The polls are open in Cincinnati, as city residents take their first step toward choosing a new mayor in today's primary election election.
Polling places opened at 6:30 a.m. and the voting ends at 7:30 p.m.
Board of elections officials are expecting a very low turnout. Hamilton County Democratic Party chairman Tim Burke, the chairman of the elections board, said this morning he believes turnout could be as low as 10 percent.
Libertarian Jim Berns, who sent a hand-written letter to the Hamilton County Board of Elections yesterday, saying he was withdrawing from the Cincinnati mayor's race, told the board today that he wants to be a candidate again.
But, board officials say, there is a legal question over whether Berns could withdraw from the race in the first place.
Tim Burke, the chairman of the Hamilton County Board of Elections, told WVXU that the board's lawyer told the board there is no provision in the Cincinnati city charter allowing candidates to withdraw.
In a hand-written letter, Libertarian Jim Berns has told the Hamilton County Board of Elections he is withdrawing from the Cincinnati mayor’s race, saying he does not want “my participation in the illicit mayoral primary” that costs the taxpayers $400,000
But there are still three other candidates on the ballot - Roxanne Qualls, John Cranley, and Queen Noble. That means the September 10 primary will go forward.
Five candidates filed petitions to run for Cincinnati mayor last week, but only four had enough valid signatures to make the Sept. 10 primary ballot, according to the Hamilton County Board of Elections.
Stacy Smith, a first-time candidate, submitted petitions with 794 signatures, but only 367 of them were valid signatures of Cincinnati voters.
Candidates must have 500 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.
Libertarian Jim Berns has filed petitions to run for Cincinnati mayor, setting up what will be the first mayoral primary election in the city since 2005.
Democrats Roxanne Qualls, a former mayor and now vice mayor, and former council member John Cranley have not filed their petitions yet, but are actively campaigning and raising money and plan to file petitions by the June filing deadline.
Berns' entry into the race guarantees a primary election in the city of Cincinnati on Sept. 10; and it will be a costly one.