Your vote does matter
If you are among those people who choose not to participate in elections because you think you are just one person and your vote really won’t matter, know that your assumption is wrong.
We received another reminder of that Tuesday, when residents of Wells Township approved a 3-mill levy that will improve police protection by two votes. The total was 366 for the levy and 364 against the levy, according to the unofficial results tabulated by the Jefferson County Board of Elections.
With a margin that close, things could change before the totals are certified, but for now, the issue has been approved.
Voters in Wells Township were pretty much split down the middle when they cast their ballots. Another issue, a 3-mill levy for road maintenance, was defeated by just 26 votes, 378-352. So you don’t have to do the math, that means 51.78 percent of those who cast ballots said no.
Both issues had sparked a great deal of discussion during the run-up to the election. Officials had sought the money to offset the financial hit the township had taken with Buckeye Power’s tax devaluation at the Cardinal Plant. Township residents took a great interest in both issues, and it showed — 41.14 percent of the 1,784 eligible voters cast ballots for both of them Tuesday.
That number is higher than the overall total for Jefferson County. Fewer than one third of the registered voters — 30.49 percent — bothered to cast ballots Tuesday.
¯ If you need another example of why you need to vote, look no further than Dillonvale, where Curtis A. Prince was elected mayor by an 88-85 count over Michele T. Dulesky, or by a margin of 51 percent to 49 percent.
¯ No one likes to pay higher taxes, but if the money goes to groups or agencies or communities that deliver on their promises, voters are more likely to say yes.
Several issues from Tuesday’s election stand out. The Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County, for instance, asked voters to renew its 1-mill levy, and they did in a big way, with 9,727 saying yes and 4,028 saying no. Area residents realize that our local library system is a valuable asset and showed, once again, that they value the service it provides.
It was the same with the 1.2-mill renewal voters were asked to approve for senior services. Recognizing the good things Prime Time does and the many services it provides, area residents approved the issue 10,352 to 3,182.
When it comes to municipal services, one of the most overlooked items are the collection of garbage and trash. Mingo Junction voters showed their appreciation for the efforts of the village by approving a 6-mill replacement levy to cover garbage collection 646-234.
Turnout in Mingo Junction was 39.16 percent, which was higher than the rest of the county. That number likely was driven by contested races for mayor and village council.
¯ Residents of the Edison Local and Jefferson County Joint Vocational school districts are among those who stood up for the area’s children.
Edison’s 2.1-mill renewal means the district will, among other things, be able to complete its athletic complex on the high school campus. That will mean less travel time — and safer travel — for student-athletes and fans. It passed 2,215-1,569.
Jefferson County residents also said yes to the 1-mill renewal levy the JVS had requested 9,658-4,126. That money will allow the school to purchase equipment for programs and maintain its building.
¯ Overall across Ohio, voters approved 113 of 154 public school district tax issues, according to the Ohio School Boards Association. They said yes to 78 of the 82 renewal issues, which is a 95 percent pass rate. That’s slightly lower than the 96 percent pass rate for renewals in the 2018 general election.
¯ With the 2019 election behind us, we can finally start looking forward to 2020.
Since it’s a presidential election year, Ohioans will be heading to the polls earlier — on March 17. That means the voter registration deadline for the primary will be Feb. 18.
West Virginia’s primary is set for May 12, with a voter registration deadline of April 21.
If you’re looking way ahead, the 2020 general election will be held on Nov. 3. And if you’re the type of voter who just wants to vote in a presidential election, you’ll have to be registered by Oct. 5 in Ohio and Oct. 13 in West Virginia.
Our representative democracy works best when everyone who can cast a ballot does. It’s important because, as we saw Tuesday, just a few votes one way or the other can have a big impact on a community. One of those votes could belong to you. Make sure you can cast it.
(Gallabrese, a resident of Steubenville, is executive editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times.)