Butler County November ballot shaping up to have few contested races

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Butler County November ballot shaping up to have few contested races

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Michael Pitman
The Butler County Board of Elections filing deadline for local elections was 4 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017. Petitions will be certified for most races on Aug. 21. Candidate petitions for races for Hamilton city council and mayor and Middletown city council, per their respective charters, are due Aug. 24 and petitions will be certified on Aug. 28. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF

The number of contested local races continues its downward trend in this November’s election, something Butler County has seen since 2009 and is mirrored across the state and nation, according to some political experts.

Wednesday was the filing deadline for local elections, except for Hamilton and Middletown city council and Hamilton mayoral races per their respective city charters.

Based on the number of petitions pulled, it was anticipated that upwards of 27 races would be contested this November. However, that was not the case after several people who pulled petitions did not file by Wednesday’s 4 p.m. deadline for all races but Hamilton and Middletown city governments.

Petitions for the three Hamilton and Middletown races aren’t due until Aug. 24, and they’ll be reviewed for certification by the board on Aug. 28.

“We have an awful lot of uncontested races across the state and across the nation,” University of Cincinnati political science professor David Niven said.

Nationwide, at the state legislative levels, Niven said about 4o percent to 45 percent of races are uncontested. In last year’s Statehouse races, 30 of the 115 Statehouse races were uncontested.

This year, Butler County has the potential for 23 contested races depending on certification of petitions filed. Butler County had 24 contested races in 2013 and 2015, and 27 and 31 contested races in 2011 and 2009, respectively.

But there’s always a push for more candidates to seek office, said Butler County Board of Elections Deputy Director Jocelyn Bucaro.

“I think competition is good,” she said. “These are the most important races in terms of having an impact of our daily lives.”

Now that Wednesday has passed, Miami University Regionals political science professor John Forren said while we know who’s running, “the broader question in an odd-year election what will turnout be? Will people participate, and that gets back to the whole concern of low-level of participation in local races.”

Local elections in odd-numbered years tend to see the lowest voter turnout numbers. However, as there are two statewide issues on November’s ballot that will help voter turnout. But election officials say it’s too early to predict what turnout could be for the Nov. 7 election.

In the 2011 and 2015 elections, where there state-wide issues to decide, voter turnout exceeded 40 percent. But in 2013, where there no statewide issues, voter turnout was below 28 percent.

The Butler County Board of Elections will review candidate petitions filed in the past couple of weeks through Wednesday for certification. The board will vote on certification at the Aug. 21 meeting.

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