Aug 4, 2022 - Politics

Pitifully low turnout for special August primary

Voter turnout in Ohio's primary elections
Note: Final bar shows turnout for the primary as of close of polls on Aug. 2. Results are unofficial pending absentee and provisional ballot counts. Years included are those with Statehouse primary contests; Data: Ohio Secretary of State; Chart: Nicki Camberg/Axios

Just nine of the 952 voters registered to a slivered voting precinct near Canal Winchester made the trip to Gender Road Christian Church Tuesday to cast a ballot.

  • That 1% turnout still beats the seven total voters in a precinct off High Street.
  • And it's more than the turnout at a University of Cincinnati precinct: 0.

Why it matters: Tuesday's pitiful public participation was the predictable result of a second primary for Statehouse elections held because of repeated redistricting failures.

  • If summertime plans didn't keep voters away, the lack of competitive races did.
  • More than 80% of the races featured a candidate running unopposed — or no candidate at all.

Eye-popping stat: Ohio taxpayers footed the $20 million bill to hold this extra election, amounting to nearly $32 spent per ballot cast.

The big picture: The statewide voter turnout was 7.9%, per unofficial results from the Ohio Secretary of State office.

  • No county has reached a 20% turnout and only 14 have cracked double digits.
  • Those figures may increase slightly as late arriving mail-in ballots are tabulated and provisional votes are resolved.

Zoom in: Franklin County's turnout was 6.8%, the lowest in any election since 2013.

💭 Tyler's thought bubble: I cast one of just 48 ballots at my precinct. For reference, I saw way more people in line to see the state fair's butter cow last weekend.

  • "It's been busier than we thought," a cheerful poll worker told me.
  • They must not have expected much, since the precinct turnout was a paltry 5%.

The bottom line: Tuesday's election followed a year of political pingpong, missed deadlines and defiance of judicial oversight.

  • It's easy to have gotten lost in the drumbeat of redistricting coverage. But this is how we got here:

Sept. 16: The Ohio Redistricting Commission, made up of five Republicans and two Democrats, passes the first set of maps, without bipartisan support.

Jan. 22: Commission passes a second set of maps without bipartisan support.

Feb. 24: Commission passes a third set of maps without bipartisan support.

March 28: Commission passes a fourth set of maps without bipartisan support.

May 3: Ohio's first primary election is held without state legislative races.

May 5: Commission resubmits the third set of maps again without bipartisan support.

May 27: Federal judges order Ohio to hold a second primary, for state legislative races, using the unconstitutional third set of maps.

Aug. 2: Just 6.93% of Ohioans cast ballots in that taxpayer funded, $20 million election.

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