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Voter turnout was low

If you are among those area residents who opted out of Tuesday’s special primary election, it would be tough to argue with that decision.

There are plenty of reasons why someone would have chosen not to vote. For starters, there just wasn’t that much on the ballot of either party to attract a whole lot of attention. Then there’s the time of year — while residents of other states are used to primary elections falling during the summer, Ohioans are not.

And, for some, it likely was the annoyance of having to vote in two primary elections — the first was May 3 — because members of the state Legislature were not able to piece together a new redistricting map that the state Supreme Court was able to sign off on. What we’ve learned about the process as it has dragged on is that for all of the complaining and whining that usually is in play is an adage that has been around for more than a century still applies: When your party is the one carving out the new districts, the process is fair and equitable. When the other party is in charge, the final map will be nothing less than a fine display of gerrymandering at its best.

Because none of the new maps could win the court’s blessing, Ohioans will be on the hook for more than $20 million — that’s the cost of having to hold last Tuesday’s second primary.

For whatever reasons, voter turnout across the state was low — 7.9 percent. That includes the counties in our region, according to unofficial results from the boards of elections.

In Jefferson County, the turnout was 4.85 percent, meaning that 2,263 of the county’s 46,640 registered voters cast a ballot.

That’s higher than the turnout in Belmont County, where 2,125 of the 44,716 registered voters cast a ballot. That’s 4.75 percent.

By percentage, more voters turned out in Harrison County. There, 8.32 percent (or 833) of the county’s 10,017 registered voters cast a ballot.

Carroll County saw 1,788 ballots cast, a number that represented 9.8 percent of the 18,208 registered voters there. And, in Columbiana County, 6,742 of the 65,308 registered there (10.32 percent) voted.

Now, not all ballots are equal, and, depending on where they live, some people had more things to vote on than others.

In Jefferson County, for instance, those who chose the Democrat’s ballot saw no contested races — Charlie DiPalma of Steubenville was the lone candidate for his party’s nomination in the race for the state representative in the 96th District. John Haseley and Steubenville’s Karla Gregory-Martin were unopposed for the man’s and woman’s slots on the central committee for the 30th District.

Those who voted the Republican ballot, meanwhile, saw incumbent state Rep. Ron Ferguson running unopposed for his party’s nomination in the 96th district. There were, however, choices at the central committee level — Jim Carnes and Shannon Walker on the man’s ballot and Nichole Hunter and LeeAnn Johnson on the woman’s. (Carnes and Johnson were the winners.)

In Harrison County, meanwhile, voters had the same choices for their respective central committees and saw uncontested races for the 95th District House seat (Republican incumbent Don Jones and Democrat William D. Ryan.)

Some voters in the county, though, had the chance to vote on beer, wine and liquor sales and Sunday beer, wine and liquor sales at the Tappan Lakeside Store. Both issues passed — the first 77-28 and the second 76-28.

With the total turnout in Jefferson County so low, it follows that some of the 71 precincts reported extremely low numbers. Consider the Welsmar precinct in the county Road 56 area — no one requested a Democrat ballot and only nine voters requested a Republican ballot. That adds up to a lot of expense, when you factor in all the costs that are associated with running a polling place.

The numbers were just a little better in Mount Tabor and Bloomingdale. Each precinct had only two Democrat ballots requested. On the Republican side, 22 Republican ballots were cast in Mount Tabor and only four were cast in Bloomingdale.

There were just five GOP ballots cast in Steubenville 4-2, New Alexandria, Irondale, Lincoln, Mingo Junction B and Wells Township 1. Democrats had a bigger turnout in some of those precincts — Steubenville 4-2, 11; New Alexandria, four; Irondale, nine; Lincoln 13; Mingo Junction B, 12; and Wells Township 1, seven.

When you add everything up, though, it’s tough to get past the reality that 95.15 percent of registered voters in Jefferson County did not cast a ballot Tuesday. The good news is that everyone has a chance to return to the polls in about three months — Nov. 8, to be precise.

The November vote in Jefferson County will be important on the local level — the election will feature some countywide races as well as the Senate battle between Republican J.D. Vance and Democrat Tim Ryan, who are looking to replace Republican Rob Portman, who will retire at the end of the year.

If you are not registered to vote, you have until Oct. 11 to do so.

Voting remains one of the most important privileges we have as Americans — make sure you do your part and cast your vote in November.

(Gallabrese, a resident of Steubenville, is executive editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times.)

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