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 August or November 2011 Levy

The November 2011 election will be unique due to the repeal of Senate Bill 5 being on the ballot. Our research indicates that the supporters and opponents of SB 5 will spend collectively $30,000,000 or more on the campaign. At the same time, there will not be any other statewide candidate or issue on the ballot that is spending money on radio, television, and direct mail advertising.

An equally serious issue will be the type of ads run by each side in the campaign. Needless to say, all this advertising will make it difficult to have a school levy on the ballot at the same time. Voters may have the impression that SB 5 solves the funding of school districts.

The ballot language has an interesting twist and will require those supporting SB 5 to vote "yes," and those wanting it repealed to vote "no." It seems counterintuitive, but a yes vote means that the voter supports the action of the legislature in passing SB 5.

For the above reasons, recommends that school districts and levy campaign committees seriously consider placing their levy on the August ballot. August presents challenges in conducting a campaign, but there is a benefit in not having the competing messages that will be generated by the SB 5 campaign in November.

Pros Cons
Low turnout election Low turnout election
Fewer "yes" votes are needed with a smaller turnout Fewer "no" votes are needed with a smaller turnout and getting positive voters to vote by mail
Single issue voters concerned about SB 5 will not be voting in August More difficult to organize volunteers during the summer
Avoid SB 5 advertising Board of Elections expenses
Urging absentee voting increases impact of those votes May 4 (day after May 3 primary) is the filing deadline for August 2 election
Media will continue to highlight the financial "hit" schools districts are taking with the Ohio budget. The administration continues to highlight the "tools" schools have to reduce spending along with the high management costs.


Remember that 2012 is a Presidential year with only three opportunities for a tax issue: Primary date, August 7, and November 6.

This levy campaign alert was prepared by SOS Executive Director Jerry Rampelt.

SOS is an independent non-profit organization that has no position on Senate Bill 5 and only offers this memo as guidance to school districts making a decision about whether to place a levy on the August or November ballot.

 Absentee Voting or Early Voting

Voting begins thirty (30) days before the official Election Day, and voters do not have 
to provide a reason for voting absentee

Absentee Voting (Chase Ballot Program)


One-fourth to one-third of your voters will vote absentee.  A number that large means
your campaign has to have a vigorous absentee (chase) ballot program.  Board of
elections data show that 90-93% of absentee ballots are returned to the county board
of elections.  That means that a voter who is mailed an absentee ballot with over 90%
predictability will return the ballot.

Under Ohio law county boards of elections begin sending absentee ballots thirty-five (35)
days before election day.  

Each of Ohio’s eighty-eight (88) counties are unique in how the list of voters is made
available to you.  Below are some of the possible ways you will receive the absentee list.

  • An electronic file is posted each day on the board of election website.  Someone in
    your campaign downloads the file, sorts voters from your school district.  The files
    are most commonly a comma separated file (CSV).
  • An electronic file is sent via email to anyone who requests the list.  The file will need
    to be sorted by school district.
  • A list of mailing labels for your school district will be made available each day. 
    Someone from the campaign will need to go to the board of elections each day and
    pick up the labels.  This is the worst option because it is labor intensive.  The board
    of elections will charge a nominal fee for the labels.

The list is usually available each afternoon, and the time can vary from day to day.  This
means you will need to check several times during the day to see if the list was posted on
the board of elections website.

Lists contain the name and address of every voter who is being sent an absentee ballot that
day.  Remember, the list will have to be sorted by school district.

Multiple County School Districts will have an absentee list in each county. That means you
will have to collect the list from each county.

Military absentee ballots are usually sent in the first batch of absentee ballots about 35 days
before election-day.  Send military personnel a special mailer from local members of the
military asking for their support for the levy.

Processing a List of Absentee Voters
Budget
Ensure you have enough funds for an Absentee Ballot program.  Assume 25 to 35% of your
voters will vote absentee.  Multiple the estimated number of voters times the cost of printing
literature and a first class stamp.  No bulk mailing because the literature will arrive too late.
Budget the money at the beginning of the campaign.

Daily Schedule
1.    Obtain list from the county board of elections: usually between Noon and 4:00 PM
2.    Sort list by public school districts, and only use voters in your school district.
3.    Print labels on direct mail literature
4.    Use first class postage so that the Direct Mail is process immediately by the post office.
5.    Drop the mail at the central post office before 7:00 PM.

Premier Chase Ballot Program

  • Recruit a Chase Ballot Program team.
  • Meet or call county board of elections 15 days in advance of the commencement of
    absentee voting and determine how the board of elections handles absentee ballots.
  • Prepare and print Chase Ballot literature 15 days in advance of mailing.
  • Week before absentee voting commencement

a. Call each day and ask when absentee ballots will be mailed.  Boards of elections will change
the date they mail even though the law says it must begin 35 days before the election date.

Idea for Chase Ballot Program
A successful school levy campaign asked the staff at an elementary school to handle the labeling
and mailing of Chase literature.  The staff divided the work and two staff each day were responsible
for labeling and taking the literature to the post office. The teams of two staff had to do the job twice
during the campaign.

Over 90% of Absentee Ballots are returned

  • Rest assured – voters who receive an absentee ballot vote and mail it to the board of elections.
  • This is a “golden” opportunity to communicate with voters while they are making their voting decision.

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