Polls are open bright and early this morning, as the May primary gets under way, but the Washington County Board of Elections is expecting a lower turnout than the 2010 primary.
Director Tara Hupp said numbers for absentee voting were down from previous primaries.
“The grand total requested and total number of ballots sent was 1,053,” Hupp said. “We received 929 back…That number is down; it was a little over 1,500 in 2010.”
Last year there was no May primary because not enough candidates filed to create a race. In 2012 Super Tuesday saw about 1,873 absentee voters and 2011 saw 3,023 ballots cast for a municipal primary. The exact numbers for 2010’s primary were 1,575 absentee voters.
Hupp said today likely won’t be a mad dash to the polls, but it might be busy at certain times.
“There are certain times throughout the day (we get busy),” she said. “First thing in the morning, at lunch time and later in the evening, after work. Based on absentee numbers being down from four years ago, we don’t expect it to be, unfortunately, a lot of people voting. But there are certain times during the day we see more people voting.”
Hupp said Monday was a flurry of activity, delivering equipment to the various precincts across the county and helping voting location managers get their materials for today’s ballot casting.
“We’re trying to give poll workers a reprieve,” Hupp said. “It does take some time.”
She said all the poll workers really need to do to get set up is have ADA equipment and poll signage.
“Predominantly, they’ll be ready to go in the morning (Tuesday),” she said.
Voting opens today at 6:30 a.m. and closes at 7:30 p.m. Voters are encouraged to find their proper precinct to vote in. If there are questions about finding the proper precinct or other voting related questions, the Board of Elections is ready to answer voting questions either by phone or on its website.
Hupp said if voters vote in the wrong precinct, the outcome is not good.
“If they do not vote in the proper precinct, their vote will not count, so they want to make sure to vote in the proper precinct,” she said.
Hupp said there are certain things to remember about this primary election: there are five ballots available and party affiliations may be picked up, so voters should make their ballot decision carefully.
“There are five ballot styles available: there are five parties and one with just the issues for the precinct,” she said. “There are Democratic, Green Party, Libertarian and Republican and the fifth is issues only. When you go to your precinct, you choose a ballot style. It will affiliate (voters) with a particular party. In Ohio, it’s the only way to become affiliated with a party.”
The two school levies up for renewal in Belpre and Warren have been getting some attention.
Belpre Superintendent Tony Dunn said the levy is a renewal, so there will be no additional taxes.
“This is a renewal; the original passed in 2000,” he said. “It generates $825,000 for us. It isn’t new taxes; it isn’t new money so it will not raise anyone’s taxes.”
Warren Superintendent Kyle Newton said the levy in Warren is also a renewal levy.
“It’s no different from the renewal that’s passed three times,” he said. “We felt pretty confident the voters understood (what it’s about).”
Newton said the levy passed by two-thirds last election and he’s hoping it will pass again this time around.
“I hope people get out and vote,” he said. “It will be devastating if the levy doesn’t pass…If we can get our parents and community out there, we shouldn’t have any issue.”
In preparation for today’s election, Republican Washington County Commissioner candidates Jeremy Barton and Rick Walters, both of Coal Run, did some last minute campaigning over the weekend.
“I went to the (Lowell) Springfest Saturday morning and participated in the Springfest parade,” said Walters, 57. “(Monday) I am making phone calls to remind people to get out and vote.”
Likewise, Barton, 34, went to the Springfest and beyond.
“Over the weekend, I went to Springfest,” he said. “I went over to Beverly for the yard sale and to Barlow.”
Barton said his last campaign effort was Monday at the Republican Central Committee.
He said he’s encouraging people to get out and vote, regardless of the candidate they choose.
“At this point, people just need to vote with their conscience,” Barton said. “I wanted to show people they can get out there and make a difference. Vote for the person you think will do the best job…Vote, vote, vote.”