MARIETTA - Election officials think the Nov. 5 election will have the smallest voter turnout in recent years in Washington County.
Despite several proposed levies, liquor issues and contested races for township trustees, city council representatives, school board members, auditors, treasurers, and more, this year's general election lacks the state and national issues that drove voters the previous four years.
"The kind of election and what's on the ballot can affect (voter turnout)," said Tara Hupp, director of the Washington County Board of Elections.
Presidential elections, such as last year's, always draw larger voter turnouts. Turnput in Washington County in 2012 was 69.9 percent with had 29,995 ballots cast.
In 2011, Senate Bill 5, a referendum aimed at limiting collective bargaining, drew voters. The previous year, the ballot contained an issue about Ohioans' abiliity to choose health care coverage. In 2009, Ohioans voted on whether to allow casinos to be built in certain cities.
"The last couple odd election years there have been some big state-driven issues on the ballot. This year there is no statewide issue period. It's all local," said Hupp.
Without the state issues, many area residents have a laissez faire attitude about the upcoming election.
Washington State Community College student Adam Farmer, 20, said he is undecided whether he will vote.
"I'll wait until I know more," he said.
Marietta resident Tyler Ahrens, 19, said he will only vote if he has time to fully research the candidates.
"I like to take time to weigh my options, find out more about the candidates and what's going on. I think it's irresponsible to go vote without knowing," he said.
The Board of Elections has received 1,155 absentee ballots so far this year. In-person absentee voting is more than halfway over.
While that alone is not enough to gauge final voter turnout, it does indicate that early voting turnout will not near that seen during the past two years, said Hupp.
Last year, the presidential election drew a total of 10,151 absentee voters. And as voters decided on Senate Bill 5 in 2011, 4,601 absentee voters returned a ballot.
Those who have requested absentee ballots this year represent a good sampling of the county, said Hupp.
So far, Marietta West and Aurelius are the only two precincts where no one has requested an absentee ballot.
Aurelius Township resident Ted Hoffert, 52, said he does plan to vote this year, mostly because he always votes.
"I went and voted (on the school levy) this spring. I've always been a registered voter and I always vote," he said.
Hoffert said he will find out more about the Aurelius issues, which include contested township trustees and Caldwell Exempted Village School District Board of Education members, in the upcoming weeks.
So far 1st Ward voters in Marietta have cast the most absentee ballots. Nearly 80 people in the ward's two precincts have already voted.
In the Matamoras/Grandview, Independence, Ludlow, and Lawrence precincts, where voters are deciding on a 9.1-mill additional tax levy for Frontier Local School District, there have been 16 absentee ballots cast.
The deadline for the elections board to receive a request for an absentee ballot to be mailed is noon Nov. 2.
Voters can also vote early from 8 a.m. to noon at the board office and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 4 at the board's new location at 204 Davis Ave.
Polls are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on election day.