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Turnout in the current election seems closer to a gubernatorial election than a typical municipal election year.
According to some partial counts provided by the Lucas County Board of Elections, 35.8 percent of registered voters had cast ballots as of 5 p.m. The total turnout in Lucas County in the last off-year election, 2009, was 37.5 percent.
Marty Limmer, the information services manager for the elections board, said he would not be surprised if the turnout surpasses the voter participation rate in November, 2010 — 46.4 percent.
Driving the turnout is Issue 2, which would enact or defeat a proposed law undercutting public employee union bargaining rights in state and local governments and school districts.
Matt Klempner, a spokesman for We Are Ohio, the union-related group trying to defeat Issue 2, said union opponents were out early going door to door and phoning voters.
“I just know we’ve been heavily concentrated on getting our side out. We’re cautiously optimistic,” Mr. Klempner said.
The pro-Issue 2 campaign is being orchestrated by the Lucas County Republican Party. Chairman Jon Stainbrook said a phone bank is calling voters to make sure they get out to vote.
In Lucas County, some Toledo firefighters on Tuesday stationed themselves near polling locations to campaign against Issue 2, and there were some reports of firefighters voting in their uniforms or gear, but union officials said there was no suggestion from the union for members to wear uniforms or gear to go vote.
“A lot of guys pay to have their own helmets, so somebody might have one of those, but no uniforms,” said Dan Desmond, vice president of Toledo Firefighters Local 92.
The uniforms at polling locations did raise some questions. However, Dan DeAngelis, the deputy director of the Lucas County Board of Elections, said poll workers were instructed that people wearing police or fire uniforms — or, for that matter, a union shirt — does not constitute campaigning and was therefore OK.
Campaigning is allowed outside polling locations so long as the campaigners are more than 100 feet from the location’s entrance.
In other area counties, elections officials also were reporting high turnout.
JoAnn Friar, elections director in Ottawa County, said with what she’s seen so far, she is estimating a voter turnout of about 52 percent.
“With the state issues, I think they’re going to bring quite a few people out,” she said. “I hope I’m wrong, I hope it’s even higher. But I’ll be pleased if it is 52 percent. That’s higher than most off-year elections.”
In Fulton County, elections director Kandice Lemley said there have been no trouble with voting machines and workers checked out one unfounded complaint about a campaign sign too close to a polling location. Otherwise, things are running smoothly and there appears to be a larger turnout than normal, she said.
Wood County officials were also expecting a sizeable turn out, but were giving no predictions on voter turnout numbers.