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Despite High Expectations, Ohio Voting Turnout Decreases

This story was written by Rebecca Black, The Post

Voter turnout in Ohio and Athens County decreased from the 2004 presidential election and fell short of the Ohio secretary of states projected 80 percent participation.

Across Ohio, the unofficial voter turnout was about 60 percent, compared to 71.8 percent in 2004 and 63.7 percent in 2000.

Officials reported 29,442 people voted in Athens County, which was 59.2 percent of the 49,034 registered voters in the county.

Absentee votes, which include early voting and traditional absentee ballots, account for 9,227 of these votes.

The board will finish counting provisional ballots in a few days, but provisional ballots will not be tallied until Nov. 25, said Penny Brooks, deputy director for the Athens County Board of Elections.

I think (voter turnout) was quite large, she said. It was very nice to see people that interested in voting after we do all that work.

This years turnout in Athens County was less than the 67.8 percent voter turnout in the 2004 election, when 30,586 people of the 45,103 registered voters went to the polls.

However, Athens County voter turnout this year was still higher than the 53.5 percent turnout in the 2000 presidential election, when 25,888 people voted, according to the Ohio Secretary of States Web site.

Associate professor of communication studies Benjamin Bates said the lower voter turnout did not make sense.With the amount of registration drives weve had and the constant encouragement to vote, the drop is quite surprising, he said. All the factors going into this election should have led to higher turnout.

Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner has not released any statements on the lower voter turnout, according to an office spokesman.

Voting procedures and machines caused few problems in Athens County this year, Brooks said. Election Day included on-site technical support for the ballot readers and extra poll workers.

Top officials for the Athens County Board of Elections finally got a few hours of sleep yesterday morning after staying awake for almost 46 hours to keep Election Day running smoothly, Brooks said.

Thats what this job is, she said. You do what you need to do to make sure voters can vote. You have to really like your job to do this."

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