004 to 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Richfield Township had the highest turnout in Lucas County, at 84 percent. Spencer Township had the lowest turnout, at 56 percent. Toledo's overall turnout was 62 percent, according to the unofficial results.

Within the city, turnout ranged from a low of 42.3 percent in the 2nd Ward, in Toledo's North End, to a high of 73.4 in the 7th Ward, in South Toledo centering on Heatherdowns Boulevard. The city has 24 wards.

Contact Tom Troy at:

tomtroy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6058.



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