Election important, not exciting

There’s not a great sense of excitement about this general election.

Odd-year elections are often that way.

There’s no election for president, state officials, Congress, the state Legislature or even countywide seats.

There’s not even a statewide issue on the ballot this year.

And there’s little doubt that turnout is going to be very low — I mean ridiculously low.

The directors of the boards of elections in Mahoning and Trumbull counties recently told me they expect about three out of every four registered voters to stay home.

They likely were being optimistic with predictions of 25 percent turnout in Mahoning and 25 percent to 30 percent in Trumbull.

In the May 7 primary, turnout was 10.77 percent in Mahoning and 18.39 percent in Trumbull.

It should get better in the Nov. 5 general election, but probably not by a lot.

As long as you have the proper form of identification, it’s pretty easy to vote in Ohio.

During last year’s general election, I requested an absentee ballot by mail. I didn’t have to leave my house to vote as I put the request and then the ballot I received in the mail on the clip on my mailbox, just outside my front door, and my postal carrier took them.

While people stand in line, sometimes for hours, to vote in the presidential election every four years, it’s these odd-year elections that really impact your daily lives.

So here’s my pitch for why you should vote: If nothing else, do it for purely selfish reasons.

Who your council members or trustees or school board members are impacts your everyday life more than who represents you in Congress or who is the president.

The president isn’t going to make a decision to pave your road. Your U.S. senator isn’t going to put a needed stop sign in your neighborhood or hire more teachers to improve the education provided to your kids or your grandchildren.

A council member or trustee or school board member may not do those things either. But you’ve got a better shot at it with them since they help make those decisions. Also, it’s a lot easier to complain to them than someone on the state or federal levels.

There are also numerous tax issues on the ballot that allow you to determine how or if your tax dollars are spent.

When I moved to Ohio from New York in 1995, I was amazed that voters had power over their taxes.

In New York, communities and school districts impose taxes without a vote of the people.

We’re so very fortunate in Ohio to have the ability to make those decisions.

If you think a school district or a government administration is doing a lousy job managing your taxes, you can vote no. If you think they’re doing a good job — or at least you support where money for a tax levy is going — you can show that by voting in favor.

This definitely will be the worst turnout for a general election in the area since 2013, the last time there wasn’t a statewide issue on the ballot in an odd-numbered year. Turnout six years ago was 29.47 percent in Mahoning and 24.69 percent in Trumbull.

Yes, there are communities with unopposed candidates for certain races, and some of you probably think it’s a waste of time to go to your polling place Nov. 5 or to request an absentee ballot.

But it’s very important.

As Stephanie Penrose, director of the Trumbull County Board of Elections, told me: “School boards and trustees don’t attract much interest. A lot of people don’t come out for local races, and that’s what really affects us. Let’s face it, local races and local tax issues impact us the most.”


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