The 2017 General Election saw roughly the same percentage of registered voters participating as in 2013, but with 2,000 more registered voters this year than four years ago, more total votes were cast this election.
In 2013, 26.76 percent of registered voters cast ballots. This year, 26.52 percent of registered voters turned out, but 7,367 ballots were cast in Highland County compared to 6,895 four years ago. This year’s results are considered unofficial until the election board conducts an official canvass.
Steve Witham, elections administrator with the Highland County Board of Elections, said Tuesday that a substantial increase in voter registration for last year’s presidential race accounted for the increase from 25,770 registered voters in 2013 to 27,774 registered voters this year.
The increase in voters was evident in several races. For example, in the Hillsboro City Council at-large race that saw four candidates vying for three seats, 2,591 total votes were cast, which reflects each voter being allowed to vote for up to three candidates. Four years ago, with five candidates competing for three at-large seats, 66 fewer total votes were cast, 2,525.
Both in 2013 and 2017, Republican Justin Harsha led the at-large balloting. In 2013, with votes being spread among five candidates, Harsha ended up with 620 votes. This year, with just four candidates competing for the at-large spots, Harsha received 874 votes.
Harsha’s total was just 37 fewer than the total votes received by Republican Lee Koogler, who ran unopposed for council president and finished with 911 votes. According to election officials, 321 voters did not cast a vote for president of council this year.
Four years ago, when Koogler also ran unopposed for council president, 258 voters chose not to cast a vote for that position, when Koogler ended up with 752 votes.
The second place at-large finisher four years ago was Dick Donley, with 554 votes. This year, with Donley not seeking reelection, Democrat Brandon Leeth finished second with 644 votes.
Republican Ann Morris took the third and final winning spot both in 2013 and this year. Four years ago she received 522 votes, improving on that total this year by 21 votes, ending up with 543. Republican Tracy Aranyos finished fourth this year, just 13 votes behind Morris.
Looked at another way, of the 1,232 total Hillsboro voters who went to the polls to cast up to three votes among four candidates, Harsha received 71 percent of the vote, Leeth got 52 percent, and Morris received 44 percent of the vote. Aranyos fell short with 43 percent.
There are still 37 provisional ballots to be considered in Highland County, with 14 of those in Hillsboro, enough to impact the close race for city treasurer, where Democrat Patricia Burns currently leads Republican Amy Robinson by just four votes, 589-585.
Seven provisional votes are in the 2nd Ward, where Republican incumbent Claudia Klein leads Democrat Jason Burns by just two votes, 136-134. The provisional votes are being investigated and will be determined on Nov. 21.
Outside of Hillsboro, it did not appear that provisional ballots would impact other races. Provisional ballots are cast when there are issues at the polls about a registration or change of address. Election officials investigate to make sure a voter is legally registered and did not cast a vote at two different locations, along with making sure the voter lives in the correct jurisdiction where they cast their ballot.
Another high-interest race this year was for Liberty Township trustee, with six candidates vying for two positions. Four years ago, 2,609 votes were cast, with each voter allowed to cast a vote for two candidates. This year, 3,292 votes were cast, with Tyler Kelch and Jerry Williams taking the top spots with 773 and 696 votes respectively.
In 2013, in the race for Hillsboro City Schools Board of Education, 5,632 votes were cast, with each voter permitted to vote for up to three candidates. This year, 6,294 votes were cast, again with each voter allowed to choose up to three candidates, and with Larry Lyons, Beverly Rhoads and Jerry Walker claiming victory.
In other races showing the increased votes compared to four years ago, 865 votes were cast in the contested race for Greenfield Village Council in 2013. This year, 1,024 votes were cast in that contested race, with Eric Borsini and Phil Clyburn winning.
In 2013, 426 votes were cast in the contested Lynchburg Village Council race, with 665 votes cast this year in that race, which was again contested, with David Minton, Tagg Pendleton, Christine Hamlin and Trudi Tedrick claiming victory.
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.