YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Voter turnout for Tuesday’s primary election is not expected to be very high.
Political experts said that’s typical for a primary year with no major statewide issues on the ballot. The Mahoning County Board of Elections is hoping for 28 percent of registered voters to cast a vote, but the actual turnout could be far lower.
Early voting was slow, so they’re not expecting much of a change Tuesday. The rest of the state is seeing low turnout as well.
So what will low voter turnout mean for issues on the ballot? William Binning, director emeritus of the Youngstown State University political science program, said low turnout is not really his biggest concern.
“The biggest concern I have about voting is how much knowledge do they have? Do they know who the candidates are and what their credentials are and what the issues are? Maybe we are better off if they are not voting,” Binning said.
He said low voter turnout can seriously impact some local issues, especially when it comes to those concerning property tax.
Young adults, those between 18 and 25, are considered the least likely to vote, so we went to YSU to find out whether students there were planning on heading to the polls. The results were a mixed bag.
“It does not affect me that much yet. But I am sure when I am older I will vote,” said freshman Leah Vitek, who recently turned 18.
She said she plans to study for finals.
A generation ago, students on college campuses like YSU were among the most eager to get out and vote.
“A lot of that was driven by the draft. In other words, a strong anti-war sentiment. But much of that was driven by the fact that at that time, the country had a draft. We have not had a draft since then,” Binning said.
Many college students we spoke with said they only vote when it is for a bigger election, like governor or president. But, Binning said those young adults are not the only age group not voting this time around since the low turnout is pretty much expected to be across the board.
“The general public is not very interested in this election, so consequently, you get a very low turnout,” Binning said. “It does matter. It’s sort of a measure of democracy how high your voter turnout is and the United States is usually on the low end compared to other European countries.”
But not all students at YSU fit the stereotype. Kelly Sullivan and John Cruz both plan to vote on Tuesday.
“The only way I can get my government to speak for me is by doing my part,” said senior Kelly Sullivan. “There’s no better way to acknowledge your opinion and how you want the government to be than with your vote.”
Both said they make a point of voting in every election. But even they understand why some voters don’t.
“I think people more so in recent years have been kind of disheartened by the fact that they feel like their government is not speaking for them,” Sullivan said.