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Politics is big in these parts, and we’ve got it covered. John Arthur Hutchison and other staff writers will offer their inside information on the events, big news and little moments of the local political scene in Lake, Geauga and eastern Cuyahoga counties.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Voter apathy is troublesome

I’ve decided to vent a little frustration that began to build after one of my colleagues shared a quick note about the voter turnout in Lake County.

Matt Skrajner tweeted Tuesday night showed the election turnout was amazingly low when compared to the past six November elections.

The voter turnout of registered voters for Tuesday’s election was a meager 30.56 percent, according to final unofficial results from the Lake County Elections Board. The official count will be completed later this month when a few hundred outstanding valid ballots are later added to the count.

But even with a slight bump in percentage, the final official turnout will lag in comparison to the five previous November elections in the county.

There was a turnout of 77.6 percent for the 2012 presidential election, 55.91 percent in November 2011, 51.23 percent in 2010, 46.06 percent in 2009 — which is a similar election to this past Tuesday regarding what candidate races were on the ballot — and 76.44 percent for the 2008 presidential election.

Granted, the recent election didn't feature an abundance of high-profile candidates races as perhaps in the past and it wasn't a presidential election when turnout is much higher. But just a tad more than 3 out of 10 registered voters bothering to cast a ballot in Lake County in November is not good.

These are the races and issues that affect people’s lives and pocketbooks closest to home, so why not take a few minutes to have a say? If not, don’t complain about your community officials’ job performance or about the rate of local taxes paid.

The city of Eastlake saw voter turnout a little higher with a race for mayor among those piquing interest.

The turnout in the 12 precincts saw the percentage of registered voters casting ballots range from as low as 29.71 percent in Precinct 1A to as high as 55.69 percent in Precinct 1C, according to final unofficial results. For the entire city, the voter turnout was 42.31 percent.

To save a little space, final official results from county elections board will be used to attribute voter turnout for the remainder of this column.

The winner in Lake County for the precinct with the highest voter turnout was North Perry Village Precinct AA with 57.39 percent. Voters there selected candidates for Village Council, Perry Township trustee, Perry School Board and Lake County Educational Service Center Board.

Painesville Precinct 4A had the lowest voter turnout with only 13.35 percent casting ballots despite three contested city council at large races, plus races for school board and Educational Service Center.

According to other county elections boards in Northeast Ohio, turnout wasn’t much better.
In Geauga County, it was 35.56 percent —  among the region’s highest. In Cuyahoga County, it was 28.99 percent and Lorain County had 28.65 percent.

A look some other counties shows turnout of 34.27 percent in Ashtabula County; 29.70 percent in Medina County; 28.85 in Portage County; 26.85 percent in Summit County; and 24.50 in Trumbull County.

Statewide voter turnout was not yet available by the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office, which will post election results when county election boards certify their results. My hunch is we’ll see similar figures across the state.

Prediction recap

In last Saturday’s column I made predictions for four candidates races and three issues.

Of those picks, I managed to get three of four candidates races correct by predicting winners Dennis Morley for Eastlake mayor winner, David Eva for Mentor-on-the-Lake mayor, and Chuck Hillier and Josh Pennock out of nine candidates to win two Painesville Township trustee seats.

My upset pick of Joe Zawatski for Willoughby Hills Council at large 2-year term was incorrect as John Plecnik emerged victorious.

I went two for three with the issues selected by correctly picking passage for Laketran’s continuous 0.25 percent sales tax renewal and the Lake County Children Services 5-year, 0.7-mill renewal.

However, I failed miserably with my pick that the Willoughby-Eastlake Schools 5-year, renewal levy would not pass.

Who can it be now?

Geauga County Republicans meet today to select a new county commissioner to replace Tracy Jemison who retired effective Oct. 31. Early favorites I've heard mentioned are Geauga County GOP Vice Chairman Blake Rear, former appointed Commissioner Walter “Skip” Claypool and Chardon Councilwoman Nancy McArthur. It should be an interesting process.

How many ballots will it take to come to a decision?

John Arthur Hutchison
Twitter: @newsheraldjah

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