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A lower percentage of Athens County voters participated in the 2022 election than in the last midterms, according to official election results through the Athens County Board of Elections.
While vote totals shifted, the release of official election results did not change the outcome of any race or issue as indicated by the preliminary results. The official results confirmed the election victory of incumbent Athens County Auditor Jill Thompson, the only Republican to win Athens County’s vote.
With 49.58% of registered voters participating, voter turnout was slightly lower this year than in the last midterm elections in 2018, when 51.12% of registered voters participated. This mirrored trends in the state more broadly. In Ohio, 52.32% of voters participated in this year’s elections compared to 55.72% in 2018, according to data from the Ohio Secretary of State’s office.
Athens County has also lost a dramatic share of its registered voters over the last four years. In 2018, the number of registered voters stood at 45,318. Now, it stands at 38,989.
Athens County Board of Elections Deputy Director Tony Brooks said population decline, cancellations of out-of-date voter records and changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic all may have played into the decline. The number of registered voters declined 4,399 from 2018 to 2019, and by another 1,577 from 2019 to 2020 when the pandemic may have played a role.
Republicans appeared to benefit from these changes. The Democratic candidate for governor earned just 50.3% of Athens County’s vote this year, compared to 62.97% in 2018.
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The official election results also reaffirmed incumbent auditor Jill Thompson’s election victory.
“It was very close to what we had expected, and while you don’t want to take anything for granted, I’m still extremely grateful that the vote count came out like it did,” Thompson said. “I’m humbled and appreciative, and I will do my very best to serve.”
Thompson’s Democratic competitor, county treasurer Ric Wasserman, declined to concede when preliminary results were released. At the time, Wasserman trailed Thompson by 646 votes, with only around 1,000 outstanding ballots left to be counted.
Thompson’s margin of victory narrowed substantially after the board of elections finished counting outstanding ballots. Official results put Thompson ahead by only 273 votes, or 50.7% of the vote.
“We ran the best campaign we could, we worked hard and we came up 273 votes short,” Wasserman said. “You can’t argue with the voters.”
Thompson, 53, of Athens, will serve a sixth full term as auditor. She was first appointed to the office in 2000.
Thompson previously told the Independent she views the auditor’s role as that of a “watchdog,” which keeps a check on elected officials and county institutions. During his campaign, Wasserman, 57, of Coolville, described Thompson’s posture in the role as unnecessarily adversarial and said he would place a greater emphasis on positive working relationships with elected officials.
Wasserman said he has “no immediate plans” to contest the auditor’s office again.
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