Portage County voter turnout nearly matches 2008 total

Alyssa DeGeorge

High voter turnout in Portage County benefitted President Barack Obama to help him win Ohio — the crucial swing state in this election.

A 68.9 percent voter turnout rate in Portage County came surprisingly close to the 72.1 percent of voters who cast their ballots in 2008.

Portage County Results


Maureen T. Frederick, Democrat 60%

Edith Bridget Pavlick, Republican 40%


Kathleen Chandler, Democrat 56.79%

Larry Solak, Republican 43.110%


Victor V. Vigluicci, Democrat 100%


Linda K. Fankhauser, Democrat 38.98%

Daniel Cartwright, Republican 61.02%


Dave Doak, Democrat 100%


Bonnie M. Howe, Democrat 58.91%

Kevin Fowler, Republican 41.09%


Vicki A. Kline, Democrat 100%


Michael A. Marozzi, Democrat 100%


Roger G. Marcial, Democrat 100%

Contested Issues

Portage County Health District

Yes: 49%

No: 51%

Issue 11: Kent City Income Tax Increase of 0.25%

Yes: 45.1%

No: 51%

That’s 74,545 of the county’s 108,154 registered voters, according to the final unofficial election results. Obama won the county with 51.35 percent of the vote compared to Romney’s 46.47 percent.

Brad Cromes, the deputy director of the Portage County Board of Elections, said he didn’t expect this to be a big turnout year based on the primary election. In 2008, 46.5 percent of registered voters showed up to vote at the primaries, while 2012 brought only 24.6 percent. He also thought the negative campaigns would depress voter turnout.

“People’s interest has really peaked in the last couple of weeks,” Cromes said. “I think the fact that it was perceived to be close [made] people want to participate and [got] people fired up on both sides.”

Jessica Barnes, assistant professor of visual communication design at Kent State, said she voted because she felt it was an important presidential election. She was also excited to be in such an influential state.

“I’m new to Ohio, so this is my first time voting in a swing state, so for me, it’s even more important to get my voice out there,” she said.

Sallie Messerly, 58, a registered nurse, said she’s voted in almost every election since she was 21, but knows a lot of people who don’t vote.

“It’s my habit. I just think it’s an important thing to do,” she said. “I know plenty of people who don’t vote. Basically they’re apathetic.”

Messerly wanted Romney to win because she’s concerned about the economy.

“My philosophy is kind of like, in my lifetime, it has not really made a change in my life whoever the president is, but I’m worried about our economy,” she said.

What happens when the polls close?

When the polls closed at 7:30 p.m. in Portage County Tuesday, the job of workers at the Portage County Board of Elections in Ravenna was nowhere near over.

Poll workers began arriving at the Portage County Board of Elections shortly after 8 p.m. with brightly colored bags of ballots.

The bags contain the poll-workers’ supplies, used and unused paper ballots, provisional ballots cast at that polling station and memory cards from the voting machines.

The Board of Elections releases reports as they count the ballots. At the end of the night, they release an unofficial election results report. This report doesn’t include provisional ballots or absentee ballots they haven’t received yet.

“Generally speaking, the unofficial results are the results, with a little bit of variation,” Bradley Cromes, the deputy director of the Portage County Board of Elections said. “In a close race, those absentee ballots that come in, or the provisionals when they’re finally included in the totals, can make a difference.”

The board stops receiving absentee ballots Nov. 16. They also have until that day to investigate provisional ballots.

The official vote isn’t certified until Nov. 27.

Cromes is excited to see public involvement up. In 1964, voter turnout was at 89.5 percent for the presidential general election, but then started to drop. Since 2004, however the turnout has been increasing. He said offering no-fault absentee might have helped by giving more people the opportunity to vote.

No-fault absentee means you don’t have be sick or out of the country to vote absentee. This is the second presidential election since the no-fault absentee option became available in 2006.

At the end of election night, 21,750 absentee votes were counted; 963 were still out.

“When you have one day, any number of contingencies can happen,” Cromes said. “You might just not feel like it that day, frankly, where you’ve got essentially election month — which is what we have now.”

They stop receiving absentee ballots Nov. 16, but don’t certify the official vote until Nov. 27.

Ohio also has a high number of provisional ballots, which won’t be factored in until ten days after the election. Portage County has 2,341 provisional ballots that are yet to be counted.

Provisional ballots are cast when there is a possible issue with a person’s eligibility to vote. This could happen if they don’t provide the correct identification or have recently changed their address.

“I think that there’s a lot of misunderstanding as to what the provisional ballots are and I think that makes people nervous about them,” Cromes said. “The other side of that coin is that provisional ballots give people an opportunity to vote who otherwise wouldn’t have one under Ohio law.”

Contact Alyssa DeGeorge at [email protected].