Janesville66.7°

Some spring breaks fall during area elections

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
March 31, 2010
— Spring break in area school districts might dilute what is expected to be a thin voter turnout April 6, but clerks said it’s not too late to vote absentee.

Janesville residents can vote until 5 p.m. Monday at City Hall, 18 N. Jackson St. They can request a ballot by mail if the request gets to the clerk’s office by 5 p.m. Thursday. The ballot must be returned by 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 6.


Voters elsewhere who need an absentee ballot should contact their local municipal clerks.


The Janesville School District spring break begins Friday, and school resumes Monday, April 12. Some other schools in Rock and Walworth counties also are on spring break during election week.


Janesville City Clerk Jean Wulf predicted a turnout of 15 percent and 25 percent. The turnout might be low because many of the races are not contested, she said.


Five residents are running for three open spots on the Janesville City Council. One candidate is a write-in; his name will not appear on the ballot.


Five residents are competing for three open seats on the Janesville School Board. One candidate already has dropped out, and another has announced she will resign her seat if she wins when she moves out of the district, possibly by summer.


All county board seats are up for election, but only one-third are contested.


Wulf predicted that fewer than 7,000 people, or about 17 percent of registered voters, would turn out April 6. About 6,500 Janesville residents voted in 2009, about 7,700 in 2008 and 7,500 in 2007.


Rock County Clerk Lori Stottler said voting numbers would vary throughout the county. She predicted low voter turnout in areas with unopposed races but higher turnout in places such as the Brodhead and Parkview school districts, which have referendums on the ballot.


The countywide vote usually is around 16 percent during spring elections, she said.


Stottler said her goal this year was to increase the number of voters. Many of her ideas, though, were stymied by state statutes, she said.


For instance, Stottler wanted to give voters coupons they could use at area businesses. Members of the state Government Accountability Board, however, told her that could violate statutes written to keep people from influencing votes, she said.


Stottler was even discouraged from putting a link on the Gazette Web site to her county Web site.


Stottler said she found the rules, written to protect voters, also keep them from getting more information about local candidates.


In Walworth County, Delavan, Elkhorn and Lake Geneva have contested mayoral races along with several contested city council races. A Walworth County Court judge seat is contested because longtime Judge Michael Gibbs is not seeking re-election. The Sharon School District is asking voters to approve a multi-million-dollar referendum for school improvements.



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