Eligibility for referendum vote raises questions

ELKHART —  A school funding referendum, and who is eligible to vote for the question, is causing confusion for some voters, according to local election officials.

Elkhart Community Schools is seeking a property tax levy of 58 cents for eight years to fund things like safety initiatives and teacher pay. It would replace the current levy of just under 14 cents.

It would provide the district with $20.3 million over the course of eight years and would be imposed from 2020 through 2027 should the referendum pass.

If the referendum passes, property taxes would increase an estimated $165 a year for the median price of a home in Elkhart estimated at $106,400 in value with a homestead deduction, 35 percent supplemental deduction and mortgage deduction

Early voting began April 9 and, according to Elkhart County Clerk Chris Anderson, many have inquired why the referendum question was not on their ballot.

All voters in the school district are eligible to vote, he said. This includes all registered voters of Cleveland Township, Osolo Township and Washington Township.

“Our staff has been instructed that they are to look at the voter, and the equipment will not allow a ballot for say a Jackson Township voter to be produced with the Elkhart schools question on it,” he said. “So, if the question is not on your ballot, you’re not a registered voter in the Elkhart Community Schools district.”

In addition, some residents of Concord Township who live inside the Elkhart city limits may be eligible for the Elkhart schools public question depending on their registration address, Anderson said.

A tip? Those who live in Concord Township with a five-digit address more than likely aren't eligible for the ECS public question, he said. 

“A five-digit address generally means that you are outside the city limits and thus reside in the Concord School District,” Anderson said.  “Those registered voters who live in Concord Township and have an address that is four digits or less, are more than likely to be eligible to vote in the Municipal Primary and may be eligible to vote on the Elkhart Community Schools public question.”

Anderson said the Clerk’s Office has also received numerous calls from business owners asking if they could vote if they have property within city limits.

Still doesn’t count, he said.

“It is where you are registered to vote, not where you own property,” he said.

Residents who want to see their ballot can go to indianavoters.in.gov and click on “Who’s on the ballot.” From there, voters can fill out their name, birth date and county of registration.

The primary election is May 7. 

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