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Voter registration, early voting dates coming

Voter registration is up this year in Washington County as the March primary looms and the deadline to register arrives next week.

“I did 77 registrations (Wednesday),” said Melissa Saltzwedel at the Washington County Board of Elections office.

While some of the registrations completed were new, most she said were from people updating changes of address or re-registering after a long absence from the polls.

In the last presidential primary in 2016, 40,870 Washington County residents were registered to vote.

As of Thursday 40,910 were on the BOE’s registered list.

For elderly residents, changes of address can be changed not only online but also by mail to the board.

Ashley Davis, a nurse and the adult day center coordinator for the O’Neill Center said common practice with their clients has included notifying caregivers.

“We usually send registration forms home with caregivers,” she noted.

For Marietta College students, registration to vote is pushed more in the general election window in the fall than for spring primaries.

“But we have an intern working registration now in the cafeteria and around campus and we’ve been hosting debate watch parties and usually offer rides to the polls,” said Katie Evans, coordinator of community based learning at MC.

Evans said typically students register for elections in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania and if they’re not voting locally vote absentee.

“The presidential years always get more attention,” noted Saltzwedel. “But that many registrations doesn’t mean everybody returns to vote.”

In 2016, only 18,162 ballots were cast in the primary, representing 42.65 percent of the registered voters.

Of those ballots, 12,923 were marked by registered Republicans, 5,191 were cast by registered Democrats, 39 were from declared members of the Green party and nine were non-partisan issue-only ballots.

If this year’s primary– with early voting beginning Wednesday at the BOE and Election Day on March 17– follows that percentage of participation then an estimated 17,448 voters may turn in a ballot over the next month.

Saltzwedel noted that Monday the BOE office in the basement of 204 Davis Ave., Suite B, will be closed. Tuesday it will open for regular business hours and the final registration day.

Then early voting begins Wednesday with the option to mail in absentee ballots, vote in-person at the office or drop off absentee ballots at the office 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. during weekdays for three weeks.

“Then our first Saturday open will be March 7, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.,” she explained.

March 9-13 voting hours in the office extend, with doors open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Local issues, ballots

For registered Democrats this cycle, the primary will offer presidential candidates to choose from but no local primary choices.

For registered Republicans, Washington County Commissioners David White and Ron Feathers are up against challengers Jamie Booth and Charlie Schilling respectively.

Additional non-partisan issues on the ballot include an electric aggregation option for Lowell village residents, the Marietta City Schools renerwal levy and an option to increase an emergency services levy in Oak Grove (East Muskingum Township) to pay for EMTs.

A public meeting on the Oak Grove Fire Department ambulance service and the proposed levy is scheduled for Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Oak Grove Christian School.

Janelle Patterson can be reached at jpatterson@mariettatimes.com.

If you go:

• What: Oak Grove Community Meeting.

• When: Tuesday at 7 p.m.

• Where: Oak Grove Christian School.

• Purpose: Discuss ballot option to increase an emergency services levy in Oak Grove (East Muskingum Township) to pay for EMTs.

Source: Oak Grove Volunteer Fire Department.

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