CLEVELAND — Today’s election is expected to generate only a few headlines beyond the fate of mayors in some suburban cities, a few tax issues and the potential tweak to Cuyahoga County government that could allow voters to pick the next sheriff.
But the day has big meaning to elections officials.
They use it to test new technology and get ready for the upcoming presidential election. During the race for White House, turnout surges in the primary and general elections and can take on historic meaning.
So smaller elections, like today’s, allow officials to work out the kinks.
43 counties in Ohio tried new voting systems, according to Secretary of State Frank LaRose.
In Lorain County, all voters were greeted by machines with touch-screens that produce a receipt.
Other counties were expanding their use of electronic poll books, which allow officials and the public to monitor turnout in real time.
Campaigns use turnout data to manage their get-out-the-vote efforts, especially in presidential years.
Voters on the state’s purge list also got the opportunity to cast a special ballot and potentially reactivate their registration. Mike West, a spokesman for the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, said officials will flag provisional ballots cast by those on the inactive list and work with the voters to update their information.
Today’s election also gave officials and board of elections staffs a chance to refine cyber-security measures.
And Ohio's new secretary of state used the day prepare for next year, since he will get the blame if things go wrong.
"This is really our first chance for my team to make sure that we are ready for the rapid response work we potentially will have to do next year when the eyes of the world are on Ohio," LaRose said.
He said that while he was also focused on encourage higher participation in today’s election, he expected officials to use the day to go over their “pre-flight checklist” in preparation for next year.