by Nick Swartsell
105 days ago
Posted In: News
at 11:03 AM | Permalink
Proposed welfare reforms could make "one stop shops" for services; is Miley Cyrus planning a Leelah Alcorn benefit concert?; Bush campaign operative resigns after offensive online comments
Good morning! This week is going crazy slow but it’s half over now, so that’s awesome. But the news isn’t going slow, and it’s never half-over. It’s always hurtling forward. Always changing. Growing. Watching. Ok. Maybe not watching. But those other things. Sorry. I didn’t get much sleep last night. Let’s get to it. Gov. John Kasich yesterday came to Cincinnati to detail his plans for reforming the state’s welfare program to leaders from a number of county social service agencies. Kasich says his plan will simplify welfare services in Ohio, which can currently sometimes be a complicated array of various service providers clients must navigate to get help. Kasich would like to gather as many services as possible under a single roof, saving the state money. Those agencies that don’t go along with the plan could lose state funding. But some providers are wary of too much consolidation, as various agencies in different counties often serve very different populations. Kasich called those concerns “turf battles,” though some providers see the issue differently. Kasich has yet to release all the details of his proposed changes.• The debate over what to do about Hamilton County’s morgue and crime lab is turning into something of a shouting match. Republican Hamilton County Commissioners President Greg Hartmann clearly hit a nerve last week when he called Hamilton County’s crime lab “a luxury item.” Now Democrats are firing back at the assertion. Yesterday, Hamilton County Democrat Chairman Tim Burke berated Hartmann in a letter suggesting the commissioner is playing politics with the crime lab and morgue, which have been at the center of a county budget debate. Both offices, which share a building on University of Cincinnati’s medical campus, are in need of extensive upgrades. “I’m sorry, but the need for a modern morgue and crime lab is so clear that I can only conclude that your failure to fulfill the Commissioner’s duty to provide that must be due to the fact that our County Coroner is a Democrat who you don’t want to see succeed,” Burke said in the letter.All parties agree the lab needs updating. Republican Commissioners Hartmann and Chris Monzel, however, say retrofitting a former hospital in Mount Airy donated to the county will be too expensive at $100 million. They’re suggesting the possibility of partnering with neighboring governments to create a regional lab. Conditions in the current building are so cramped that neither the crime lab nor the morgue has room for the extra employees it needs to process the increasing amount of work it must undertake. Other issues include an outdated electrical grid that won’t allow all the lab’s equipment to be plugged in at the same time and an insufficient plumbing system beneath the building that causes the build up of autopsy debris.• Sticking with news about the county for another beat, 100 Hamilton County poll workers have been dismissed from their jobs for not voting in the last election. Officials with the Hamilton County Board of Elections have said they want to encourage voting, and if their employees aren’t doing it, it sends the wrong message. I’m not sure how I feel about this. It’s kind of like wearing American Apparel when you work there or tweeting your articles when you’re a reporter — probably a good idea, but mandatory? Seems a little harsh. • A quick bit of gossip and speculation: is Miley Cyrus planning a benefit concert in memory of Leelah Alcorn? Could be. Recent social media posts by Cyrus show rehearsals for an upcoming project and a notebook that says “Leelah set list,” the Columbus Dispatch reports. Alcorn, a transgender teen, died Dec. 28 after throwing herself in front of a truck on I-71. She left a suicide note on social media explaining the isolation she felt when her family did not support her transgender status. • Three people were killed this morning in Chapel Hill, North Carolina after a gunman entered their home and shot each in the head. The alleged gunman, forty six-year-old Craig Stephen Hicks, turned himself in immediately following the shooting deaths of Deah Barakat, Yusor Mohammad and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, all local university students. Though no official motive has been determined, the killings may have involved the fact the three were Muslim. Hicks, an outspoken atheist, had recently put photos of guns on social media as well as writing anti-religious posts.• Finally, a high-level campaign operative for potential presidential candidate and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush resigned today after racially and sexually charged comments he allegedly made online recently came to light. Ethan Czahor was chief technology officer for Bush’s Right to Rise political action committee. In Twitter posts before he was hired in January, Czahor made disparaging remarks about gay men and called women “sluts.” One grade-A post from 2009 reads, “new study confirms old belief: college female art majors are sluts, science majors are also sluts but uglier." Wow. Bush’s campaign initially called the tweets inappropriate but let Czahor stay on. He resigned yesterday after other racially insensitive statements attributed to him were found on a website for a radio show he worked on in 2008.
