Candidate petitions due in one month: Where things stand in Butler County

Potential candidates for office have until Aug. 4 to file petitions to be on the Nov. 2 general election ballot. NICK GRAHAM / FILE

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Potential candidates for office have until Aug. 4 to file petitions to be on the Nov. 2 general election ballot. NICK GRAHAM / FILE

Small percentage of Butler County races figure to be contested.

Not many of the open Butler County races for November’s general election are potentially contested with the filing deadline a month away.

There are 45 local races for mayor, council members, trustee, fiscal officer and school board members, but 10 have the potential of being contested when the filing deadline comes at 4 p.m. on Aug. 4.

“A healthy democracy requires public confidence in the system, broad voter participation, and actual choices for voters to determine throughout the ballot,” said Butler County Board of Elections Director Diane Noonan. “Having races won by default denies voters a meaningful choice in deciding the course of their communities and schools and that discourages voter participation.

“Local government works best when there is an environment when public officials feel they will be held accountable by voters and must continue to earn their vote to be in office.”

Two years ago, less than a quarter of the races were contested, and in 2015, it was less than 40%, as it’s potentially shaping up to be for 2021. More than half the races in 2017, though, were contested.

These local races have a larger impact on a person’s life than presidential election years when voter turnout is higher, according to Northern Kentucky University social studies professor David Childs on the Cincinnati Public Radio education outreach project Democracy & Me website.

“There are many other elected positions on various levels that affect the everyday lives of the American people, but all too often many Americans sit on the sidelines during midterm or off-year elections,” he wrote. “[I]t is very important that every American citizen educate themselves on the candidates and vote intelligently. This is a major component of a democratic society, an essential component of a successful democracy.”

Noonan and Butler County elections Deputy Director Eric Corbin say they work with candidates when they pick up their paperwork to ensure they understand how not only to fill it out, but to file it ahead of the deadline.

“As a result, it’s been incredibly rare that we have had to reject a petition,” Noonan said. “We even try to notify candidates of any potential issues and giving them a chance to refile before the filing deadline when they do make a mistake.”

According to the board, the most common issues are candidates failing to sign the circulator’s statement on petitions they circulated and not checking to make sure the people signing the petition live within the district for the office. Another flaw is voters who sign a candidate’s petition for office did not update their voter registration that reflects new addresses.

Candidates also need to make sure they’ve filled out and signed the Statement of Candidacy before anyone signs their petitions “so we have no doubts whether voters understood what they were signing to support,” said Noonan.

There’s not a way to track how many candidates are new, but Noonan and Corbin both say they are seeing “quite a few first-time candidates” on the ballots. There’s also an uptick in women running for public office this year, a trend that’s been growing in recent years.

Butler County Treasurer Nancy Nix took notice on Election Night 2019 when more than half of those elected were women.

“I was really taken aback because I never remember noticing it so prevalent,” Nix told the Journal-News in 2019.

There is one race this year with a later filing deadline. Those running for Middletown City Council are able to file for office on Aug. 19. Middletown School Board, however, does not follow that rule and petitions for that race are due by 4 p.m. on Aug. 4, just like all other races, as well as tax levies and bonds, and other election issues.


DATES TO REMEMBER

Aug. 4: Candidate and issues filing deadline for the Nov. 2 ballot. All paperwork must be filed by 4 p.m.

Oct. 4: Deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 2 general election. Registration can be done online.

Oct. 5: Early voting in the Nov. 2 general election begins. All vote-by-mail ballot requests received ahead of this date will be mailed. All boards will have uniform hours for in-office early voting.

Nov. 1: Last day for early voting. All vote-by-mail ballots must be postmarked by this date (and voters should request the envelope be postmarked).

Nov. 2: Election Day. Polls are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. All vote-by-mail forms must be hand-delivered to the board of elections office.

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