Polling stations weren’t exactly busy during the November election, but Amherst city council races made turnout here the second-highest in Lorain County.
Thirty-five percent of registered Amherst voters turned out to cast ballots. While that’s the slowest general election for the city in four years, only Lorain had a higher percentage take part locally.
“Overall turnout for the county was slightly lower than I expected. but the most important thing in these election years is to look at local communities,” said Paul Adams, director of the Lorain County Board of Elections.
“These races really come down to what’s important in a local community. If there happens to be a hotly-contested issue or race, people are going to come out.”
A report released by the board shows 3,154 Amherst votes, just 784 in Amherst Township (24.84 percent), and 323 in South Amherst (30.67 percent).
Turnout countywide was rock-bottom at just 26.4 percent — that’s just 54,885 people taking part in the democratic process.
Of Ohio’s 7.9 million registered voters, about 2.29 million cast ballots on the two big state issues.
Those numbers are nothing compared to the rush for the polls in last year’s presidential election when 143,296 Lorain County voters showed up to their polling stations (69.43 percent). Amherst residents turned out in droves — 77.29 percent of those registered voted.
Turnout isn’t typically as low as this fall’s, even in off years. For example, the 2015 general election drew half of Amherst voters out.
The big difference this time around? No contentious local issues such as Amherst school, library, or recreation levies, for example.
Adams expects the 2018 midterms to drive huge voter response. Ohio will vote for governor and lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, state treasurer and auditor, General Assembly members, and Ohio Supreme Court judges; at the federal level, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown is eligible for reelection and all of Ohio’s 16 U.S. House of Representatives seats will be up for grabs.
It’s likely, with political ads already airing, that the May 8 primaries could also see a huge upswing in voter turnout, Adams said. Contested primaries by both Republicans and Democrats could emerge for the first time in recent memory.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.