(Posted June 7, 2022)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Following a recount, Jefferson Township’s fire levy has failed. Though the final tally stands at 562-562, a tie counts as a loss because the ballot language states that a majority affirmative vote is necessary for passage.
In the May 3 primary election, the township asked for replacement of its existing 11-mill property tax levy with a 1-mill increase for a total of 12 mills for fire department operating expenses.
The Madison County Board of Elections held its official canvass of the May 3 primary election on May 25. This included counting ballots that weren’t counted on Election Day, including provisional ballots and absentee ballots postmarked by May 2 but not received by Election Day.
In the unofficial results released on Election Night, the Jefferson Township fire levy showed as failing by two votes, 558-560. The official canvass completed on May 25 showed a tie, 562-562. Ties trigger automatic recounts. So, the Board of Elections tallied the votes a third time on June 1. The tally stayed the same in the recount.
“The last election is certainly evidence that every vote counts,” said Jefferson Township Fire Chief Chris Snyder. “Even though we would’ve liked to have had another outcome, the fact that the count stayed the same after the recount proves the integrity of our voting system here in Madison County.”
Snyder said the township plans to return to the ballot for the Nov. 8 election. Prior to the May election, the fire department determined that it needs approximately $3 million per year to maintain operations long-term. The existing levy generates approximately $2.3 million per year. Snyder proposes that the township’s next ballot request generate that same amount of funding as requested in the May election. He noted that the decision regarding what goes on the ballot ultimately lies in the hands of the township trustees.
The deadline to file issues with the Board of Elections for the Nov. 8 ballot is Aug. 10.
In the meantime, Snyder said the township and fire department will be collecting input from the community, primarily on how to better inform voters of the department’s needs.
“If we can’t get something passed in November, it’s going to be a significant impact to the department,” he said.