Low turnout expected in Clark, Champaign

School issues, local government races on Tuesday’s ballot.

Despite multiple school issues and city and township races on the ballot, Clark and Champaign county board of elections officials are predicting low voter turnout on Tuesday.

More than 2,000 voters turned in absentee ballots in Clark County and a little more than 700 voters returned ballots in Champaign County as of Friday afternoon. There are 87,755 registered voters in Clark County and 25,135 eligible to vote on Nov. 5.

Based on the number of area residents who have returned absentee ballots, board of elections officials expect overall turnout to be about 40 to 45 percent in Clark County and about 15 to 18 percent in Champaign County.

In Clark County, Developmental Disabilities of Clark County has placed an 8-year, 1.75-mill levy on the ballot, one year after voters rejected the tax.

Mental Health and Recovery Board of Clark, Greene and Madison counties is asking voters to approve a 1.65-mill renewal levy.

Voters will also be asked to approve tax levies placed on the ballot by Clark-Shawnee, Tecumseh and Northeastern local schools.

Clark Shawnee wants voters to support a 10-year, 7.59-mill additional levy; Tecumseh has a 5-year, 12.37-mill additional levy for operating expenses on the ballot; and Northeastern wants voters to approve an additional 1 percent earned income tax levy.

Clark County Board of Elections Director Matthew Tlachac said typically school issues bring residents out to vote, but so far he hasn’t seen much interest in the upcoming election.

“I think it will reach 40 percent, but I’d be surprised if it goes much over 45 percent,” Tlachac said.

Former Clark County Republican Party Chairman Dan Harkins is running for a seat on the city commission against incumbents Dan Martin, Karen Duncan and Joyce Chilton.

Champaign ballot to include school, township issues

Champaign County Board of Elections Deputy Director Meredith Bodey is surprised at the lack of interest.

“All of the schools have something on. The township trustees are all on and there are several township issues on the ballot. I just don’t understand why we haven’t had a larger turnout,” Bodey said.

Bodey said fewer than 600 absentee ballots had been returned as last week.

“It’s going to be low…I would say that 25 percent would be high,” Bodey said.

Champaign County voters will have numerous tax issues and races to decide.

Voters in Triad Local Schools will decide the fate of a new seven-year .5 percent income tax levy for permanent improvements and a five-year renewal of its current .5 percent income operating tax levy, even though it does not expire until 2015.

Urbana City Schools is seeking a renewal of the district’s 3.5-mill permanent improvement levy; Mechanicsburg Schools wants voters to support the renewal of a 5-mill, permanent improvement levy; Graham wants a renewal of its 1.5-mill, five-year permanent improvement levy.

Six candidates are seeking two open seats on Urbana City Council.

In one race, incumbent Doug Hoffman will try to keep his seat on the council against Richard Kerns and Tony Pena.

Amy White, a financial aid analyst at Urbana University who was appointed to fill the other seat, will try to keep her post against Pat Thackery, a local business owner, and Richard McCain, who spent most of his career in various roles with the city, including time as a street superintendent and sewer superintendent.

White was appointed to the seat after former council member Larry Lokai retired earlier this year.

Other key races in Champaign County: Challenger Joseph Reneer is trying to unseat appointed St. Paris mayor Brenda Cook.

In addition, nine candidates are vying for two open Mad River Twp. trustee seats. Candidates include: Steve Adams, John E. Bruce, Keith E. Colbert, Robert A. Errett, Brent A. Laughman, David M. Riley, Shane Smith, Brad Zerkle and Stuart Hess.

Champaign County Board of Elections Director Kathy A. Meyer and Tlachac said they expect overall turnout to mirror the November 2011 results.

Meyer said she expects voters impacted by school levies to go to the polls, but others in the county likely will not vote to do lack of interest or because they aren’t aware of the election.

“The problem is voter apathy. People are saying: Why should I vote? It’s not going to affect me,” Meyer said.

“Part of it is that it’s not a presidential election. Next year is a gubernatorial election, and you’ll see more TV ads and more people will be aware of what’s going on.”

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