Local voter turnout at 27%

Though sparse compared to recent years, voter turnout for Tuesday’s general election was on par for a year with no national or statewide issues.

Around 27 percent of the county’s registered voters turned out for the election, compared to the nearly 70 percent that showed up during last year’s presidential race.

Despite the significant disparity, the number is on par with turnout during a similar 2007 election with no statewide issues, said Tara Hupp, director of the Washington County Board of Elections.

“That turnout is pretty good actually. For example, Franklin County was only expecting an 11 percent turnout this year,” she said.

Among other things, races for city council members, school board members, township trustees and a small number of school and fire levies drew 11,142 Washington County voters to the polls, according to the unofficial election totals released Tuesday night by the Washington County Board of Elections.

The race for city council president was a driving factor for Marietta resident Buffi Rossi.

“I think it’s an important position and I think it’s important to have someone who is able to discuss issues and run council so there are no conflicts,” she said.

Rossi said she voted for Republican candidate Josh Schlicher, who ultimately won the council presidency.

“Josh was the only person that came door to door when I was home and I appreciated the chance to talk to the candidate,” she said.

For parents Matt and Karen Young, of Marietta, the election of school board members was an important race.

“I’ve got three boys in the school system so it’s very important to me, the school board race,” said Matt, 43.

For some, a sense of civic duty always drives them to the polls. So was the case with Marietta resident Eric Lawson, who was glad he got off work in time to make his vote count.

“I think it’s a duty to come out and vote…You don’t have any reason to complain if you don’t vote. People like to complain about what is going on in politics and I always ask, ‘Well did you vote?'” said Lawson.

Despite a new location for the Board of Elections and a new method of electronically checking voters into their polling locations, election night went without any major issues, said Hupp.

“We had a few calls this morning with questions about the new poll books, but I think the poll workers adapted to them relatively quickly,” she said.

The poll books allow poll workers to swipe voters’ drivers licenses to quickly find them, verify them and issue them a ballot. With the new technology, it takes around 20 seconds to check in a voter, added Hupp.

For the most part, voters seemed to appreciate the new technology, said Tina Miller, who oversaw voting at the Washington County Junior Fair Building polling location.

“People were in and out quickly. We weren’t ever extremely busy. We had a nice flow going,” she said.

A few voters did seem hesitant about having their license swiped, she added.

“A couple of people were irate about us swiping their ID. They thought by swiping it, they were giving up all this information,” said Miller.

However, the Board of Elections already has all of the information contained on a voter’s license, said Hupp. In addition, voters who did not wish to provide a license have other options for presenting acceptable identification, she said.

At the BOE’s new Davis Avenue location, Boy Scout Troops 203 and 216 were preparing for their annual tradition of helping unload the ballots as they are delivered.

“I think the biggest difference is that we won’t have to contend with traffic this year,” said Alan Treadway, Scout Master for Boy Scout Troop 216.

Previously, cars double parked outside the Washington County Courthouse on Putnam Street to deliver ballots and the scouts had to wheel the heavy ballot boxes inside.

In the BOE’s parking lot, a steady stream of cars carrying ballots and polling supplies was directed smoothly up to the drop off location and straight back out of the parking lot.