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Voter turnout lower than historic average in Athens County

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Athens County Board of Elections. File Photo by Morgan McCarthy.

Last Tuesday, voters went to the polls to make decisions on issues like Marsy’s Law statewide and TACO locally, but turnout to the polls was low on state, city and campus levels.

Voter turnout in Athens county during last Tuesday’s election was below average compared to general elections in the past, with turnout resting at a county-wide average of 26 percent. Student voter turnout was even lower, with only 2.6 percent of registered student voters showing up to Baker University Center to vote.

Attendance dropped from the 33.98 percent overall turnout in 2014, and the 36.82 percent overall voter turnout in 2015.  

The Director of the Athens Board of Elections Debra Quivey said that voter turnout in general was very low across the state. As of now, the 2017 Ohio overall voter turnout has not been made available on the Ohio Secretary of State website.

She also said that she expected a larger early voter turnout among students to vote in favor of TACO.

“We had prepared to be busy in here because of TACO.  We didn’t see that,” Quivey said.  

“With early voting, we can usually see the trend of how things will go… and we did not see the early voting turnout of students.”

In particular, South and West Greens both had lower than average voter turnout for students, with just 16 students voting on South Green and 19 students voting on West Green. Despite low turnout, voter registration percentages are very high among students.  For example, East Green has 1,488 registered voters, though only 48 students voted.  

Quivey said that many students register to vote in high school and fail to change their address to their dorm or campus residence. She also said that some students may have voted absentee in their home county.

“(Students) have high voter registration, they just don’t turn out to vote,” Quivey said.

“Students come out to vote in presidential elections and come out to vote in gubernatorial elections.”

According to to the Board of Elections website, only 11 students within the six all-student voting precincts voted no on TACO while 142 students who voted yes, equalling a 77.5 percent yes vote among students. The overall vote was 76 percent in favor. On South Green in particular, every voter was in favor of TACO.

The low voter turnout among students during the 2017 general election contrasts with the student voter turnout turnout during the 2016 presidential election, where student voter turnout was 55.88 percent.

Statistics on student voter turnout do not include Jefferson Hall, Bromley Hall or Voigt Hall because they are part of separate voting precincts and therefore it cannot be determined what percentage of students voted in these halls.

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