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Turnout expected to be low

On Tuesday voters will select their governor for the next four years between Republican incumbent John Kasich and Democratic challenger Ed FitzGerald. Traditionally that brings out more voters than off year elections when that ballot is filled mostly with township and village races.

But some observers are saying this year will be different. Don’t expect much of a turnout.

“Historically gubernatorial races tend to be not as high as presidential, but higher than municipals,” said Mark McCown, vice chair of the county board of elections and a Democrat. “But Ohio, like most other states, has been experiencing an economic recovery. There has not been a significant attraction made by Mr. FitzGerald. When you don’t have an extremely competitive race at the top of the ticket, it affects the turnout.”

McCown, in his role as board member, will be at the courthouse election night, but isn’t expecting as big a crowd there as in past elections. That’s because iPhones and the like bring the results home, eliminating the need to show up at the first floor of the courthouse waiting for periodic handing out of results.

“It’s the nature of technology that it is easier for people to access from the comfort of their home,” McCown said. “There are fewer people coming down to the courthouse and socializing.”

However, for those who do, they will find results available on a large screen TV in the lobby that will provide precinct by precinct tallies.

Republican Party vice chair Jason Stephens, also the county auditor, agrees the overall turnout will be low, basing his prediction on how absentee ballots are running. Close to 4,000 absentees were mailed out this election.

Turnout will vary precinct by precinct because of issues such as the flood levy in Ironton, the police levy in South Point and three local options in the Rome Township area.

“Ironton turnout will be higher and the village of South Point’s will be than in precincts without a levy on the ballot,” Stephens said. “LaBelle 3 will have a higher turnout because of the alcohol question on the ballot.”

Overall Stephens predicts there will be between 13,000 and 14,000 votes cast in the county out of the almost 48,000 registered voters. That’s because 25 and 30 percent of votes cast are typically absentee. This election close to 4,000 absentees were mailed.

“That is lower than four years ago,” he said. “Four years ago, Ted Strickland was on the ballot, a local candidate seeking higher office. It was a hotly contested race. Now there is a Democratic candidate for governor who is relatively unknown in Lawrence County. That will keep people from being excited about the race. I hope I am wrong. I hope a lot of people come out to Election Day.”