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Low turnout expected for Tuesday's election

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:03 PM

Voters go to the polls Tuesday to decide who will represent the area in Washington, but many expect a low turnout.

Polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Both Democrat Robin Weirauch and Republican Robert Latta have said in campaign stops in Norwalk that getting people to the polls is the biggest hurdle in this special election. The two are competing for the congressional seat left open when Paul Gillmor (R-Tiffin) died unexpectedly in September after a fall in his Washington home.

Weirauch, of Napoleon, is trying for the seat a third time. She lost to Gillmor with 33 percent of the vote in 2004 and 43 percent of the vote in 2006. Weirauch made three trips to Norwalk recently in her campaign, including a visit Sunday with Sen. Sherrod Brown. Gov. Ted Strickland toured uptown Norwalk with Weirauch in an earlier visit.

Latta, of Bowling Green, is in his second try for the seat. He lost by 27 votes to Gillmor in the primary election in 1989. Latta's father, Del Latta, held the seat from 1959 to 1989. Latta visited Norwalk last week to speak at the McKinley Club dinner.

Sharon Locke, deputy director of the board of elections, said only 27 percent of eligible voters showed up at the polls in November and she expects fewer to vote Tuesday. She said preparing for the special election has been challenging.

Each election requires 208 poll workers to cover the 52 precincts in the county. Locke was still looking for two workers last week, but said today the board has every precinct covered. "If anyone cancels today, we'll be scrambling," she said.

Two Willard High School students will be working at the polls in Willard and New Haven, Locke said.

She said the Ohio House of Representatives passed a $1.1 million bill last week to reimburse counties for the cost of the special election. Just the pay for poll workers in Huron County adds up to $20,000, Locke said.

David Kniffin, chairman of the Huron County Republican party, said he has been surprised by the number of people he's talked to who don't know about the election. "It's such an odd situation," he said. "No one in my memory has ever voted in December to fill a congressional seat."

He said he hopes people take the time to vote because of the importance of the election. "It's important because we're electing a congressman from our district who is going to Washington to make policy," Kniffin said. "It's a critical time in our history. Some very important decisions are going to be made."

Huron Democratic Party Chairman Dick Hauser said his party also has worked hard at getting out voters.

"I'm sure it will be low, but I don't know which party will favor," Hauser said. "Because of the importance of the race, and the fact it is a special election, both parties have used telephone banks and direct mailings more than we have seen in the past."

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