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Published: Tuesday, 9/15/2009

Voter turnout still low - at 11.6 percent

BLADE STAFF

Lucas County election officials report that things are running smoothly in Tuesday's primary balloting, in part because of the low voter turnout - 11.6 percent in Toledo by 5 p.m. and 17 percent in Oregon for a combined total of 10.6 percent.

By 5 p.m. in the March, 2008 primary election the turnout was 34 percent in Toledo.

Total turnout was 45.7 percent in the 2008 primary. In that race Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton battled for the Democratic presidential nomination, which Ms.Clinton won.

At 9 a.m. today voter turnout was 2.5 percent, compared to 10 percent at 9 a.m. in the March, 2008 primary. By 1 p.m. turnout reached 6.7 percent, in contrast to the 21.5 percent of 2008.

At Tuesday's voting pace, total turnout could be as low as 15 percent of the 203,339 registered voters in Toledo. There are 13,805 registered voters in Oregon. Linda Howe, director of the Lucas County board of elections, predicted a 20 percent turnout.

There are a total of 130 polling places open until 7:30 p.m. in Toledo and Oregon, the only two communities voting. There was a minor glitch this morning when someone inserted the wrong programming card in a voting machine before the polls opened, but it was quickly corrected, elections director Linda Howe said. At the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church polling place in South Toledo, poll workers said turnout was heavier than normal for a primary, but at least partially because of an item that wasn't on the ballot Monday.

"I think a lot of people thought the casino was on the ballot, because a lot of them are looking for it," poll worker Tanya Simmons said.But the latest Ohio casino proposal won't go to voters until the Nov. 3 general election, so voters "get another six weeks of ads - they'll be thoroughly saturated" by then, poll worker Carol Kekas said.By 2:30 p.m., more than 300 people had cast ballots at OLPH. Mrs. Kekas said she expected turnout to represent about two-thirds of the norm for a regular election, which would be high for a primary.

Bill Connelly, a neighborhood resident, said he usually makes it out for the primaries, and certainly wasn't missing this one.

"This is a pretty important election. We should have two pretty good candidates on top," he said, declining to identify who he voted for because he personally knows three of the contenders.At West Toledo's Washington Church, 3925 West Central Ave., turnout was light in the morning but increased steadily as afternoon arrived.Republican at-large council candidate Mark Clark was there at 2:15 p.m. on what he said was a nonpolitical visit to see a friend who was a polling volunteer putting in a long day."I thought the least I could do was stop in and thank you," he said.



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