Real Horse Race Coincides with End of Early Voting

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – It’s over. “Hillary Clinton” claimed victory over “Donald Trump” by a head. At least on the racetrack.

Jockeys dressed as the Republican and Democratic presidential nominees – their helmets adorned with wigs mimicking the two candidates’ distinctive coiffures — raced Monday afternoon at Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course in Austintown.

Clinton – jockey Jane Magrell – bested Trump – jockey T.D. Houghton – with a time of 49:46 for the half-mile run, as opposed to the seeming eternity many observers feel the actual presidential contest has lasted.

“You heard it here first. Hillary has won the pre-election race,” the track announcer declared. Moments later, he said Trump was claiming “foul,” a claim that was disallowed another two minutes later and the trophy was presented to Magrell.

The race, which raised money for the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund, was the brainchild of the racino’s general manager, Mark Galle, said Bill Bork, racing services manager.

“I said, ‘Mark, that’s a fantastic idea. We’ve got to run with it. This would be a great benefit and a fun way to bring everybody together,” he added.

“The election season always gets very harried and sometimes a little brutal, particularly towards the end,” said Christina Peloquin, director of marketing. “What we really wanted to accomplish with this event was to bring a bit of levity back to our everyday lives and take moment to have lighthearted fun.”

The contest between the real-life Clinton and Trump, concludes today, with poling places in Ohio opening at 6:30 a.m.

At the Trumbull County Board of Elections, 554 in-person ballots were cast Monday, Stephanie Penrose, director, reported. “Judging by the last few days, I expected at least that much,” she said.

Throughout the entire early voting period, 11,174 county residents cast in-person ballots, exceeding her expectations. Adding in mail-in ballots, 31,311 early votes have been received.

Penrose had anticipated around 30,000, she said. She credited the response to encouragements from the candidates and media to vote early, and to the “excitement” of voting for a new president.

In Columbiana County, a total of 10,864 mail-in and in-person absentee ballot applications were processed, Adam Booth, director of the Columbiana County Board of Elections, reported. Of those, 7,984 were mail-in requests.

A total 2,880 in-office ballots were cast, including 222 Monday, also about what was expected given the prior few days, Booth said.

At the Mahoning County Board of Elections, 681 in-person ballots were cast yesterday, about what was anticipated and near the number cast the final days of early voting in 2012, said Tom McCabe, deputy director. Absentee early votes totaled 42,500, “just a tad behind what we did four years ago,” he reported.

McCabe said Mahoning County has trained more than 900 workers for today, including poll workers, runners and supervisors, more than it has in past years.

The county elections office also is bringing in additional personnel to answer phones and is coordinating with the sheriff and county prosecutor to address any issues such as unofficial poll watchers enlisted by campaigns at polling places.

“We have a good plan in place,” McCabe remarked. “We’re not expecting any problems here in Mahoning County.”

All three elections officials anticipate turnout in the low- to mid-70s percentile.

Statewide, nearly 1.8 million Ohioans cast their ballots ahead of Election Day today, Ohio Secretary of State John Husted reported last night. A total 1,994,911 voters requested an absentee ballot. Of those, 1,798,227 have been cast, including 661,594 requested and cast in person.

The Clinton campaign issued a statement late Monday noting that despite fewer days of early voting “Ohioans shattered early voting numbers.” Said Chris Wyant, director of the Clinton campaign in Ohio, “No one wins in Ohio without hard work, so we invested early because we knew this race would be close and we are taking nothing for granted.”

Mail-in ballots had to have been postmarked by yesterday and must arrive at the county board of elections within 10 days. They also can be turned in in person today to the board of elections offices.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.