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Election results now final

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One of the strangest elections in Ohio history is now officially over.

The Greene County Board of Elections certified election results on May 19 from the extended March 17 primary election. With all valid votes now counted, the certified results are in line with the earlier uncertified results, announced April 28.

Because of the state’s COVID-related closure of polling places and move to mail-in voting, the vast majority, or 84%, of votes were cast absentee. About 15% of ballots were cast during early voting, while 1% of votes were cast via provisional ballot.

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In Yellow Springs, the final vote tally for the three Village Charter amendments reflected the uncertified results. Voters have opted to extend the mayor’s term from two to four years and expand voting rights in local elections to Yellow Springs residents who are not U.S. citizens, while voting down a similar proposal to allow 16- and 17-year-old voters to participate in local elections.

On the issue of extending the mayor’s term, 1,272 local voters, or 84%, voted for the measure, while 246, or 16%, voted against. On the issue of enfranchising non-citizen residents, 891 voted “yes” and 650 voted “no.” That split of 58% to 42% was slightly intensified from the earlier count. And on the issue of giving the vote to younger people, 870 voted “no” and 673 “yes,” a 56% to 44% rejection of the measure and a slight dilution of the previous split.

Miami Township voters overwhelmingly passed Issue 6, a renewal levy for Miami Township Fire-Rescue in the amount of 3.8 mills over five years. On that issue, 1,651 voters, or 83%, approved the measure, and 332, or 17%, disapproved.

And county voters overall firmly voted down Issue 12, a 0.25% sales tax increase to fund construction of a new and larger county jail. That increase was rejected by 22,920 voters, or 62%, with 14,205, or 38%, voting in favor of the increase. The certified outcome slightly widened the split from the previous uncertified result.

In Yellow Springs, opposition to the jail tax increase was even more decisive. Among village voters, 1,322, or 86%, voted against the proposal, while just 221, or 14%, voted in favor.

The certified results added more than 5,000 ballots to the overall count, for a total of 38,184 votes cast in Greene County out of 114,375 registered voters. The turnout rate countywide rose to 33%. In Yellow Springs, the final voter turnout rate rose to 49%, with 1,572 votes cast out of 3,237 registered voters.

Local reactions

Issue 12, the jail sales tax issue, was closely watched in Yellow Springs. The outcome was a victory for a local group that campaigned vigorously against the measure in the weeks before the March 17 election and during the extended election period until April 28. The group’s convener, villager Bomani Moyenda, said this week that he was “elated” by the result. And he credited the hard work of local campaigners, who crisscrossed the county to engage voters on the issue.

“They were awesome,” he said.

While the COVID-related economic downturn may have tipped some voters toward rejecting the sales tax increase, Moyenda said he believes the outcome overall reflects the limitations of the county’s proposal — specifically, the increase in the size of the jail and the lack of funds for rehabilitation and treatment services.

To address these deficits, the local group continues to meet online with a refocused goal of reforming aspects of the county criminal justice system. Members hope to work with people and groups across Greene County to reduce the local jail population and provide more supports for inmates and their families.

At stake is “what we want the justice system to look like and do for the citizens of Greene County — besides locking people up,” Moyenda said.

Reached for comment this week, Sheriff Gene Fischer, whose department runs the jail, said he was disappointed with the result. Fischer maintained that a larger jail remains necessary to adequately house and separate inmates.

“The need is still there,” he said of the larger facility.

Fischer said he was somewhat surprised by the margin of the vote, which he attributed to the effects of COVID-19. He noted that the sheriff’s department and supporters of the new jail did not continue campaigning after widespread closures due to the pandemic.

Neither Fischer nor the Greene County Board of Commissioners have yet decided how to proceed on the jail proposal.

“We will need to have a couple of work sessions about these issues,” Commissioner Tom Koogler wrote in an email to the News. He added, “Given all the issues our community is facing, we have an uphill battle.”

Regarding the amendments to the Village Charter, Council President Brian Housh said this week that he was unsurprised by the strong local support for extending the mayor’s term, given the popularity of the current and previous mayors. But he found the outcome of the other two amendments somewhat unexpected, in light of opinions expressed locally prior to the vote.

“I think it means the vote was thoughtful,” he said of the outcome.

Having championed the proposal to expand local voting to 16- and 17-year-olds, Housh said he was disappointed by the result. He continues to believe that such a measure is “the right way to move” to energize younger voters and bring youth perspectives to local issues. However, Housh does not plan to work to put the issue on the ballot in a future election.

Of villagers’ willingness to extend the local franchise to all Yellow Springs residents, Housh said he found the result “encouraging and incredible.” He has previously estimated that up to 50 non-citizen villagers would be eligible to vote in local elections under such a charter change.

The Village will work with the Greene County Board of Elections to develop separate voter rolls for this group of voters. And Village leaders will need to find ways to inform newly eligible voters of their ability to cast ballots in the next round of local elections.

“We need to get information out there to encourage this,” Housh said.

Local precinct results

Voter Turnout
(Votes cast/registered voters)

Precinct 440
(northern part of town): 462/887, 52%
Precinct 441 (western Yellow Springs): 302/733, 41%
Precinct 442 (center of town): 346/829, 42%
Precinct 443 (south side of village): 462/788, 59%
Precinct 455 (Miami Township eastern portion): 229/508, 45%
Precinct 456 (Miami Township western portion): 230/535, 43%
YS Total: 1,572/3,237, 49%
Miami Township Total: 459/1,043, 44%

Greene County Jail Sales Tax, Issue 12

Precinct 440: No, 398; Yes, 57
Precinct 441: No, 257; Yes, 39
Precinct 442: No, 296; Yes, 43
Precinct 443: No, 371; Yes, 82
Precinct 455:  No, 162; Yes, 63
Precinct 456: No, 181; Yes, 45
Total: No, 1,665; Yes, 329; 84%–16%

YS Charter Amendment Issue 3
To increase the mayor’s term from two to four years

Precinct 440: Yes, 375; No, 75 
Precinct 441: Yes, 234; No, 60
Precinct 442: Yes, 292; No, 40
Precinct 443: Yes, 371; No, 71
Total: Yes, 1,272; No, 246; 84%–16%

YS Charter Amendment Issue 4
Extending voting to 16- and 17-year-olds

Precinct 440: No, 253; Yes, 204
Precinct 441: No, 165; Yes, 131
Precinct 442: No, 178; Yes, 161
Precinct 443: No, 274; Yes, 177
Total: No, 870; Yes, 673, 56%–44%

YS Charter Amendment Issue 5
Extending voting to non-U.S. citizens

Precinct 440: Yes, 262; No, 191
Precinct 441: Yes, 169; No, 128
Precinct 442: Yes, 216; No, 124
Precinct 443: Yes, 244; No, 207
Total: Yes, 891; No, 650; 58%–42%

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