Low turnout expected in Clark, Champaign

Low voter turnout is expected in Clark and Champaign counties for Tuesday’s election.

Few issues are on the ballot in both counties, and if absentee voting returns and previous special elections are any indication, overall voter turnout could be as low as 16 to 17 percent.

Only 833 voters turned in absentee ballots in Clark County and a little more than 300 voters returned in-person and mail-in ballots in Champaign County.

In Clark County, voters will be asked to consider school bonds and tax levies placed on the ballot by Springfield City, Clark-Shawnee, Tecumseh, Greenon and Fairborn City schools.

The Springfield City School District, for example, will ask voters to approve a 2.2-mill bond issue it says would allow for security and safety improvements at the schools without raising tax bills. An old bond issue will expire at the end of 2013 that costs property owners about the same as the tax issue on the ballot, district Treasurer Dale Miller said.

“The average homeowner is not going to see an increase,” he said. “What they’re doing is, they’re not going to see a decrease the following year as that millage rolls off. They’re maintaining that millage at that level.”

Taxes would decrease by about $67 for the owner of a $100,000 home if the bond issue fails. It would raise nearly $14 million over 12 years.

Clark County Board of Elections Deputy Director Sally Pickarski said the school issues won’t be enough to draw large crowds to the polls.

“You would think they would because they affect their income, what they’re going to have to be paying out, and that that would make them want to come out and vote,” Pickarski said.

Pickarski said overall voter turnout in the May 2011 special election was about 16 percent, but she would not predict what percentage of Clark County’s about 90,000 registered voters would vote at the polls on Tuesday.

Champaign County Board of Elections Director Kathy Meyer predicted the overall voter turnout in her area could be as low as 17 percent.

Much of the reason, she said, is because there are few issues on the ballot.

Issues likely to get the most interest include a request for a five-year 9.75-mill renewal levy at Urbana City Schools that would not increase taxes.

If approved, the levy would continue to cost $298 per year for the owner of a $100,000 home and would raise about $2.4 million for the district.

Statewide, polls will open at 6:30 a.m. and will close at 7:30 p.m., according to information from the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office. Voters are asked to bring a proper ID, and know their polling location and precinct. Voters should be able to obtain that information by visiting myohiovote.com.

West Liberty-Salem Local Schools is also asking voters to renew a one percent income tax for current expenses. The three-year income tax would continue to cost $400 a year for every $40,000 of income.

Jackson Twp. is seeking two levies, including a 1.5-mill replacement and increase for fire service that will cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $47 a year. Voters in the township rejected a similar proposal in the fall. In addition, Jackson Twp, voters will decide whether to approve a five-year, 1-mill replacement and increase for ambulance service that will cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $32 a year. Both issues exclude residents in Christiansburg and St. Paris.

Union Twp. is also seeking a five-year, 4-mill levy for fire services that would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $126 a year. That issues excludes residents of the village of Mutual.

The ballot in Champaign County includes only one contested race, in which five candidates are seeking two available at-large seats as Urbana City Council members. Republican candidates Douglas Hoffman and Robert Thorpe will seek to retain their seats on council, while challengers include Republicans Tony Pena and Richard McCain. The two Republicans with the most votes will move ahead to the fall election. Richard Kerns is the lone Democrat seeking a seat on council and will also move on to the fall election.

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