Clerk hopes to increase voters in spring election

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Monday, November 30, 2009
— Spring elections frustrate Rock County Clerk Lori Stottler.

Those elections are so important because they seat the local officials who set taxes, she said.

Yet, the average turnout is 16 percent on a good year and 5 percent on a bad year.

“(Residents) should be voting for their school boards, county boards,” Stottler said.

“We’re a country who really values that ability to have your voice count,” she said. “We have plenty of people complaining about where this country sits right now.

“But when we have 16 percent turnout, that breaks my heart.”

How dare someone be so busy that they can’t take the time to make such an important decision? she asked.

“People need to get involved,” she said. “Government is ‘bottom up.’”

Stottler is enrolled in a certified public management program, and her two-year project is to increase voter turnout in spring elections.

She hopes to offer coupons that can be used at local businesses to people who vote, for example. She hopes to get those businesses to encourage their employees to vote, as well.

She hopes to encourage the news media to run candidates’ profiles sooner and expand election coverage. And, she is partnering with the League of Women Voters to increase the public’s access to local candidates. Debates should be scheduled earlier as well, she believes.

This year, the election again falls during spring break and that also negatively affect the vote, as well.

The courthouse gets more returns from military absentee voters than from people going on spring break, she said.

Her project will include public education and possibly exit polls. In the exit polls, she would allow people to vote “none of the above” if they are unhappy with their choices or didn’t have enough information to make an educated choice.

“We’re also going to look at how we can distinguish candidates on local issues,” she said.

Stottler also will research whether the local voting turnout has an economic impact on the tax levy. Does voter apathy mean higher taxes? for instance.

Stottler’s goal is to boost the turnout from 16 to 18 percent, she said.

“That (would be) 2 percent who get it now,” Stottler said.

She hopes that 2 percent will comprise people who have been paying attention and are making choices based on that information.

Last updated: 11:51 am Thursday, December 13, 2012

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