Door To Door: What It All Comes Down To

Justin Bibb, Sandra Williams, Dennis Kucinich, Zack Reed, Basheer Jones, Kevin Kelley and Ross DiBello sit on a stage at a candidate forum in Cleveland, Ohio.
Cleveland mayoral candidates speak at a forum in West Park. [Nick Castele / Ideastream Public Media]

After Jackson: Cleveland's Next Mayor Podcast

Cleveland will take a first step toward a new mayoral administration today when primary voters winnow the candidate field down to two.

As of Monday night, more than 13,500 Clevelanders had already made their choice, casting ballots by mail or early in person at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections.

You can see where in the city those voters live, thanks to Angelo Trivisonno, an Ohio City resident who turned BOE turnout data into a handy interactive map.

Four years ago, about 13 percent of registered voters cast ballots in Cleveland’s municipal primary. It’s not saying too much, but I think we’ll beat that number this year. If Cleveland hits 20 percent turnout, that will be a success in my book.

Last year, we examined why 2020’s turnout disappointed many in Cleveland. This year, our Gabriel Kramer explored reasons young people often sit out local races.

Blame population decline, blame the disruptions of COVID-19, blame Cleveland’s status as one of our country’s poorest cities, blame a general sense that voting may not alleviate people’s daily struggles.

There are lots of factors to blame. But I at least wouldn’t waste time wagging a finger at the non-voters themselves.

In my view, the responsibility really lies with the candidates and the campaigns. They have to organize the neighborhoods, speak to voters’ concerns, give people a reason to show up – and put in the groundwork to make sure the ballots come in.

Today will be the first test of whether a competitive local election, with multiple campaigns pounding doors and pavement across the city, will cajole more voters to the polls.

But it’s not the final word on turnout. There’s still a general election in November, after all.

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