The Portage County Board of Elections released unofficial results of the Nov. 7 elections on Sunday. Results on state-wide issues 1 (abortion) and 2 (cannabis) and county-wide levies 29 (developmental disabilities), 30 (mental health), and 31 (parks) show both familiar and unexpected geographic patterns.
Issue 1 and 2 followed similar patterns, with heavy support in the cities and villages, but also many townships that typically vote more conservatively. In fact, only 16 out of 129 precincts in Portage County voted against Issue 1, and 19 opposed Issue 2.
Ravenna City precincts, which are often right on the edge of 50/50 Democrat/Republican in their voting, came out overwhelmingly in favor of Issue 1 and 2, illustrating a broader trend seen across the state. Precinct 4A, which includes mostly Kent State residence halls, voted more than 90% in favor of Issues 1 and 2, although with only 16.5% of registered voters submitting a ballot, it also had the lowest turnout in the county.
The renewal of the levy to support developmental disabilities services was the most broadly supported, with only Freedom Township Precinct B opposing it (and even then, with 49.6% voting yes).
Mental health services were also well-supported, although less so than Issue 29. Here the traditional east-west divide appeared with many eastern, rural precincts voting against the levy. More urban areas in the northwest of the county were heavily in favor and helped Issue 30 get approved with 61.6% of the vote county-wide.
The Portage Park District issue, which doubles the current levy to 1 mill, showed a common pattern where the western, more suburban and urban side of Portage County voted in favor of the increase, while the eastern, more rural side was opposed. This is somewhat expected given that most of the parks are also located on the western side of the county. This issue passed with 57.9% of the vote.
Jennifer Mapes is a geographer at Kent State and an expert on urban sustainability.