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Published: Wednesday, 3/7/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Turnout less than super in Lucas County

Bomb threats in Lorain, Lima force shifts in location

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Meghan Gallager, director of the Lucas County Board of Elections, works on a voting machine at Sherman Elementary School in Central Toledo as poll worker Lance Wehrle, left, and presiding judges Theo Washington and Shareta Lewis observe. Meghan Gallager, director of the Lucas County Board of Elections, works on a voting machine at Sherman Elementary School in Central Toledo as poll worker Lance Wehrle, left, and presiding judges Theo Washington and Shareta Lewis observe.
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Maybe they stayed home to wash windows, clean out flower beds, or take down winter-time lawn decorations.

Whatever the reasons, on the balmy, spring-is-coming Super Tuesday, many people shied away from polls. Voter turnout was low in several areas in the region, and that meant no waiting in line for many people who did cast their votes.

In Lucas County, turnout remained light throughout the day. By evening, the Lucas County Board of Elections reported that 14.81 percent, or 2,156 of 14,561 registered voters in 16 sample precincts, had voted as of 5 p.m. Unofficial results showed a total voter turnout of 22.68 percent.

By comparison, in May, 2010, turnout was 2.7 percent at 9 a.m.; 8.2 percent at 1 p.m., and 10.8 percent at 5 p.m. In March, 2008, turnout was 10 percent at 9 a.m.; 21.5 percent at 1 p.m., and 34 percent at 5 p.m.

Total turnout in 2008 was more than 45 percent, though that race featured two competitive presidential primaries.

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Voting was steady throughout the day at precincts in Fulton County, Board of Elections Director Melanie Gilders said. Officials estimated a turnout of 30 to 35 percent of the 28,641 registered voters.

The total unofficial tally, however, showed a slightly higher turnout at 36.62 percent, or 10,488 total votes, including absentees, Mrs. Gilders said. Some provisional ballots were yet to be counted.

Online results at the Board of Elections' Web site showed more than 100 percent of votes cast for some candidates, a result of a number of people switching to Republican ballots on Tuesday. Vote percentages were set up based on the number of registered Republican voters plugged into the computer program; when more people than those already registered requested Republican ballots, that took percentages over 100, she explained. "We're working on our vendor to fix that," she said.

There was keen interest in Republican primary races for sheriff, commissioner, clerk of courts, and prosecutor.

In Ottawa County, voting was steady at precincts countywide, said Carol Ann Hill, elections board deputy director.

Weatherwise, "It's a beautiful day," she said, but there were no indications that warm temperatures brought more people to the polls.

Of the 30,042 registered voters in Ottawa County, unofficial results showed that 9,941 ballots were cast for a total voter turnout of 33.09 percent.

Ottawa County is split between the 9th and 5th congressional districts, and Ms. Hill said she had no information to support any uptick or decline in voting as a result.

In Wood County, out of 104,461 registered voters, 23,383 cards were cast, or 22.38 percent voter turnout.

In two locations in Ohio, voters shifted to other locations to vote after bomb threats were made.

A bomb threat to Lima Senior High School led to voting being moved to a nearby church, and a voting site in Lorain was affected by a bomb threat. The polling location at Gen. Johnny Wilson Middle School is part of the newly configured 9th Congressional District that stretches along Lake Erie between Toledo and Cleveland. That's the district that pitted veteran Democratic incumbents Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) and Dennis Kucinich (D., Cleveland) against each other in Tuesday's primary. Newcomer Graham Veysey ran in that race as well.

Those Lorain voters were sent to an alternative location or redirected by the Lorain County Board of Elections to cast their ballots, said Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, who noted that the same polling location in Lorain was the site of a shooting last year.

Moving polling places because of bomb threats, as well as problems related to weekend storm damage in southwest Ohio, would not affect the integrity of votes already cast in the old location or the paper ballots cast in the new location, Mr. Husted said.

In the city of Toledo, a shift of congressional district lines caused some confusion in parts of the city, voters and campaign workers reported.

With Toledo now split between the 9th and 5th congressional districts, some who expected to vote in the 9th congressional district Democratic primary among Ms. Kaptur, Mr. Kucinich, and Mr. Veysey, were surprised and disappointed in the change.

During voting Tuesday morning, some voting machines were reported to not be working properly at several voting locations, forcing some people to vote with paper ballots, but board of elections Deputy Director Dan DeAngelis said such technical issues aren't out of the ordinary.

Contact Janet Romaker at: jromaker@theblade.com or 419-724-6006.



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