Cleveland dropping voter turnout has experts searching for solutions

CLE mayoral race expected to generate 30% turnout

CLEVELAND - The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections reported just a 13% voter turnout in the Cleveland mayoral primary, and it's hoping for a much better turnout during the Nov. 7 general election.

Board of Elections Director Pat McDonald told News 5 he's anticipating a 30% voter turnout, but is hoping more voters will take the time to cast their ballots, especially younger voters.

McDonald pointed to statistics that showed dropping voter turnout, with 58,786 voters participating in the 2013 Cleveland mayoral primary, but just 32,826 voting in the 2017 primary.

Dr. Mark Salling, with the Cleveland State Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs, told News 5 that more Millennials need to get involved with the process, to stop the trend of receding voter turnout.

Salling said social media may also play a role in growing apathy.

The Millennials have a lower participation rate," said Salling.

"Maybe they think their influence is only important on social media, that that's where they get their voices heard."

Jim Rokakis, who's been in 11 elections in Cuyahoga County and Cleveland since 1977, believes dropping voter turnout is alarming.

Rokakis said growing political debate on social media may have jaded voters, causing them not to cast their important votes.

"It is a stunning decline in voter participation," said Rokakis

"Almost nine out of ten people in the city didn't vote."

"The lack of confidence in systems. These cries of 'fake news' have shaken people's foundations, their beliefs in systems.  As a result they figure why vote, it's not going to matter.  The two parties are alike, the candidates are both bad."

Still, McDonald believes voter education is the key to improvement at the polls.

He said voters should know their voting locations in advance, and remember to bring identification.

McDonald pointed to additional resources on the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections website.



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