The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

May 9, 2013

Election goes well with fewer precincts

By MARK TODD - mtodd@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

JEFFERSON —

Ashtabula County’s first election since streamlining the number of its precincts went well, although the big test will come in November’s heavier turnouts, officials said Wednesday.

Tuesday’s special election featured 70 of the 104 precincts created by election board members earlier this year, down from the 127 that had been in place for many years. The move, a long time in the planning, was done to improve efficiency and cut costs.

Anticipating some confusion on Tuesday, the election positioned people equipped with computer tablets at four of the busier polling places. The tablets, rented for this election, contained voter registration information and helped workers quickly direct voters to their proper precinct.

The arrangement helped make the debut painless — but so did a low voter turnout, said Duane Feher, deputy director. “Things went pretty smooth, but we also had a small turnout,” he said.

The 70 precincts involved in Tuesday’s issues-only election contain 44,469 registered voters. Only 7,391 of them — about 16.6 percent — cast a ballot, according to the board.

Election officials seemed happy with the help provided by the computer tablets, and may consider adding more for the fall general election, Feher said.

“It’s another tool to help ease the stress of voting,” he said. “The board will evaluate them and make a determination at a later date. But I think we were all pleased with what we heard and saw.”

Some 60 provisional ballots — votes cast outside of the assigned area — need to be verified and added into the totals before the election board can certify results, Feher said. The board plans to meet May 20 to decide the eligibility of the provisionals, with the final count starting a few days later, he said.

No recounts are expected to result when provisionals are put into the mix, Feher said. The tightest race involved the Grand Valley Public Library levy, which was approved by an unofficial eight-vote margin, 235-227, or 51-to-49 percent.