by Nick Swartsell
Posted In: News
at 11:04 AM | Permalink
Distillery coming to OTR; FitzGerald to Hamilton County Dem. chair: "I'm a procrastinator"; conservatives once again craft plans to repeal Obamacare
Morning all. There is a busy weekend’s worth of news to recap, but before we get to that, I just gotta say this: I went to something called Mustard Club Saturday, and it changed my life. While I haven’t been quite as up on the German heritage tip as a lot of folks in the city are, this monthly event in Corryville may change that. Here’s a little hint: all you can eat pretzels, mashed potatoes, German desserts and, of course, various meat products. Oh, and lots of German beer if you’re into that. Anyway, down to business. • Tonight at Xavier, a woman whose father saved 669 Jewish children during the Holocaust will meet one of those survivors. Barbara Winton is the daughter of British stockbroker Nicholas Winton, who in 1938 took steps to find foster parents for Czechoslovakian Jewish children caught up in the horrors of Nazi genocidal programs. She’s written a book about his life, called If It’s Not Impossible, and tonight at the Cintas Center she’ll meet with Renata Laxova, who at 8 years old left Prague for the safety of Britain thanks to Winton’s efforts. Laxova, who became a geneticist, is 83 today and lives in Madison. Wis. She was among the last children Winton was able to rescue. Amazingly, Nicholas Winton is still alive today, but at 105, he’s not able to make the ceremony, which is part of Xavier’s “Touching History” series.• Over-the-Rhine is already a brewing hub, but soon the neighborhood will be host to a distillery for gin, whiskey and bourbon for the first time in a long time. Owners of local pet store PetWants recently purchased a 17,000-square-foot warehouse on Central Parkway and hope to be distilling there by next year. They’re also looking to turn the spot into an event space, as well as running some operations for the pet store from the warehouse.• Mayor John Cranley today announced that he and Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune are requesting the city and county create a shared services task force that will find ways the two governments can work together for the region. Cranley and Portune will discuss their ideas further at a news conference later this morning.• The city is considering turning two major one-way arteries in East Walnut Hills into two way streets. East McMillan Street and William Howard Taft Road will probably be converted to boost traffic and business in the neighborhood. Other parts of the streets were converted into two-way corridors in 2012. A neighborhood hearing on the proposals is scheduled for Nov. 18.• A riverbank park in Lower Price Hill and Riverside is a lot closer to reality. River West, the group planning the park, will receive a $16,000 grant from the Greater Cincinnati Foundation and a $30,000 grant from nonprofit Interact for Health for the project. The group has been pushing for the park for the last seven years, when it successfully fought plans to turn the area into a landing spot for barges. The group worked with the city, which rezoned the land. The 16-acre park, which will be called Price Landing, is still in the early stages, with community input and design phases expected to begin next year. One feature on the table is an extension of the Ohio River Trail. • If you’re curious about what Hamilton County’s GOP and Democratic party chairmen thought of local and state elections this year, you’re in luck. They shared some candid thoughts Friday at a post-election luncheon for the city’s political bigwigs. Dem chairman Tim Burke bemoaned the county’s 45 percent voter turnout rate, which he said was the lowest since 1978. He also said he saw Democrat gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald as a good candidate but a long shot to topple Kasich, at least until it was revealed that FitzGerald hadn’t had a driver’s license for 10 years. Burke says FitzGerald told him “I’m a procrastinator” as an explanation for the gaffe that tainted his campaign. GOP Chairman Alex Triantafilou had his own insights and revelations about the election. He acknowledged that the trend for the GOP in the county, like in many urban places, is anything but promising long term, but promised that the party would continue to field good candidates. Triantafilou also had some nuanced thoughts about Gov. Kasich’s reelection, saying the incumbent took a more centrist tack this time around after big backlash over the effort to repeal collective bargaining rights for state employees he undertook after voters elected him the first time. That hasn’t endeared him to the state’s tea party faction, Triantafilou said, but won him enough support to take the election by a large margin. • In state news, Ohio earned a C grade on a new report for its legislative efforts to stop human trafficking. Fourteen other states also received the middling grade from nonprofit Shared Hope, which gave Ohio a score of 78 out of 100, a five point bump from last year. The report said Ohio has made some positive steps in terms of creating specific crimes for those who engage in the sex trafficking of children but has more work to do in terms of trying to limit demand for such services.