By Sandy Scarmack
Herald Staff Writer
MERCER COUNTY —
Tuesday’s municipal election races were probably the smoothest in recent history, according to Jeff Greenburg, the county’s director of elections.
Apart from “some little hiccups” here and there, voter turnout of about 28 percent was typical, he said. Of the 72,226 registered voters in the county, 19,574 voted.
“I’ve long ago given up trying to get in the minds of the voters. I came up with a theory I call 30, 50, 70. If you get 30 percent turnout in a municipal race, 50 percent in a gubernatorial race and 70 percent in a presidential race, you’re doing good,” Greenburg said Wednesday. “It’s unrealistic to think you’ll get 100 percent of registered voters. There was a time, back in the 1960s, when presidential elections would draw 80 to 90 percent. But what we had yesterday really is normal now,” he added.
The minor events were some machine calibrations and re-setting the time on some machines, he said.
The next step, he said, is to tally up the absentee ballots his office received. Two races that could be affected by those votes are the Sharon council race and the Shenango Township supervisors race.
In Sharon, Bob Lucas is 26 votes behind Ed Palanski and 56 absentee ballots are outstanding. In Shenango Township, only three votes separate candidates from a two-year supervisors seat.
“So mathematically, it’s still possible for those races to change,” Greenburg said.
“I think the winners in those places could bring out the champagne but maybe not pop the cork just yet,” Greenburg said.
Those are two examples where absentee votes have the potential to change the outcome, but there could be others, he said.
He hopes to have all those votes counted and to update the county’s website by late Friday afternoon, he said.
Next week, he said, his office will tackle the write-ins. Write-in candidates may make a difference in 41 races, most notably in school board contests in Commodore Perry and Mercer and in West Salem Township and Greenville.
The question of whether to show identification at the polls wasn’t an issue, he said, though he said he personally disagrees with the state’s plan to do voter outreach at the polls on Election Day. “I didn’t expect any issues here. I think our voters have experienced what we would need to see, if that law is upheld, but I don’t think the polls are the appropriate place to do it.”
Tuesday night, The Herald was unable to get the results of contested school board races that affect residents of Wilmington and French Creek townships because the school districts cross county lines.
Unofficial results were available Wednesday for Wilmington and Crawford Central school board races.
Apparent winners of four-year seats on Wilmington School Board and their unofficial vote totals are: Joe Kollar, 1,103; incumbent Lynn L. Foltz, 891; Jennifer Hunt, 866; Scott Frederick, 868; and incumbent Autumn Miller, 940. Carrie Hahn, a Democrat, got 454 votes.
With a total of five seats on Crawford Central School Board on the line, the only contested race, the battle for a two-year seat resulting from a resignation, was unofficially won by Glenn Tuttle.
In the competition to fill the remainder of the term of Kevin Maziarz, who resigned in April, Republican Tuttle captured 2,097 votes while Democrat Herbert Riede received 1,447.
The Herald’s sister CNHI newspapers, The Meadville Tribune and New Castle News, contributed to this story.