Early voting starts today for Kanawha County's special election to help public schools and libraries. Turnout probably will be small. Many people rarely go to polls, and indifference is worse in low-key local referendums like this one, which culminates Nov. 9.
The only voters likely to show up will be those who care deeply about the question on the ballot. We think the question is important, and a "yes" vote is urgently needed. Here's why:
State law lets progressive-minded residents who care about their children's future voluntarily increase their own property taxes -- up to 100 percent -- to strengthen schools. Kanawha County has done so for decades, periodically voting to renew the excess levy.
However, in last year's renewal, the extra collection was limited to 65 percent. Soon afterward, two calamities struck: The county school system suffered a significant budget deficit, and a state Supreme Court ruling wiped out $3 million yearly support for the county's public library network.
To repair these two problems, a majority of school board members set this further election to boost the excess levy back to 100 percent, where it should have been anyway. If the proposal passes, schools will gain about $21 million and libraries $3 million. The increase would add about $125 property tax for a middle-class family with a $100,000 home and newer car.
Every culture has some tax-haters who oppose any payment to aid their community, state or nation. Dissident school board member Pete Thaw is trying to mobilize those haters to kill the 100 percent plan. We hope he fails, and supportive voters prevail.
But it won't happen unless conscientious Kanawha residents rouse themselves and go to the polls. Early voting makes it easy: Just stop by the voter registrar office at Court and Quarrier streets and punch a ballot. Special parking is provided.
The early voting period lasts until Nov. 6. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today, then 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays -- except for Thursday, when the office stays open late until 7 p.m.Either early or on Election Day, do your duty.