I got hold of a sample ballot for our November 2015 General Election, and noted that there was no candidate for the position of “Auditor.” Sounds like an important and necessary job, so I launched a massive write-in campaign and began my run: I asked my wife to also write in my name. A couple of week’s later I received a call from the County Board of Elections that I had tied with another candidate, and there would be a drawing to see who won. I could come myself, send someone in my place, or ask one of the election board staff to draw for me. Since I would be traveling that day, I asked that someone there draw for me. On a picturesque fall day just before Thanksgiving, we are driving across I-70 in Ohio and my phone rings again. I had won!
When I got back home, I decided that I had better find out what I won, and what the duties and responsibilities of the position entailed. I figured that there was not much power to the position, since neither party had bothered to propose a candidate. After some research, I determined that I had won a six-year term on the three-person Board of Auditors for the township where we live in. A quick visit to the township office revealed two things: they did not yet know that I had won, and, since there was no candidate on the ballot, they were not actually expecting that anyone had won. But most importantly, I found out that I should attend the Township Supervisors Organizational meeting in early January, and a separate Board of Auditors meeting the next evening.
There are relatively few required duties for this board. For example, if the township hires a Supervisor as an employee, it is the Board of Auditors that officially sets the salary. But the Board of Auditors can actually do the annual audit. For at least the past few years, the Township has hired a private firm to do the audit. We’ll see if that changes.
The last word:
The township covers 18.2 square miles, with a population of 21,219 people according to the 2010 census, up 38% from the 2000 census.
One thing this exercise shows, probably not to your surprise, is the lack of interest in local elections. There are 13,810 registered voters, probably a very high percentage of the eligible citizens. Only 28% actually voted in this election, with a little less than 1% by absentee ballot. For this auditor position, there were only 26 votes, and I won with 2 of them. Three votes would have won the position without the risk of a run-off drawing. The open Supervisor position was won by less than 160 votes, about 4% of the votes, but only a little over 1% of the registered voters. Township and County supervisors have a strong influence over our daily lives. If you want to take over a local government, all you may need to do is get a hundred or so people who do not normally vote to go out and vote the way you want.
All politics is local.
Keep your sense of humor.