Early voting for the upcoming May 7 elections begin today for with a council race going to some voters in Clark County and three issues for some Champaign County voters.
This will also mark the first election since a change in absentee voting.
A person looking to vote early, and wants to receive and cast an absentee ballot in person, is no longer required to complete an application for an absentee ballot as long as the voter can present a form of a current form identification under a recent change to Ohio law.
Residents interested in early voting can cast their ballots at either the Clark or Champaign Board of Elections.
“Voters will come in and show identification and we will look in our system to confirm that names and address match and they will receive ballots. It’s pretty simple,” Jason Baker, Director of Clark County Board of Elections said.
Forms of identification accepted under the law change include; a military ID, a photo ID issued by the United States government or the State of Ohio, a utility bill, a bank statement, a government check, a paycheck or other government documents.
Utility bills, bank statements, government checks, paychecks or other government documents must be dated within the last 12 months and contain the voters full name as well as their current address.
Baker said those without a form of identification can still go through the early voting process the old fashion way.
“If voters do not have an ID, they can still go through the old application process, it just takes a little longer,” Baker said.
Clark County has just one race for May elections — a vacant seat on New Carlisle city council.
Amy Hopkins and Becky McKenzie are vying for the seat, which became open when Aaron Leighty resigned after moving out of the city in July of last year.
Whoever wins the council election will serve until the end of 2021.
Jodi Flora, Deputy Director of the Champaign County Board of Elections, said she’s not sure how new early voting laws are going to effect turnout in Champaign County.
“We aren’t sure how this is going to effect turnout,” said said. “It could go either way.”
Residents in Champaign County will be voting on a hand full of levy increases in the May election, including City of Urbana leaders asking voters to approve the first increase in the city’s income tax in 27 years.
The city’s income tax has been 1.4 percent since 1991. If the income tax increase is approved, the tax will rise by .6 percent, making the city’s total income tax 2 percent.
If passed, the increase would go into effect on July 1. Voters have rejected previous attempts at passing the levy in the past two years.
City officials say the proposed increase will generate about $1.3 million in funds that will be used for police, fire, EMS and other city departments.
Graham Local Schools will also ask voters to pass a 1 percent, additional, earned income tax to help fund the district.
Voters have rejected the levy on three separate occasions, the last time being in November. At that time, voters said no by more than 400 votes, with 55 percent of votes against and 45 for, according to Champaign County election board results.
Last year, Graham Local Schools was forced to cut about $1.5 million from its budget after voters rejected the same levy in May 2018. The district managed to trim funds by cutting jobs and adding fees.
The final levy on the ballot for voters is a two-year 0.3 mill levy for Champaign County Mental Health Drug and Alcohol Services.