Help me vote in obscure elections!
August 12, 2016 10:58 AM   Subscribe

Today my dad had me apply for an absentee ballot for a water conservation district election and it got me wondering: How many of these weird, obscure local elections are held each year and how can I vote in more of them? I live in Cincinnati, Ohio if that makes a difference, but more general advice is welcome.
posted by Small Dollar to Law & Government (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
In California, where I live, you just register to vote once and you are eligible for all relevant elections based on your address. There is also the option of registering for permanent absentee/vote-by-mail ballot so they automatically send you ballots to your official address for any elections that you are eligible to vote in.
posted by metahawk at 11:30 AM on August 12, 2016

Find the website for the election board responsible for the place you live. Many large cities have their own, but my county is responsible for mine. Your state, county and city likely have specific dates for regular elections, including primaries and/or caucuses (Minnesota has had both this year).

I had to go to our Secretary of State's website to get a sample ballot to find out exactly who was running for all 3 things on my ballot. They provided links to candidate websites if they existed. I am very glad I googled up info on the people running for our state Supreme Court seat. If your state doesn't provide that info anywhere, the League of Women Voters or local newspapers might.
posted by soelo at 11:45 AM on August 12, 2016

2016 Hamilton County Board of Elections Calendar

Hamilton County Board of Elections

Ohio Secretary of State

In Ohio, there are only a handful of elections in a year: the primary, the general election, and, if necessary, a special election. Once you're registered, you can vote in all of them you're eligible for. Ballots are generally organized by importance, so the first race on the ballot is for president, the second is for Senate, etc. Once you get to the end, you're looking at things like Board of Zoning Appeals seats and library levies.

Basically, be aware of when elections are held (in Ohio, you probably can't forget the general election, but the special elections usually have turnout percentages in the single digits), and then show up.
posted by kevinbelt at 11:49 AM on August 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

John Oliver's piece on special districts might be very interesting to you.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:41 PM on August 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Review the county election board website periodically.
posted by jpe at 4:14 PM on August 12, 2016

Yes, there are primary and general elections, and most of the small and obscure offices are also filled in those elections. But then there are occasional special elections. In my area I think these are only school board elections.

The clerk of the city, town, or township where you live is reponsible for this stuff and most often has a ready listing of the elections coming up. Most of them now have the information online.
posted by megatherium at 5:01 PM on August 12, 2016

Response by poster: This is definitely a special district situation. Here's the website with information about the election, which does NOT appear on the BOE's website or schedule of elections. I ended up voting in person at the district office just by signing an affidavit, no voter ID required, and received a ballot which was a slip of paper with a list of names to put an X next to. Normal elections use optical scan fill-in-the-blank ballots read by machine. Businesses that own land in the county can vote too, which is totally unlike any other election I've ever participated in.
posted by Small Dollar at 9:13 PM on August 12, 2016

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