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Voter participation dips during overall ‘smooth’ presidential primary election

| March 20, 2024

NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (March 20, 2024) – Tuscarawas County Board of Elections Director Gail Garbrandt says it was a smooth primary election day at the board office and the polls Tuesday.

Garbrandt says the board received fewer calls about issues than normal Tuesday morning.

“That could be that our election workers are seasoned and they kind of know what to do, or that our training is connecting,” she said. “So that was really good.”

She says it wasn’t a very busy day as unofficial voter turnout in the county was at about 21.8 percent.

“If you want something to compare that to, in March of 2020, the turnout was 26.32 percent,” said Garbrandt. “And that was a pandemic.”

The presidential nominations were already determined before Ohioans went to vote this week. But there were still contested races for U.S. Senate, Congress, and Ohio House.

Board members will be meeting Monday to certify the results of this week’s primary and make them official. Garbrandt says that’s sooner than in past years because of newer voting laws passed by the legislature.

“It used to be that we had to wait 10 days after the election to start the certification process.”

As a result, mail-in ballots postmarked by this past Monday only have until this coming Sunday to arrive and be counted during certification. Garbrandt says the board received 17 or 18 countable ballots in the mail today alone.

“They were all postmarked like the 12th and 13th of March, so you can kind of see the lag time with the mail,” she said. “I would imagine we would continue to get countable absentees tomorrow and Friday.”

The outcome in one particular Republican County Central Committee race could change at certification. That race currently has William Groves leading Brian Swartzwelder 55 to 54. Garbrandt says board members will be opening a provisional ballot Monday that could put the race at a tie.

“If it’s tied, the resolution is a flip of a coin.”

Meanwhile she says the board had just one person file for the November election ahead of this past Monday’s deadline for non-partisan candidates. That was Tuscarawas County Sheriff Orvis Campbell, who changed his party affiliation from Democrat to independent late last year. The board must still validate the signatures he collected.

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