Government

Democrats Crossing Over but for Trump or Kasich?

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Irma Roberts of Austintown cast a Democratic ballot as she normally does, but she understands why many Democrats are pulling Republican lever this year to vote for Donald Trump.

“People are fed up with the government as it is, so they’re ready to try anything,” Roberts said at the Mahoning County Board of Elections, where she was dropping off an absentee ballot.

“But you might be jumping from the frying pan into the fire,” she added.

A steady trickle of voters headed in and out of the county elections board to vote, drop off ballots they already had filled out like Roberts, or find out where to vote or have other questions answered.

Bill Lego of Campbell, also dropping off his absentee ballot this morning, said he was surprised to hear reports that other Democrats were taking GOP ballots to vote for the businessman and reality show host. Like Roberts, he speculates that they are voting out of frustration.

“I don’t really know but I think it’s to show they’re tired of what’s happening in Washington,” he remarked.

By 10 a.m. at one precinct in suburban Mahoning County, 36 Republicans had voted and 35 Democrats. Poll workers there said they were astounded at the number of Democrats crossing over to vote in the Republican primary.

“I can tell by the ballot count,” one woman explained. “Typically it’s lopsided in favor of the Democrats. Of course, we don’t know who they’re voting for.”

Statewide, 500,544 absentee ballot applications had been received as of Monday, the office of Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted reported. As of 2 p.m. Monday, 417,537 voters had cast ballots.

The elections office reported that 226,710 Democratic ballots had been requested and 187,570 cast; 258,756 Republican ballots requested and 222,927 cast; 895 Green Party ballots requested and 304 cast; and 14,183 issues-only, nonpartisan ballots requested and 6,736 cast.

The Trumbull County Board of Elections issued 9,568 absentee ballots, including 5,862 Democratic and 3,612 Republican ballots. Director Stephanie Penrose said she didn’t have hard numbers available but when she entered votes she noticed “a lot of crossover, more than usual in a primary,” she said.

At the Columbiana County board of elections, director Adam Booth reported 2,122 absentee ballots had been issued, including 1,302 Republican and 801 Democratic ballots. He isn’t seeing as much crossover as he’s seeing unaffiliated voters requesting Republican ballots, he said.

Mahoning County issued 6,407 absentee ballots, according to a report from Husted’s office. That included 3,859 Democratic and 2,446 requested by mail.

Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO, acknowledged the frustrations that Americans are feeling during a get-out-the-vote event at the the Hillary Clinton campaign’s Niles staging location.

“You’ve got a system right now that’s manipulated against working families who are trying to play by the rules every single day,” he said. The economy is coming out of the Great Recession but many families haven’t seen benefits.

“Wages are stagnant benefits are being decreased and we’ve got to do something about that. So I think you’ve got a lot of frustration, you’ve got a lot of anger among the electorate right now because they are not sharing in the economic prosperity,” he continued.

In response to the reports regarding Democratic crossovers to Trump, he points out that the GOP frontrunner opposes the minimum wage, supports right-to-work laws and says wages are too high.

“Maybe his wages are too high,” Saunders countered. “It’s all about educating our members.”

Supporting Clinton is a “no brainer,” he told the crowd of about 30 volunteers at the Ohio for Hillary Niles office.

“She has the experience, she has the passion, she has the compassion to support working families across this country and she has plans,” he added. “She has real plans, not pie-in-the-sky stuff, but real plans that can support working families so they can share in this American dream.”

Clinton has been a proven “friend of labor,” said Tim Callion, business agent for Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 396.

Callion also acknowledged some members are taking Republican ballots. “You always have some people that are going to go maybe outside of what is traditionally done,’ he remarked. However, he also has heard that many people are taking GOP ballots to vote for Ohio Gov. John Kasich to thwart Trump in Ohio.

“You really don’t know until those ballots are actually looked at,” he said.

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Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.