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Primary/Special Election held Tuesday

Photo by Kyle Nichols Ann Stewart places her ballot into the OpenElect Voting Optical Scan (OVO) machine to be tabulated while David Grimes, poll worker, helps her with the process Tuesday at the Washington County Fairgrounds polling location in Marietta.

On Tuesday, Washington County held its Primary/Special Election at six polling locations.

Issues on the voters’ ballot were five candidates up for election and a liquor petition for Belpre, a tax levy for Marietta City Schools, a tax levy for fire protection, ambulance and emergency medical services for the Marietta Township, a tax levy for the Belpre Township, a tax levy for the Decatur Township and a tax levy for the East Muskingum Fire District.

Karen Pawloski, deputy director of the Washington County Board of Elections, said off-year voting is important because people are directly affecting their communities.

“When you have off-year voting, it is politics at the lowest local level. It’s where people have a real say,” Pawloski said. “People know the candidates. They’ve worked with them, gone to church with them. It’s important that the candidates get the support from the residents to get the agency to run like they should.”

With thunderstorms and flash flood warnings on the day of voting, Mike Webber, precinct election official and voting location manager, said it was difficult to tell if the weather was a factor.

“We didn’t expect a lot of folks for an off-year. There were almost no candidates on the ballot,” Webber said. “So it’s hard to know if the weather is the cause of the problems because I’ve had people come in soaking wet.”

Jedd Butler, poll worker, said he would like to see the polling places moved into public places like schools.

“I’d like to see schools shut down during voting and teach the kids what voting is. See the voting moved to a public place like a school,” Butler said.

“The schools don’t allow us to put the machines in the school. The schools are handicap accessible while some of the places we go aren’t.”

Pawloski said it is important to teach children about voting early.

“I like it when people bring in their children while they vote. I think the schools have been helpful in bringing in high schoolers as well,” Pawloski said. “The men and women in the armed forces fought very hard for our right to vote and I think that’s very important to instill that in our young people.”

Webber said that beyond being a citizen’s civic duty, voting during off-year elections has a greater impact because less people will be voting.

“We’re talking here about income taxes and levies and those things that affect us more in the pocketbook then other issues might. So that becomes an opportunity for an individual who has an opinion about a levy to really make a difference with their vote,” Webber said. “So if you have a low voter turnout, those few people are going to make the decision, and if you decide not to show up because it’s raining, well then, you know, blame you because you didn’t do that. It’s about responsibility, it’s about duty, it’s about intelligent choices. That’s why we’re voting.”

Butler said there is not much which can be improved on with off-year voting.

“It’s an all-day affair, and I think we do a really good job. It’s a privilege to be able to vote. We just recently updated the equipment so it’s easier to vote,” Butler said. “People love early voting. It only takes about two or three minutes. It’s a very fast process, and we can accommodate a lot of people.”

Kyle Nichols may be reached at

knichols@newsandsentinel.com

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