Key races, issues cited for increased voter turnout in 2018 midterm elections

Local and statewide voter turnout in Tuesday’s 2018 midterm elections surpassed previous midterms by a significant margin, but the numbers didn’t approach the turnout for the 2016 presidential election around the Miami Valley.

Jan Kelly, Montgomery County Board of Elections director, said, “We were busy all day, answering phones, troubleshooting and getting all of our polling locations open and getting things put to rest.”

Election workers dealt with 202,419 ballots that were cast in Montgomery County, according to unofficial results.

MORE: Is Ohio a red state? Midterms may have changed state’s status as swing state

The number of voters casting their ballots raised some eyes for political observers monitoring the election.

Cedarville professor of political science Mark Caleb Smith said Tuesday’s turnout was high compared to other midterm elections, such as the 2014 election.

Much like 2010 voting, he said, the 2018 turnout benefited from competitive races for governor, U.S. Senate and State Issue 1.

“But the turnout in 2018 is higher and more robust than even 2010 results,” Smith said. “While the rates do not quite compare to a presidential election, as in 2016, they are still high for a midterm.”

Smith cited two specific factors driving turnout this year.

“First, we had a close, competitive contest for governor,” he said. “The seat was open and both parties put significant resources into the contest…. Second, I think Donald Trump played a role, both in Ohio and in other places. Trump inspired voters on both sides of the spectrum, both for his agenda and against his agenda. Trump did his best to nationalize this contest and turn it into a referendum on his policies.”

Of the state’s 8,070,917 registered voters, more than half, or 54.3 percent, cast a ballot, according to the Secretary of State’s office.

Around the Miami Valley, the numbers closely reflected the statewide trend: Montgomery County 53.5 percent, Greene County 57 percent, Warren County 61.5 percent.

However, some local cities and villages turned out in higher numbers, including Yellow Springs at 71 percent, Oakwood at 69 percent, Beavercreek at 64 percent, and Kettering at 60 percent.

MORE: Election highlights: DeWine wins, some familiar names lose, Dayton OKs marijuana issue and more

A plus was the enthusiasm at the polls from young voters and people who wanted to be a part of the process, according to former Dayton mayor Rhine McLin, who was at the Montgomery County Board of Elections on Tuesday night.

“What I saw today was an increase in voting and an excitement at the polls. Compared to the primary, which was kind of a low turnout, this has exceeded everybody’s expectations,” she said. “Another thing that has been really exciting about this election is that there were a lot of first-time voters.”

MORE: Election results: Ohio and local counties

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