One of the questions state Sen. Nina Turner fielded at an Akron event Thursday was what she thought about the 8 percent turnout in the primary election Tuesday in Summit County.
“It breaks my heart to see that,” responded Turner, the Democratic candidate for secretary of state.
The Summit County Board of Elections determines its turnout number by dividing the number of ballots cast (16,747 on Tuesday) by the total number of registered voters (208,457), arriving at a figure that some would argue isn’t the best reflection of actual turnout because it includes voters who weren’t eligible to cast ballots.
In Tuesday’s election, for example, voters in many communities across the county had nothing to vote on, with the only races in Akron, Cuyahoga Falls and Tallmadge, as well as the Barberton Municipal Court Clerk contest. (Akron and Barberton also had a few liquor options and charter amendments.)
“There wasn’t a lot of interest,” said Joe Masich, director of the elections board.
A look at historical trends shows that turnout Tuesday was lower than it had been in the past three September primaries, which also featured only local elections. The turnout (calculated the same way) was 11.4 percent in September 2007, 10.3 percent in September 2009 and 19.7 percent in September 2011, which included the heated race between Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic and Akron Councilman Mike Williams.
Turner thinks voters shoulder some responsibility for not participating in municipal elections, but also that the secretary of state should do more to promote elections and voting. She said she would be the “cheerleader in chief” of voting.
“For me as secretary of state, there would be no such thing as an off-year election,” she said. “I would make sure people know every election is important.”