• Conservative groups are already pushing for likely Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to pass legislation defunding or repealing Obamacare. The rifts in the GOP that were very evident in the last budget fight have reappeared, with tea party-aligned groups like Senate Conservatives Fund and Heritage Action signaling that they’ll push senators and representatives to pursue strategies for repealing the health care law. But it will be tough for McConnell to lead a repeal of the law. Republicans still don’t have 60 votes in the Senate to override a filibuster from Democrats and wouldn’t be able to get past a presidential veto even if they could get legislation out of the Senate.
by Nick Swartsell
Posted In: News
at 12:55 PM | Permalink
Republican secretary of state's name prominently featured on required polling place signs
Theoretically, there is no better real estate for a political candidate than the inside of a polling place, where a candidate’s name can be freshly stamped onto voters’ minds as they enter the voting booth. Currently, though, only one politician in Ohio gets access to this potential last-minute plug: Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted. He says recent voter information signs prominently featuring his name are standard issue for secretary of state. But Democrats say he’s taking unfair advantage of his position.There are laws against campaigning in polling places, and bumper stickers, buttons or other campaign swag are frowned upon in our temples of democracy the way movie theaters hate it when you try to sneak in some Twizzlers or a bunch of McChicken sandwiches in your pants. (I tried this once and the theater wasn’t too happy. I think you can sneak snacks into the polling places, though.)So big signs with your name on them are a no-go, unless you’re the current secretary of state, charged with overseeing elections. Then you’re required to draw up informational posters with instructions on how voters can update their voter registration and make sure they’re at the right polling place. These posters can be posted at voting locations. You can also put your name on those things. Real big, if you want to. Husted definitely wanted to, and did, emblazoning his name and signature on 2-foot by 3-foot posters that his office is now requiring all polling places to post. That has Democrats, including Hamilton County Democratic Chairman Tim Burke, crying foul. Burke has taken exception to the inclusion of Husted’s name “the size of an oversized bumper sticker” on those posters. Burke is also chair of the Hamilton County Board of Elections, and he fired off an email earlier this week to Husted’s office demanding clarification about the requirement polling places post the posters. The letter contained some not-so-subtle digs as well.“I am struggling to understand how it is legitimate or fair to create a situation where you will be the only candidate on the ballot in next month’s election to have your name prominently displayed along with the office to which you seek reelection in each polling place,” Burke wrote in the message dated Oct. 7. Burke also questioned the inclusion of a second, 11-by-17-inch poster that likewise prominently features Husted’s name. That poster, designed by a 5th grade contest winner, has little factual information about voting, Burke says. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matt Damschroder replied later that evening, saying the posters are a routine task for the secretary of state’s office and that Husted’s name and signature are present to assure voters that the poster is official. Damschroder also pointed out that county board of elections members, such as Burke, have their signatures displayed at the bottom of ballots. Those signatures are small, however, and are unaccompanied by text spelling out the commissioners’ names. Perhaps they should work on the size and legibility of their autographs.Let’s not forget the fifth-grade contest winner in all this. Damschroder said polling places aren’t required to post that poster. “We have simply suggested that boards of elections post the winning design to advance the two-fold goal of encouraging participation in the democratic process, generally, and building civic-mindedness among the next generation of voters,” he said. If that kid is following along with what’s happening to that poster, she or he is surely getting a lesson about politics as well.
