LISBON - Primary election day has arrived in Columbiana County, with all 89 polling places opening at 6:30 a.m. today and closing at 7:30 p.m.
County Elections Board Director Adam Booth told the board at Monday's meeting he expects no more than 30 percent of registered voters to participate compared to nearly 47 percent during the last presidential year of 2008.
Booth speculated one of the reasons may be that the Republicans are the only party with a contested presidential primary, while in 2008 both parties had contested primaries, generating more interest among voters.
There are few contested primaries beyond the GOP presidential race, with the others being U.S. Senate (Republican), Ohio Supreme Court (Democrat), Congress (Democrat and Republican) and county recorder (Democrat).
There is also a dearth of ballot issues, with only four money issues and four liquor options on the ballot.
Booth said another indication of voter disinterest is the number of people who filed to vote early, or absentee. There were only 1,335 early-voting applications, of which 1,215 had been returned as of yesterday. About 2,000 residents voted early in the 2008 presidential primary.
In related news, John Mercer withdrew from the race for the Democratic Central Committee seat in the 3-B precinct in East Liverpool, even though his name will still appear on the ballot today. Mercer's withdrawal leaves Joan Stowers and Rebecca Payne as the other candidates.
Also, Monday was the filing deadline for anyone wanting to run for office as an independent candidate. The only person to do so is John Wargo, who is running for the county commissioner seat held by Democrat John Payne.
The News reported in February that Wargo, a Democrat, was circulating petitions to run for Payne's seat after the county Democratic Party appointed Payne over him to fill the vacancy created when former commissioner Penny Traina resigned at the end of the year to take a job in the private sector.
This sets the stage for a three-way race in the November election between Payne, Wargo and Republican Tim Weigle.
Wargo, a former commissioner and state representative, needed petitions with the signatures of 311 registered voters, and the petitions he submitted contained 462 names. The elections board staff will begin the process of verifying whether the signators are registered voters.