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Increase participation

It appears that fewer people participated in the Ohio primary election than usual, at least in the local area.

In a way, that is understandable. After all, our lives have been turned upside down in recent weeks as we have responded to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

In another way, though, the importance of the election was in no way diminished, and participation was really quite simple. Voters merely had to request and complete an absentee ballot application, then fill out and send in their ballot when it arrived in the mail.

According to Michael Shaheen, a member of the Belmont County Board of Elections, 10,645 absentee ballots were requested in the county. Of those, 9,548 had been returned by Tuesday evening. Any others postmarked by Monday that are received in the mail will count toward the final vote tally.

Belmont County has about 45,000 registered voters. So, total participation amounted to about 23 percent of those eligible to vote. That’s not a great participation rate.

Of course, this election marked the first in which nearly all ballots were cast by mail, in an effort to reduce contact among people at the polls and prevent the spread of COVID-19. That may have interfered with some people’s plans to vote, or it may have left them confused and uncertain how to do so.

We hope more people will make an effort to take part in the general election in the fall, and we urge elections officials to keep people informed about how to do just that.

Every vote still matters.

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