Stark County sees super low turnout for light Aug. 2 primary

·5 min read

CANTON – Stark County had a special primary election Tuesday for state legislature.

It was hardly noticed.

Less than 6% of registered voters (14,119) cast ballots, according to unofficial results. It likely is a record low percentage.

The results do not include votes from late-arriving absentee ballots through the mail and those from provisional ballots where the voter's eligibility to vote is confirmed.

The super low turnout was not surprising as the ballots of most Stark County voters were devoid or nearly devoid of any competitive contest. No issues such as tax levies were on the ballot. The county did not have the usual level of campaigning by candidates or even the normal volume of campaign signs placed in yards and by roadways.

More: 'Best of our bad options' Federal judges order Ohio to use unconstitutional district maps

More: Ohio has a special primary election Tuesday. See what's on the ballot.

These were some races scattered among Stark County ballots.

For the southwestern piece of Stark County, who was going to be the man representing the new 31st Senate District who would serve on the Ohio Central Committee for the state Democratic Party and state Republican Party.

For most of Stark County, who would be the woman who would serve on the state GOP Central Committee. And would write-in Democratic candidate David Smith get the required 50 write-in votes to be the Democratic nominee in November for 48th District state representative representing northern Stark County?

Stark County Board of Elections Deputy Director Regine Johnson said her office would not be able to confirm if Smith got the necessary 50 write-in votes until Wednesday as elections staff has to manually check all the names that were written. Results say 282 write-in votes were cast in the contest.

In the race for Republican State Central Committee Woman for the 29th Senate District, Christine Mauer defeated longtime incumbent Sarah M. Brown by a 59% to 41% margin.

In the 31st Senate District contest for Ohio Democratic Central Committee man, Jason M. Stevens, with 1,631 votes or nearly 40% was leading K. William Bailey, who had 1,410 votes, or about 34% and Grant A. Hutcheson, who had 1,056 votes or less than 26%, according to preliminary results from the Ohio Secretary of State's office.

In the 31st Senate District contest for Ohio Republican Central Committee, Douglas S. Willis had nearly 47% of the vote or 4,207 votes. Well behind him were Patrick Hennessey at 1,802 votes or about 20%, Doug Deeken at 1,528 at under 17% and Charles E. Blake at 1,480 votes

Everything else on the ballot was already decided.

Winners of the Aug. 2 primary in Stark County

State Sen. Kirk Schuring. R-Jackson Township, was running unopposed to be the Republican nominee to win re-election for the 29th Senate District, which is Stark County without its southwestern segment. No Democrat has filed to run to challenge him.

In the 31st Senate District, which includes southwestern Stark County, former State Rep. Al Landis was unopposed to be the Republican nominee for state senator. No Democrat filed to run.

In the Ohio House 48th District Republican primary, State Rep. Scott Oelslager, R-North Canton was unopposed.

In the Ohio House 49th District, which is Canton, nearly all of Jackson Township and part of Plain Township, Democrat State Rep. Thomas West of Canton is unopposed to be the Democratic nominee for the seat. Jackson Township Trustee Jim Thomas is unopposed to be the Republican nominee challenging West.

In the 50th District, which stretches from Minerva to Massillon, State Rep. Reggie Stolzfus, R-Paris Township, was unopposed to being the Republican nominee for state representative for the district. No Democrat is seeking the seat.

In the 51st District, which includes Tuscarawas County and southwestern Stark County, Brett Hudson Hillyer was the only Republican seeking to be his party's nominee for state representative for that district. No Democrat filed to run.

In the race for Ohio Democratic Central Committee man for the 29th Senate District, Phil Giavasis, the Canton Municipal Clerk of Court, was unopposed. Curt Braden was unopposed for Ohio Republican Central Committee man for the 29th Senate District.

Former Stark County Commissioner Gayle Jackson was unopposed for a state Democratic Central Committee seat for women. Martha J. Campbell was unopposed for member of the Ohio Democratic State Central Committee. Antonia J. Blake was unopposed for member of the Ohio Republican State Central Committee.

Why was there an election in Ohio?

How did we end up with an August primary? Because the Ohio Supreme Court had ruled the new district maps unconstitutional due to partisan gerrymandering by Republicans in the Legislature and the Redistricting Commission, the primary contests that took place Tuesday did not take place with the May 3 primary. A federal appeals court in late May ruled that the primaries take place with district maps deemed unconstitutional on Aug. 2.

Johnson said the biggest problem with voting Tuesday was the loss of power at a large polling location in Jackson Township. An American Electric Power contractor as part of a scheduled outage shut off power to John Knox Presbyterian Church around 12:30 p.m.

Johnson said the contractor did this despite being told by poll workers that it was illegal to cut off the power to a polling location during an election. Poll workers had to continue to work without air conditioning. Voters voted on voting machines powered by backup batteries. The Stark County Sheriff's Office provided backup lighting and power outlets.

Johnson said elections staff was unable to reach anyone at AEP to turn the power back on. Finally with the Ohio Secretary of State's office trying to reach an executive at AEP, the right person got the message and power was restored around 3 p.m.

Johnson said no one was denied the ability to vote due to the outage.

Reach Robert at On Twitter: @rwangREP.

This article originally appeared on The Repository: No electoral nail biters in Stark County's low-key special primary