Voters slowly showing up on Election Day in Cleveland

Some people gave final campaign pitches as voters filed in and out of the Franklin Circle Christian Church in Ohio City. [Gabriel Kramer / Ideastream Public Media]
Some people gave final campaign pitches as voters filed in and out of the polling location at Franklin Circle Christian Church in Ohio City. [Gabriel Kramer / Ideastream Public Media]
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The slow, but steady, stream of Cleveland voters filing into polling places on Election Day Tuesday morning was a far cry from the long lines of the 2020 presidenial election.

Voter turnout is traditionally much lower in non-presidential elections. Cuyahoga County saw nearly 71% voter turnout in the 2020 general election. This year, the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections expects about 30% voter turnout countywide. 

Despite those voting habits, Cleveland saw some slight changes in voting patterns in the primary election in September, which narrowed seven mayoral candidates to two.

In total, Cleveland's voter turnout in the 2021 primary was just over 16%, up from 13% in 2017. Cleveland's 2017 general election saw 24% turnout. Today will determine whether that mark is topped.

Ward 3 — which includes Downtown, Ohio City and Tremont on Cleveland's West Side, saw 9.6 percent voter turnout in the 2017 mayoral primary. In this year's primary in September, Ward 3 nearly doubled that turnout with 17.8 percent.

Ward 3 residents Stephanie Morrison Hrbek and George Hrbek, partners of 50 years, voted in Ohio City Tuesday morning.

"Voter engagement is critical to our democracy, as we all know, and voter supression is awful and happening all over our country," Stephanie Morrison Hrbek said.

The median birth year of Ward 3 voters in the September primary is 1981, the youngest of all Cleveland wards.

"I think the engagement of young people is better than I've seen it in quite a while," George Hrbek said.

Ohio City resident Lindsay Henton said voting in non-presidential elections is pretty new to him.  

"I think there's some controversial issues out there. People want to make sure their voices are heard. Hopefully it works out in whoever's favor, but at least we can say we voted, so we had a say," Henton said.

Also on the ballot in Cleveland is Issue 24, a proposed charter amendment that would strengthen the Community Police Commision's power over police policies and discipline. 

Stephanie Morisson Hrbek thinks those two ballot items go hand in hand.

"It's been a difficult race here in the end in terms of some of the divisiveness that's been rising up. And Issue 24 has become a wedge, I think, in terms of where people are going to fall," she said.

Polls close Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

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