Local boards of elections don’t know what to expect in November

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As expected, voter turnout for Tuesday's primary in Ohio was low

(WKBN) – Tuesday’s primary in Ohio was the first in which most of the votes came by mail. It was an unprecedented Election Day.

“I think it went very well, considering we’ve never had an election of this type before,” said Stephanie Penrose, director of the Trumbull County Board of Elections.

“It was hectic in some ways and easy in some ways,” said Joyce Kale-Pesta, director of the Mahoning County Board of Elections. “It was confusing for the voters.”

It was the election with three different dates. The first, March 17, was postponed until June 2 over coronavirus concerns. Then once again, it was moved to April 28 with no in-person voting.

As expected, voter turnout was low.

“People are in their habits and their habits is to go to the polls,” Penrose said. “I mean, quite frankly, a lot of people don’t trust all mail elections for some reason.”

Only about 23% of voters cast ballots in Mahoning County, compared to Trumbull County’s 27%.

Ballots postmarked by April 27 will still be counted.

Now elections officials are looking ahead to the next one.

At this point, it’s unknown how the general election in November will play out — whether it’s done similarly to the primary with absentee ballots only or in person as usual.

Kale-Pesta said she’d like to know soon.

“If we’re going to have mail voting, there would be a lot of changes I would want to make to make it more consistent, to make it easier on my staff, to make it easier on the voters,” she said.

“We’re planning both ways right now,” Penrose said. “We have no idea of what to expect so we’re preparing mentally for whatever can be thrown at us.”

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