Report: Few voters despite important Oberlin races

By Jason Hawk -



Polling stations weren’t exactly busy during the November election, with only 21.56 percent of Oberlin voters weighing in.

Just 2,023 turned out to cast ballots for Oberlin city council, school board, tax renewal, and energy policy issues.

“Overall turnout for the county was slightly lower than I expected. but the most important thing in these election years is to look at local communities,” said Paul Adams, director of the Lorain County Board of Elections.

“These races really come down to what’s important in a local community. If there happens to be a hotly-contested issue or race, people are going to come out.”

The city’s biggest race — seven open council seats — wasn’t “hotly” contested. With eight candidates in the mix, all but one would retain or gain office.

Nor was turnout driven by entirely uncontested races in surrounding townships. A canvass report released by the board shows 440 voters (32.23 percent) in New Russia), 361 voters (33.15 percent) in Pittsfield Township, and 362 voters (33 percent) in Camden Township and Kipton.

Turnout countywide was rock-bottom at just 26.4 percent — that’s just 54,885 people taking part in the democratic process.

Of Ohio’s 7.9 million registered voters, about 2.29 million cast ballots on the two big state issues.

Those numbers are nothing compared to the rush for the polls in last year’s presidential election when 143,296 Lorain County voters showed up to their polling stations (69.43 percent). Oberlin residents were a slice of that pie — 57.33 percent participation — though the city’s turnout was still much lower than most others.

Adams expects the 2018 midterms to drive huge voter response.

Ohio will vote for governor and lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, state treasurer and auditor, General Assembly members, and Ohio Supreme Court judges; at the federal level, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown is eligible for reelection and all of Ohio’s 16 U.S. House of Representatives seats will be up for grabs.

It’s likely, with political ads already airing, that the May 8 primaries could also see a huge upswing in voter turnout, Adams said. Contested primaries by both Republicans and Democrats could emerge for the first time in recent memory.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.


By Jason Hawk