by German Lopez
Posted In: Voting
at 10:27 AM | Permalink
Critics warn of potential chilling effect
As county and state officials move to investigate and
potentially prosecute voter fraud cases, local groups are pushing back,
warning that the investigations could cause a chilling effect among
Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls became the latest to speak out
in a letter to Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters and Ohio Secretary
of State Jon Husted.
“The current legal investigations perpetuate the idea that
voter fraud is widespread, when it’s not true,” she wrote. “We need to
work together to give citizens the confidence that the election process
is fair and accessible to those who have followed the law and
pre-determined process. When citizens are confused about the process of
voting they are intimidated from exercising their full rights to vote,
which erodes confidence in and the integrity of our democracy.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio (ACLU) and
League of Women Voters of Ohio sent similar letters to Husted in the
past few weeks, echoing fears that the investigations will intimidate
voters into staying out of future elections.
The controversy surrounds 39 “double voter” cases recently sent to the county prosecutor by the Hamilton County Board of
Elections. In most of the cases, the voters in question sent in an
absentee ballot prior to Election Day then voted on Election Day through a provisional
ballot, which are given to voters when there’s questions about
eligibility. Even though the voters technically voted
twice, their votes were only counted once.
The letters from Qualls and the League of Women Voters claim
the cases were sent to the county prosecutor based on a narrow
interpretation of state law and other sections of election law back the voters’ actions.
The letters reference Ohio Revised Code Section 3509.09(B)(2),
which says, “If a registered elector appears to vote in that precinct
and that elector has requested an absent voter's ballot for that
election and the director has received a sealed identification envelope
purporting to contain that elector's voted absent voter's ballots for
that election, the elector shall be permitted to cast a provisional
ballot under section 3505.181 of the Revised Code in that precinct on the day of that election.” The law goes on to clarify only one of the votes should be counted.
Husted broke a tie vote in the Hamilton County Board of
Elections on May 31, siding with the Republicans on the board who wanted
to send the case to the county prosecutor.
Alex Triantafilou, an elections board member and chairman
of the Hamilton County Republican Party, says Republicans just want an investigation.
“I think anytime a person casts two ballots we ought to
ask why,” Triantafilou says. “This is not to prejudge any of these cases
as criminal charges. That’s not been our intention. What we want is a
qualified investigator to ask the question and then answer it.”
Tim Burke, chairman of the local elections board and the
Hamilton County Democratic Party, disagrees: “This is a damn shame.
What’s happening to those voters is absolutely wrong.”
Burke claims the law was followed and no further investigation is necessary. He alleges
Republicans are trying to suppress voters.
“I fear that what’s going on is that elements of the
Republican Party want to create the impression that there is massive
voter fraud going on, and they want to scare the hell out of people to
intimidate them and discourage them from voting in the future,” Burke
says. “I think part of what’s going on here is an effort to identify
voter fraud in order to justify more restrictions on voting rights.”
Triantafilou argues Democrats, including Burke, are
playing politics: “It’s a continuation of the kind of fear that
Democrats try to instill in the electorate, and it’s a political weapon.
We’re not trying to do that. They alleged voter suppression in the last
election cycle. That was nonsensical. The problem really is fraud.”
by German Lopez
Day of fasting today, local joblessness drops in March, parking petition process questioned
Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld is asking Cincinnatians to take
part in the Greater Cincinnati Day of Fasting today and put off lunch to help support the Freestore Foodbank. Sittenfeld’s office said in a press release that the event will allow
participants to “experience a small measure of the hunger that is a part
of many people’s daily lives.” There will be a ceremony for the event
at noon in Fountain Square, where participants will be able to donate to
the Freestore Foodbank.
