Monday, September 1, 2003

Voters more apt to skip local election



By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

In the Nov. 4 election, voters in Hamilton County and neighboring counties will be choosing mayors, city and village council members, township trustees, school board members and judges.

THE RECORD
    Key City Council votes, 2001-03 (Acrobat PDF file, 60k)
They will be voting on tax proposals that will affect the quality of their schools, fire and police services, and social service agencies.

Yet a lot of voters will be staying away from the polls because there are no presidential or gubernatorial races on the ballot, political experts say.

"Turnouts in these off-year elections where there are no major national or statewide races are always quite low," said Al Tuchfarber, director of the University of Cincinnati's Institute for Policy Research. "It takes something of great magnitude to get people's attention."

Most people have little knowledge of or interest in local races and issues, he said.

"The average potential voter has a career and a family to worry about as well as civic and social activities," Tuchfarber said. "They just don't devote much time at all to studying local politics. In fact, many voters are surprised when they go into the polling places and find out some of the issues they have to vote on, including tax levies."

These are a few of the issues Nov. 4:

•  Hamilton County: North Bend voters will be deciding whether to dissolve the village, and two school districts will be seeking tax hikes. Mount Healthy has a 6.95-mill levy on the ballot, and Mariemont is proposing a 5.5-mill levy.

•  Butler County: the Children Services agency wants voters to approve a 2-mill replacement tax levy.

•  Warren County: Lebanon has a 5.5-mill additional fire levy, and the Lebanon School District is seeking a 2-mill levy renewal.

•  Clermont County: Voters will face a 0.75-mill levy for the Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities.

Voter registration

Voter registration in Ohio closes on Oct. 6.

Here is some basic information, supplied by the office of Ohio secretary of state Ken Blackwell:

Must I be a U.S. citizen and a resident to register to vote in Ohio?

You must be a U.S. citizen and a resident of Ohio for at least 30 days before the election, and you must have registered to vote in Ohio at least 30 days before the election.

How do I register to vote?

You may register to vote simply by filling out a brief form, giving your intent to register, your name, birth date, citizenship status, age, current address and signature.

Do I have to register before every election?

No. Once you register to vote and vote in at least one general election in four years and - if you so choose - in a primary or special election, you never have to register again. You must keep your registration accurately updated for changes that may occur in your life such as a move or a name change.

How old must I be to be able to register to vote?

You must be 18 years old on or before the day of the general election, which is Nov. 4.

Must I declare a political party affiliation when I register?

No. However, when you vote in a primary election, your vote will determine your party affiliation.

Where may I register to vote?

You may register to vote at the following locations:

• The board of elections office in your county (It is always listed in the phone book under "Government Offices - County.")

• Any Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles office or BMV registrar

• Any public or vocational school

• Public libraries

• Your county treasurer's office

• You may also be able to register at sites such as: union-affiliated offices, or at get-out-to-vote rallies at special locations

How do I find out if I am still registered if I have not voted in a long time?

Contact your county board of elections for information

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E-mail skemme@enquirer.com




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