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Elections

Voter turnout in county expected to be higher than normal (UPDATED)

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    Jarrod Farley, of the Lorain County Board of Elections, sets up voting machines at Sheffield Village Municipal Complex on Monday.

    STEVE MANHEIM / CHRONICLE

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    Jarrod Farley, left, and Brandon Kalo, of the Lorain County Board of Elections, set up voting machines at Sheffield Village Municipal Complex on Nov. 5.

    STEVE MANHEIM / CHRONICLE

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SHEFFIELD TWP. — Driven by hard-fought races in this midterm year, higher than normal turnout is expected in today’s elections, Lorain County officials said Monday.

Elections board Director Paul Adams and Deputy Director Jim Kramer had similar predictions for how many voters would make it to the polls today, with Adams’ prediction two percentage points higher.

With 214,629 registered voters, Lorain County can expect 60 percent turnout, Adams predicted, while Kramer’s prediction was 58 percent.

In comparison, the turnout in the 2014 midterms was about 40 percent, Adams said.

The turnout hasn’t been just in Democratic or Republican areas, but “across the county” and “across the board,” Adams said.

“It’s been busy, as expected,” he said. “It’s been a pretty steady, large turnout.”

Adams said Tuesday morning that no problems had been reported, and there were lines at some locations when the polls opened at 6:30 a.m., but those subsided quickly.

Adams said as of 5:30 p.m. Monday, 13,353 voters had cast absentee ballots in person at the Board of Elections offices at 1985 North Ridge Road. Two-thirds, or 6,578, were Democrats, 3,333 were Republican and 3,442 were unaffiliated or third-party voters.

Approximately 1,000 of that total were cast Monday alone, he said. By comparison, only about 4,600 voters voted in person at the Board of Elections in the 2014 midterm elections, and “we passed that a couple weeks ago,” he said.

Voters sent in another 28,135 absentee ballots by mail, with 7,356 Democrats, 8,209 Republicans and 12,570 unaffiliated/ third-party voters choosing that option, Adams said.

The volume of returned ballots “tapered a couple days ago,” Kramer said. In 2014, only about 14,000 ballots were returned by mail, he said.

It’s possible a large number of ballots also may be returned in today’s mail, Kramer and Adams said. Also, contrary to some mailers that went out from political parties this campaign season, voters are asked not to bring completed ballots to their polling place today.

If they do, Kramer said, they will be required to fill out a provisional ballot. Completed absentee ballots that didn’t make it into the mail with a postmark of Monday or prior should be dropped off directly to the Lorain County Board of Elections office by 7:30 p.m. sharp today, he said.

Elections officials also are closely watching today’s weather and hoping to avoid severe conditions and any power outages that could affect polls or ballot counting.

“That will have a lot to do with where the election turns out” numbers-wise, Adams said.

Adams said the board of elections had to send out to their printer for additional orders of ballots and envelopes, and has staffing levels of part-time elections workers nearing but not quite reaching the number hired during presidential election years.

Lorain County’s final results may not be known until midnight today, Adams said.

As of Monday night, there were no changes to polling locations or precincts, Adams said. Updates in case of unforeseen circumstances will be posted on the Board of Elections website, loraincountyelections.com, and on The Chronicle-Telegram website at chroniclet.com and its social media feeds like Facebook and Twitter.

Northwood Middle School at 700 Gulf Road in Elyria is a polling location. So due to the expected large voter turnout and “to ensure the safety and security of our students,” the school will be closed for the day, Elyria Schools spokeswoman Amy Higgins said.

All other Elyria schools will remain open, and Northwood students will resume classes Wednesday, she said.

Contact Dave O’Brien at (440) 329-7129 or do’brien@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter @DaveOBrienCT.



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