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Elections Officials Say The Unofficial Voter Turnout Is Higher Than Expected

Voters flocked to the polls in greater numbers than in other off-year elections

Updated at 9:45 p.m.

Northeast Ohio elections officials say the unofficial, final voter turnout is higher than expected. 

With 100 percent of the vote counted in Lake County, for example, the voter turnout totaled 52 percent, according to final, unofficial results.

Earlier in the day, Lake County Board of Elections Director Janet F. Clair said voter turnout was very steady and expected a voter turnout of 35 percent. Traditionally, in an odd year election, voter turnout is about 18 percent to 24 percent.

Nevertheless, Scott E. Daisher, deputy director of the Lake County Board of Elections, would not call it a record high voter turnout but said it is a "larger than usual off year election."

"It's been a very large (turnout) and I know a couple of the state-wide issues had been bringing people out to vote," he said.

State Issue 2, a referendum on controversial Senate Bill 5, which restricts the collective bargaining rights of public sector unions, was soundly defeated by Lake County voters. According to Lake County Election final, unofficial results, 58 percent voted no and 41 percent voted yes. A no vote would repeal Senate Bill 5 and a yes vote would keep the law.

At about 6 p.m., Cuyahoga County Board of Elections reported voter turnout totaled an estimated 38 percent. In Summit County, voter turnout was more than 60 percent but that was with only 18 percent of the vote counted at 8:42 p.m.

Election officials from Lorain, Portage and Stark county were unavailable for comment  after the polls closed at 7:30 p.m.

Earlier today, voter turnout appeared to be higher than previous off-year elections. 

"We did a 9 a.m. sampling of 50 precincts across Cuyahoga County, and we're seeing a voter turnout of 3.6 percent at polling locations," said Jane M. Platten, director of Cuyahoga County Board of Elections in Cleveland.

"That tells me that in the early portion of election day there is a high degree of voter participation. Normally in an odd-year municipal election we see a voter turnout of about 1 percent."

The Cuyahoga County BOE also saw high return of absentee ballots, Platten said. The office received about 148,000 absentee ballot requests and expected to receive about 130,000 returned today.

"I'm happy with that number," said Platten. "I thought it would be lower because we weren't mailing out applications for absentee ballots to every voter as we have been in the past."

The Summit County Board of Elections received 26,000 absentee ballot requests and expected up to 23,000 to be counted by the end of the day, officials said. In the 2009 municipal election, Summit County BOE got 18,500 absentee ballot requests.

"From the reports we are getting, voter turnout is as high as 9 percent to 15 percent in some of the precincts we are getting reports from," said Summit County Board of Elections Director Ron Koehler. "We expect voter turnout (at the polls) to be overall higher based on the absentee ballot turnout we had."

The Lake County BOE received 16,000 absentee ballot requests from voters. As of Tuesday morning about 13,000 absentee ballots had been returned.

In Portage County, an elections official said voter turnout had been "very steady," but did not have any specific numbers.

"Our phones have been ringing pretty steadily from people who are trying to find polling locations, poll workers calling, that sort of thing," said the elections official.

The Portgage County Board of Elections received 6,670 absentee ballot requests, officials said. A  little more than 6,000 absentee ballots had been returned.

Elections officials did not report any problems with voting machines or lines at polling locations. 

Thomas C Evanchuck November 09, 2011 at 04:43 PM
I cannot describe how angry and disappointed I was when I was handed my ballot yesterday and saw that it was written in half English and half Spanish. It was very ‘busy’ and made the whole voting experience disappointing to the point of distraction. I would appreciate it if the person who approved the structure of the ballot to have the courage to step forward and explain, to me and all of the other Americans that are watching our country being led down the road to ruin, what in the wide, wide, world of sports were you thinking?

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