March was another decent month for jobs in Cincinnati, with the seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate dropping to 7.5 percent,
down from a revised 7.9 percent in February and 8 percent in March
2012. Michael Jones, research director at the University of Cincinnati
Economics Center, says most of the job growth is attributable to
Cincinnati’s growing health care services, but manufacturing has also
provided a local boon.
An anonymously posted video questions the legitimacy of some parking plan referendum petitions, but so far no formal challenges
have been filed against the referendum effort. Even if somebody were to
file a challenge, Hamilton County Board of Elections Chairman Tim Burke
says it would required a lot — nearly 4,000 signatures — to halt a
referendum: “Because they are so far over, there’s going to have to be
more evidence by any petitioner that there are problems well beyond
those five or six sights shown in the video.”
There is now a local effort to embrace the Cincinnati Preschool Promise,
a private-public partnership that would get more local children in
preschool. The current goal is to get 25 to 50 children in preschool in a pilot
program this fall. Studies show preschool is one of the best investments
that can be made for the economy in the long term. Local preschool
services were recently cut as a consequence of federal sequestration, a series of across-the-board federal spending cuts that began March 1.
UC President Santa Ono is recommending the school freeze in-state tuition for the next school year
— a measure the UC Board of Trustees will consider in June. Ono also
said he will not take a salary increase or bonus for the next two years,
and he is asking the school to sell the presidential condo and use the
money to pay for scholarships.
While testifying to legislators reviewing his two-year budget request, State Treasurer Josh Mandel said his office has been targeted by cyberattacks, and the technology currently available to his department is not good enough to hold off the attacks.
Humana will hire 60 people for its customer service center in downtown.
Brain cells will control the power plants of the future.In a press release, Mayor Mark Mallory proclaimed today
Zips’ Cafe Day because the restaurant is finally adding bacon to its
by German Lopez
Board of Elections looking into anonymous video, but no formal challenge filed
A YouTube video
posted Sunday suggests that some of the parking plan referendum petition
signatures might have been gathered without a legitimate witness, but city
and county officials are so far unsure whether the video, which was posted anonymously, will amount to
much.Under Ohio law, petitions require signatures from both a supporter, who must reside in Cincinnati in the case of parking petitions, and a witness, who must be an Ohio resident and witness the act of someone signing the petition. The video shows what seems to be parking petitions placed on business counters with limited supervision — potential evidence that some of the parking petitions were signed without a witness present.
Tim Burke, chairman of the Hamilton County Democratic
Party and Hamilton County Board of Elections, says the Board of
Elections is currently looking into what process needs to be followed as a result of the video.
Traditionally, Burke says, someone has to file a challenge,
which would then be investigated by the board. At that point, the board
would rely on subpoenas to get testimony from witnesses to determine
whether their petitions were valid.
“Under oath, circulators are likely to tell us the truth,”
Burke says. “Did you witness all the signatures on that parking petition? If he says no or she says no, ... then none of those
signatures are valid.”But Burke says it’s so far unclear whether that process will happen.
“The video is interesting, but it doesn’t prove anything,”
he says. “Any challenger would have to link each one of those shots in
the video to specific petitions that were signed by the circulator of
the petition that was on those counters.”
Even if someone did bring a challenge, it would
require nearly 4,000 invalid signatures to halt the parking plan referendum effort.
Yesterday, the Board of Elections announced the referendum effort had
gathered 12,446 valid signatures — considerably more than the 8,522
“Because they are so far over, there’s going to have to be
more evidence by any petitioner that there are problems well beyond
those five or six sights shown in the video,” Burke says.Circulators who mishandled the process would
not face charges; instead, the signatures would simply be
discarded, according to Burke.
City Solicitor John Curp says the city’s law department is
taking “no side on whether there’s a vote,” and the city administration
has not taken action based on the video.
Curp says he would like to confirm whether those are parking petitions and if the video is factual in its presentation.
“If those were parking petitions, that was certainly troubling,” he says. “I hope this gets worked out in a timely manner.”
