Early voting began Tuesday in the Washington County Board of Elections office, with a handful of area residents taking advantage of the opportunity to get their ballots filed for the May 3 primary election.
Although only 11 people took part in the early voting option Tuesday, Washington County Board of Elections Director Peggy Byers said it isn't necessarily an indication there is little interest in the primary. She said with school issues on the ballot in Warren and Marietta, there is plenty of awareness.
"We've received over 600 mail-in requests already for absentee ballots," she said. "We got 150 (requests) in one day. I believe there are groups going up and down streets in (the Warren Local Schools district) helping people apply, because it seems like we're getting applications from entire streets at a time."
Byers said there is nothing improper with the tactic and that she is not aware if the individuals are in favor or against the school issue there, which is on the ballot for the fourth time since last May. The issue failed in February by 150 votes.
"I get the feeling that there are people doing this in favor and against it," she said.
The school district is attempting to pass an 8.76-mill bond issue and levy that would raise a $31.8 million local share of the construction of new school buildings across the district. If the issue passes, the Ohio School Facilities Commission will pay the balance of the $74.6 million cost for the buildings.
To vote early
Applications for absentee ballots are available by visiting the board of elections office in the county courthouse, calling 374-6828 or visiting www.electionsonthe.net/oh/washington
Fleming residents Chris and Holly Ladeaux were among the few people who came into the county courthouse to vote Tuesday. They said the Warren school issue and levy was their main interest.
"This is the fourth time and it's getting old," said Chris Ladeaux, 39. "We voted against this because we don't feel this is the time we should be adding more taxes."
The couple said they have a freshman at Warren High School.
"It would cost us at least $200 more per year (if the issue passed)," Chris Ladeaux said. "But it would cost (his wife's) parents $400 to $500 more per year, and they're retired and on a fixed income ... A lot of the people in our community are on a fixed income."
Marietta resident Josh Armstrong, 25, also took advantage of the opportunity to vote early on Tuesday. He said the Marietta City School's operating levy was his main concern.
"It's a matter of money and it's something I had to consider," he said.
The levy would raise $2.75 million a year that could only be used for day-to-day operating expenses. The annual cost for the owner of a property appraised at $100,000 would be $190.27 a year.
In the city, the race for City Law Director between Republican challengers Susan Vessels and Paul Bertram III is also likely to draw some attention. There are no Democratic challengers in the race and because no other Democratic positions are being challenged, an "issues-only" ballot will be given to members of that party, Byers said.
By Ohio law, early voting opportunities must be available for 35 days in advance of an election. Byers said the state legislature is considering cutting the early voting time down to 16 days.
Armstrong said although he took advantage of early voting, he can understand why some may want to shorten the opportunity.
"I made sure I read up on the issues and watched the news and learned as much as I could," he said. "But some people probably wonder if people really know all they need to know when they can vote as early as this."