By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
Voter turnout in Wood County for Tuesday’s primary election was a weak 11.2 percent.
That means nearly 90 percent of the registered voters left the fate of the Bowling Green City School’s income tax renewal and the city council candidate race up to the few people who showed up at the polls.
Of the 38,424 registered voters in the areas of Wood County with items on the ballot, just 4,302 voted.
The low turnout means that two Green Party candidates made it into the November election by getting just 41 and 31 votes.
It’s not that voters didn’t have opportunities to cast their ballots. Early voting was offered 30 days prior to Tuesday’s election. The Wood County Board of Elections was open every weekday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The week prior to the election, the hours were extended to 7 p.m., and the office was open last Saturday and Sunday for voters.
The exact voter turnout in Bowling Green is not calculated by the board of elections, since the primary election had issues in Bowling Green, the Bowling Green school district area, Henry Township, Jerry City, Tontogany, and Rossford school district.
But it is known that overall, the turnout was 11.2 percent.
“That’s a pretty low percentage,” even for a primary election, said Terry Burton, director of the Wood County Board of Elections.
The turnout in some ways is disappointing to Burton.
“The democracy side of me says I wish people participated in the process,” he said. “We go through the same process, no matter how many vote.”
The last time Bowling Green had a primary election for local candidates was in the 1990s, Burton said. “So it’s kind of hard to have a baseline.”
Judging voter apathy in Bowling Green is also difficult for a couple reasons. First, the Republican party had no competition in council primary races. So Republicans may have been less motivated to show up at the polls. Second, the vote totals in the Democratic and Green Party council races don’t necessarily add up to the number of voters, since citizens were allowed to vote for two candidates – but some may have chosen to vote for just one.
The turnout was so low that the small vote margins between council candidates did not trigger automatic recounts, Burton said.
Though the provisional ballot still need to be added in, and some outstanding absentee ballots postmarked before Monday may still straggle in, it is very unlikely that a recount will be required, Burton said.
In the Democratic race for Bowling Green City Council, Sandy Rowland was the clear top vote getter with 1,001 votes. The slim 11 vote margin between the next two candidates – Holly Cipriani with 423 votes and Mark Hollenbaugh with 412 votes – is not enough to challenge with an automatic recount. The formula for figuring recounts would have required a gap of five or few votes to make the recount automatic.
It’s mathematically possible, but highly unlikely that the small number of provisional and outstanding absentee votes will trigger a recount, Burton said.
The Green Party tallies were even closer, with BeverlyAnn Elwazani the lead vote getter with 41 votes followed by Carolyn Kawecka with 31 votes. Close behind was Helen Kay Dukes with 29 votes.
The turnout in that race, however, was so low that the calculation for determining recounts still doesn’t kick in. “Even a single vote would not get them a recount,” Burton said.