YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Boards of election in Ohio say this election season will be one to remember, with nearly 1.8 million people in the state either joining or switching their political party in the March primary.
“I’ve been here 28 years and I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Joyce Kale-Pesta, director of the Mahoning County Board of Elections.
When voters cast their ballots for the presidential primary, Kale-Pesta and her team needed extra ballots for people who wanted to vote Republican.
“Approximately 13,000 registered Republicans when the primary began and at the end of the primary, they had 34,000,” she said.
According to data released by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, over 115,000 Democrat voters switched to the Republican party for the presidential primary. More than 34,000 people made the switch from the Republican to Democratic side.
Many more unaffiliated voters chose a side as well.
“It’s a good feeling,” said Stephanie Penrose, director of the Trumbull County Board of Elections. “We like to have 100 percent instead of 50 percent in turnout. It just makes you feel good as a human being to see people get out and get involved.”
Kale-Pesta says that when voters show up, they are not just voting for president, but also for those running for less high-profile positions.
“It’s important to every county, especially with the cuts in funding to the counties and to the different programs to the counties, who is our state rep, who is our governor, who is our congressman.”
The boards of election in Ohio will be working around the clock until November’s general election.
Voters who wish to remain unaffiliated can only vote on official question and issues ballots during the primary, but will still be able to vote in the general election.