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Voter turnout expected to be low

Tomorrow is election day in Ohio and across the nation. Ohio voters will go to the polls and elect a governor and other statewide office holders and U.S. congressional representatives.

They will also decide the fate of a proposed constitutional amendment that would alter the way drug offenders are handled within the court system.

Lawrence County voters will also elect state representatives and a state senator, as well as a county commissioner and other local office holders. They will also decide the fate of a number of levies on the ballot.

Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell has predicted that the statewide turnout on election day will be 47.34 percent. He has predicted that only 39 percent of registered Lawrence County voters will go the polls.

Lawrence County Board of Elections Director Mary Wipert said she thinks Blackwell's prediction is too optimistic.

"We're expecting between 25 and 27 percent," Wipert said. "We base this on what happened in the primary election, on the number of absentee votes we've gotten, what we're hearing, what interest is being shown, and there just is no interest."

Wipert said her office has received approximately 2,200 absentee ballots as of Monday morning. In a good year, about 3,000 absentee ballots will have been received by this point.

"That's very slow," Wipert said. "It indicates to us that people are just not interested."

Lawrence County has 38,636 registered voters. If Blackwell's prediction is accurate, only 14,900 of those registered voters will bother to cast a ballot Tuesday.

The polling hours are 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Kenneth Blackwell today predicted that 3.3 million of Ohio's 7.1 million registered voters will participate in the Nov. 5 general election. In the most recent gubernatorial general election, 1998, ballots were cast by 3.5 million (49.81 percent) of Ohio's 7 million registered voters.

The turnout prediction is based on information provided to the secretary of state by county boards of elections. Calculations were derived from the total number of registered voters, turnout figures of similar election years and other factors specific to individual counties.