Youngstown ward races are key voting issues

Just because there are few exciting races Tuesday in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties, that should be no excuse for you to stay home and not cast your vote.

I know I sound like a broken record or perhaps a never-ending video loop on YouTube, but the right to vote is one of the greatest privileges afforded Americans by our Constitution.

For African-Americans and women, particularly, it is crucial that ballots are cast.

I remind you that at one time in our nation, neither blacks nor women could vote, and the Constitution had to be amended to provide that basic right.

Two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court effectively scuttled the major portion of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by freeing nine states, most in the South, to change their election laws without advanced federal approval.

Last month, the Ohio branch of the NAACP, American Civil Liberties Union and other civil-rights organizations settled with Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted in a deal that would expand early-voting opportunities, according to the NAACP’s website.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the ACLU and others argued that the elimination of the “golden week” that allowed people to register and vote on the same day would negatively affect low-income and black voters disproportionately.

The website says the early-voting opportunities, which begin after Tuesday’s primary, are:

For the 2016 presidential general election, provides an additional Sunday during the third week of voting, with election boards open from 1 to 5 p.m.

For the 2016 presidential primary election and general elections, expands weekday evening hours to 7 p.m. during the fourth week of voting.

For regular municipal elections, primary elections and special elections, expands hours during the fourth week of voting for weekdays, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., and on the Saturday before the election, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

You must show either your driver’s license, a photo identification card, your military identification or a recent utility bill, bank statement or paycheck.

What continues to cause me to scratch my head is why people don’t register to vote in the first place. This process literally takes less than 10 minutes.

According to the Ohio secretary of state’s website, here’s what you need to do. To be eligible to vote in the next election in Ohio — in this case the general election in November — you must be registered to vote at least 30 days before the election date.

You can register to vote through the county board of elections in person or by mail. You cannot register online.

You also can register to vote at your local Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles office when you go in for any driver’s license/ID card transactions.

The local Community Mobilization Coalition, a group of 17 African-American and Hispanic organizations, for years has focused on voter registration, education and getting people to vote.

The bottom line, then, is folks have to get off their behinds, carve out a few minutes from their busy days and cast their ballots.

Many people, black and white, were beaten and died to secure the right for all Americans to vote, particularly black Americans.

The key issue in Tuesday’s primary are the city council ward races in Youngstown.

For the first time in many years, there are contested races in all seven wards. Voters will elect a new council member in the 1st, 5th, 6th and 7th wards.

And, the incumbents in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th wards have challengers.

For those who believe Youngstown needs new leadership to continue moving the city forward in the 21st century, here is your chance to make a difference.

This paper has made its endorsements in these races, but you have the final say when you cast your ballot.

In Struthers, voters will select a new mayor, who will be charged with moving that city forward. Is Ron Carcelli the man who can help pave the way to revitalize the city or is Danny Thomas Jr. better equipped to get the job done? We will find out soon, but don’t squawk if you don’t vote.

In Columbiana County, the 1 percent sales tax is up for renewal.

There are school-levy issues in South Range, Lordstown, Hubbard, Liberty, Maplewood, Lakeview and Newton Falls. Most are renewals, which means no additional money coming out of your pockets.

Candidates’ forums are over, but you still can go to to find out about candidates and tax issues before casting your informed vote.

Don’t forsake this important task Tuesday. Every election is important, and every vote does count.

Ernie Brown Jr., a regional editor at The Vindicator, writes a monthly minority-affairs column. Contact him at

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