2020’s atypical primary ended with typical results

By Josh Ellerbrock - jellerbrock@limanews.com

LIMA — While Ohio’s 2020 primary election was unusual due to a few state-mandated twists and turns, the results of the all-absentee ballot election were fairly typical.

“We didn’t know which way it would go. The chairman (Keith Cheney) and I discussed it. He thought the numbers would go down,” Allen County Board of Elections Director Kathy Meyer said. “I didn’t know what it would do. It’s hard to read sometimes.”

Countywide, voter turnout for the 2020 primary came in at just over 24%. In comparison, the last presidential election primary in 2016 resulted in 42% voter turnout in Allen County.

Comparisons to 2016, however, may be unfair. While presidential election years tend to draw more voters in general, 2016 featured contested presidential primaries for both parties, which most likely interested more voters.

For 2020, only one political party had a contested primary, and it stopped being contested during the election itself when former Vice President Joe Biden could claim the de facto nomination.

The primary election from 2012 may be a better comparison for 2020. At that time, just over 31% of registered voters visited the polls compared to this year’s 24%.

County commissioner race

While Beth Seibert ended up winning the Republican nomination for county commissioner, a deep look at the precinct by precinct numbers illuminates just how the county reacted to the five candidates.

Unsurprisingly, each candidate did relatively well in their hometowns. Seibert, originally from Spencerville, grabbed over 90% of the vote in the small town. Amanda and Spencer townships also voted overwhelmingly in favor of her.

But while each candidate saw a bump from each of their sides of the county, Seibert was also helped up by a strong performance countywide. For example, the lowest vote percentage for Seibert came from a precinct in Lima’s 5th ward, which still delivered 18% of its vote to Seibert.

Competing candidates just couldn’t find the same traction, with some earning zero votes in multiple precincts.

Greg Stolly, who ended up with the second-most votes, posted his strongest voter percentages throughout Lima and Shawnee Township. Overall turnout, however, in Lima was relatively abysmal.

For example, Stolly grabbed the highest percentage of votes in a Lima-based precinct where voter turnout was just 6%.

Ohio 4th Congressional District

While local Democratic candidate Jeffrey Sites ended up winning the most votes in Allen County — 48% — the local turnout just wasn’t enough to propel him to be the Ohio 4th Congressional District Democratic candidate, especially with Shannon Freshour’s strong showing in parts of Allen County.

Freshour’s highest vote percentages were found concentrated near the Shawnee Township area and some of the neighborhoods surrounding Lima Central Catholic. Four precincts in that region, for example, ended up giving Freshour over 50% of the vote in the three-person race.

Presidential primary

By the time Ohio’s primary election had ended, Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vermont, had already dropped out of the contested Democratic presidential election, but he did gain some votes in Allen County.

Sanders performed the strongest, by voter percentage, in the precinct housing Bluffton University and in a precinct located in Lima’s 4th ward located in the southwest side of Lima near Lima Central Catholic.

Even in those precincts, however, Sanders only captured just over 25% of Democratic votes.


By Josh Ellerbrock


Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

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