The majority of registered voters in Athens County did not show up to the polls to vote in the May 8 primary election, which focused on local and statewide issues and candidates.
Only 8,394 out of the 44,850 total registered voters, or 18.7 percent, in Athens County voted in the primary election. Voter turnout for primary elections has fluctuated in recent years; 7.9 percent showed up in 2017 compared to 42.8 percent in 2016. Voters this year helped decide who would represent their parties in the upcoming general election, as well as vote on multiple issues.
“There are always less voters in an off cycle non presidential primary,” Representative Steve Stivers, R-Upper Arlington, said.
According to the Ohio secretary of state's office's website, voter turnout in Athens County lagged behind statewide numbers by about 2 percent. In the State of Ohio, 1,660,126 registered voters out of the 7,941,921, or 20.9 percent, voted in the primary election. Counties across Ohio saw voter turnout anywhere between 13.8 percent (Holmes County) and 35 percent (Meigs County).
“A lot of it depends on what's on the ballot and if there is interest,” Penny Brooks, deputy director of the Athens County Board of Elections, said. “When there is nobody running against a candidate usually that means there is less of a turnout.”
Brooks said that the general election in the fall will see a higher voter turnout because of increased campaigning by parties and their candidates. She said that since there is one candidate from each party running against each other, there is increased interest from voters.
Voter turnout is something that state, county and federal officials want to see improved and often conduct events that encourage voting and provide opportunities for people to register.
“I did a telephone town hall on Monday, the day before the election, where we included Republicans and Democrats and we told people to go out and vote,” Stivers said.
Sam Rossi, the press secretary for Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, said the office reached out to about 1.8 million Ohioans who were unregistered and eligible to vote.
“The Secretary of State’s office has championed a series of recent reforms to increase ballot access and make elections more efficient,” Rossi said in an email. “In recent years, we have launched online voter registration and online change of address.”
These numbers on voter turnout are unofficial, the official count will be finalized later this month. You can access statewide election and voter turnout results from the May 8 primary here.