The parking plan would lease the city’s parking assets to
the Greater Cincinnati Port Authority to help balance the city’s
operating budget deficits for the next two years and fund development
projects around the city, including a downtown grocery store (“Parking Stimulus,” issue of Feb. 27).
Opponents say they’re concerned the plan will lead to
higher parking rates and extended hours that will hurt the local
economy. With 12,466 valid signatures, their referendum effort is
expected to culminate in a vote this November.
City officials previously warned that without the parking plan the city will have to lay off cops and firefighters.
The full video is embedded below:
0 Comments · Wednesday, February 13, 2013
The Anna Louise Inn and Western &
Southern will meet again in court in April to begin the next chapter of
the ongoing zoning dispute between the longtime neighbors.
by German Lopez
Hearings set with Judge Norbert Nadel for April
The Anna Louise Inn and Western &
Southern will meet again in court in April to begin the next chapter of
the ongoing zoning dispute between the longtime neighbors.
In a Feb. 8 ruling, the Ohio First
District Court of Appeals agreed with a lower court that Cincinnati
Union Bethel, which owns the Inn, filed an incomplete permit
application. The ruling asks CUB to resubmit the funding requests to the
city of Cincinnati — except this time CUB will have to include details
about previously omitted parts of the Anna Louise Inn and the Off the
But Tim Burke, attorney for CUB, says CUB
already carried out the court’s requirements. After Judge Norbert Nadel
ruled May 4 that the Inn didn’t properly fill out its original
application, CUB started a second chain of applications to obtain a
conditional use permit to meet Nadel’s zoning specifications. The new
applications have been approved by Cincinnati’s Historic Conservation
Board and the Cincinnati Zoning Board of Appeals, but Western &
Southern is appealing those rulings as well.
Last week’s appeals court ruling sent the
case back down to the lower court on a legal technicality. With the
ruling, all the Anna Louise Inn cases, including the separate chain of
zoning appeals, are essentially consolidated to Nadel.
The dispute began in 2010, when Western
& Southern sued the Anna Louise Inn over zoning issues to block $13
million in city- and state-distributed federal loans to renovate the
building. Western & Southern declined an opportunity to purchase the
building in 2009, but now seems interested in turning it into a luxury
The Anna Louise Inn is a 103-year-old
building that provides shelter to low-income women. Its Off the Streets
program helps women involved in prostitution turn their lives around.For more information about this ongoing dispute, visit CityBeat's collection of coverage here.
by German Lopez
Court likely to rule in 30-45 days
The Anna Louise Inn, the city of Cincinnati and Western
& Southern (W&S) met for what could be the final time in court
today. For the most part, both sides took their time at the Ohio First
District Court of Appeals to restate past arguments.The three-judge panel heard 15-minute arguments by both sides. It is expected to give a final decision in 30 to 45 days. During the hearing, W&S lawyer Francis Barrett insisted that the
Anna Louise Inn meets the definition of a “special assistance shelter,”rather than “transitional housing” as it was originally classified, due to the
Off the Streets program, which helps women involved in prostitution turn
their lives around. The difference in labels could have substantial
implications for the Anna Louise Inn and whether it can go ahead with
its planned $13 million renovation. However, the inn has already
obtained a conditional use permit for its renovations in light of the original court decision classifying it as a special assistance shelter.
Tim Burke, lawyer for the Anna Louise Inn, rebutted by
asserting that the record shows the Anna Louise Inn has never acted as a
special assistance shelter. In one example, Judge Sylvia Hendon asked
Burke if the Anna Louise Inn would take in a woman in the middle of the
night since it is not a special assistance shelter. Burke responded by
saying the Inn would turn the woman away, as required under zoning code:
“She will be directed to one of the traditional homeless shelters. She
is not admitted to the Anna Louise Inn. The program does not operate
that way, and it never has. And the record is absolutely clear about
that.”The ongoing feud was triggered
by Cincinnati Union Bethel’s (CUB) refusal to sell the Anna Louise Inn
property to W&S. The company originally offered $1.8 million to buy
the Anna Louise Inn in 2009. CUB declined, and it eventually obtained
$12.6 million in state- and city-distributed federal funding for long-needed renovations.
