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Oct. 5—Early voting got under way Tuesday in Lucas County with a handful of voters taking the opportunity to kick off the general election that ends Nov. 2.

Endorsed Democratic candidates held a news conference to publicly urge people to vote.

Claiming the honor of being the first to vote was Cerssandra McPherson, an appointed at-large Toledo City Councilman seeking election to a full term on council.

“Come on out and early vote,” she urged. “We don’t know what the weather is going to be like on Nov. 2.”

LaVera Scott, director of the Lucas County Board of Elections, said about halfway through the day, “It’s been slow.”

According to the board’s website, 97 county voters cast ballots on the first day of early voting.

Among the races on the ballot are positions on area school boards, township boards of trustees, fiscal officers, and village and city mayors and councils.

In addition, voters will decide a slew of issues and levy requests.

In Toledo, voters will elect a mayor, choosing between incumbent Wade Kapszukiewicz, the endorsed Democrat, and Carty Finkbeiner, a former three-term mayor and independent Democrat. Toledo voters will also elect six at-large council members out of 12 contenders.

Issues on the ballot include a new countywide sales tax of a half-cent per dollar to fund the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority, which would serve the entire county for the first time if the issue succeeds. TARTA property taxes now collected in Toledo and six suburban communities would be eliminated if that happens

Toledo voters are also being asked to eliminate the September primary, which Toledo voters increasingly skip. The city’s late primary interferes with state and federal deadlines for the general election ballot.

An affirmative vote would amend the city charter and move the Toledo mayor and council primary up to May, which is when the state holds primary elections.

Asked why voters showed so little interest in the September primary, Democratic candidates who came together Tuesday blamed burnout from last year’s heavily contested election, the coronavirus pandemic that stretched out voting and still has some people afraid of being in public, and confusion sown by some claiming the 2020 election was tainted.

“In 2020 we expended a lot of political energy,” said Mac Driscoll, a candidate for city council at-large. “People are tired, they’re divided. We have a mainstream party attacking the integrity of our elections.”

Ms. McPherson said, “we’re just coming out of a pandemic. People are still a little bit cautious.” She said one way to revive interest in voting is for candidates to knock on doors.

Loren Sengstock, running for Sylvania Township Board of Trustees, said, “there’s just a lot of complacency due to the confusion and doubt that’s been cast on our election process.”

David Karmol, the chairman of the four-member Lucas County Board of Elections, said he and other members and board staff take every opportunity they can to reassure voters the election system is sound and that every legitimate vote is counted.

“It seems like people are just worn out from voting last year. It seems like there’s no end of voting,” Mr. Karmol said, recalling the extended 2020 primary because of the pandemic.”

Even before the primary and unsubstantiated claims of election fraud in 2020, participation in Toledo primary elections has been declining.

Participation has dropped steadily in Toledo in every mayoral primary election since 2001 when turnout was 27.1 percent. It fell to 22.2 percent in 2005, 18.4 percent in 2009, 15.2 percent in 2013, 13.5 percent in 2017, and 7.8 percent vote in the most recent primary election, according to board of election statistics. Turnout in the general elections is usually about twice as high as the primary.

Early voting is held at the board’s office at 1301 Monroe St. The schedule is: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday through Oct. 22, except for the Columbus Day holiday on Monday; 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Oct. 25 through 29; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 30; 1-5 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 31, and concluding with 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 1.

In addition, the board has received about 2,000 applications for absentee voter ballots, Ms. Scott said.

First Published October 5, 2021, 2:55pm