April 19, 2014

Elyria
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All eyes on Ohio voters: High turnout expected due to Issue 2

James Sutter, vote center coordinator for the Lorain County Board of Elections, puts together voting machines at Providence Church in Avon. (CT photo by Bruce Bishop.)

James Sutter, vote center coordinator for the Lorain County Board of Elections, puts together voting machines at Providence Church in Avon. (CT photo by Bruce Bishop.)

SHEFFIELD TWP. — The controversial Issue 2 referendum could make voter turnout in Lorain County as high as 45 percent during today’s election, county Board of Elections Director Paul Adams said Monday.

Two years ago, the last time there wasn’t a gubernatorial or presidential election, the county had a voter turnout of 42.8 percent, Adams said. He said that election featured votes on allowing the construction of casinos and a local effort to raise the county’s sales tax by 0.5 percentage points.

The county commissioners are again trying to raise the sales tax, this time by 0.25 percentage points, to deal with projected budget deficits that officials warn could lead to layoffs and a reduction in county services if the sales tax hike fails. The other countywide issue on the ballot is a replacement levy for the Lorain County Joint Vocational School.

There are also mayoral races in Amherst, Avon Lake — where one of the three candidates needs to take at least 50 percent of the vote to avoid a December runoff — Elyria, Grafton, Lorain, Rochester, Sheffield Lake, South Amherst and Wellington.

There are also several council, trustee and other races that will appear on today’s ballot, in addition to several school levies.

Many of the county’s 204,770 registered voters already have cast their ballots through early voting, Adams said. There were 4,175 voters who cast ballots in person at the elections board office over the past month and another 12,983 voters who requested absentee ballots by mail. Adams said as of Monday, 10,866 of those mail-in ballots had been returned.

Adams warned that voters in Grafton and Vermilion, where there are several charter amendments on the ballot, could end up standing in line because voters might read the various amendments while in the voting booth.

He suggested that voters visit the elections board website, www.loraincountyelections.com, to review any issue that will be on today’s ballot before heading to the polls.

The county also will have federal observers on hand to keep an eye on the county’s compliance with federally mandated changes to ease access to the ballot box for Spanish-speaking voters in the county.

The elections board reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice earlier this year, heading off a pricey legal fight by agreeing to have bilingual ballots and take other steps to address the concerns of elections regulators.

Adams said the observers will be mostly in Lorain and Sheffield Township, but could turn up at any polling location in the county.

The polls will be open 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. today.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.