From that point forward, relations between CUB and W&S
deteriorated, as CityBeat previously covered in detail (“Surrounded by Skyscrapers,” issue of Aug. 15)When asked how the hearings went, Burke replied, “You never know … until
you hear the decision.”
by Kevin Osborne
Burke: Poll workers aren't 'election police'
The local Republican Party
this week sent a mass email to its members with a message from Ohio Secretary
of State Jon Husted, urging them to sign up as poll workers for this fall’s
presidential election.Alex Triantafilou, chairman
of the Hamilton County Republican Party, sent the email Tuesday.Husted noted that 40,000 poll
workers are needed across Ohio. “We can debate the efficacy of the law and
voting procedures until we are blue in the face, but the truth is that those
40,000 individuals can have more of an impact on the ultimate success of our
elections than the Secretary of State, lawmakers and judges combined,” he
wrote.When informed about the
email, the head of Hamilton County’s Democratic Party said more poll workers always
are needed. But he is worried those spurred to apply because of Husted’s email
will do so due to the wrong motivation and potentially could cause problems at
the polls.“Many of our poll workers
serve year after year in multiple elections,” said Tim Burke, Hamilton County Democratic
Party chairman. “Just because this November is a presidential election
doesn’t mean that our trained and experienced workers should be pushed aside by
those folks, on either side, who want to be poll workers in the presidential,
but not in other elections as well. That is a conversation I have had on a
number of occasions with the election protection leaders on the Democratic
side.”Burke added, “The role of
poll workers should be to assist voters in voting correctly, and better than 99
percent of the time, that is what the poll workers — be they Democrats or
Republicans — properly do. I am hesitant to bring in poll workers who think
their role is to be election police who want to spend Election Day ferreting
out fraud and subjecting qualified voters to cross examinations.”In Husted’s email, the
Secretary of State also acknowledged the partisan battle over the GOP-backed
push for voters to show a photo I.D. at polls.“Unfortunately, the fact that
there is ‘room for improvement’ seems to be the only common ground we have been
able to find when it comes to elections reform,” Husted wrote. “The closer we
get to Election Day, the more heated the rhetoric on both sides will become.
One side believes the law is too restrictive and that legal voters are being suppressed.
The other side says the system is vulnerable to fraud because there aren't
enough checks to ensure only eligible voters are casting ballots.”It should be noted that no
study has ever found evidence of widespread voter fraud.In 2007, a five-year review
conducted by the U.S. Justice Department and ordered by President George W.
Bush found that just 120 people had been charged and 86 convicted as of 2006 —
a miniscule amount when compared to the number of eligible voters in the United
States.Back then, The New York Times
wrote, “A federal panel, the Election Assistance Commission, reported last year
that the pervasiveness of fraud was debatable. That conclusion played down
findings of the consultants who said there was little evidence of it across the
country, according to a review of the original report by The New York Times
that was reported on Wednesday.”The Times added, “Mistakes
and lapses in enforcing voting and registration rules routinely occur in
elections, allowing thousands of ineligible voters to go to the polls. But the
federal cases provide little evidence of widespread, organized fraud, prosecutors
and election law experts said.”
The Republican Party also
tried to raise allegations of voter registration fraud during the 2008 presidential
election, when it began looking like John McCain would lose. When pressed in
November 2008, a top official with the McCain- Palin “Honest and Open Election
Committee” couldn’t cite a single instance in which problems with fake voter
registrations resulted in phony votes being cast.
At Husted’s urging, Republican
state lawmakers recently acted to repeal portions of House Bill No. 194. Facing
a referendum on the law in November that could’ve increased Democratic voter
turnout, the repeal restores some opportunities for early voting and allows
poll workers to guide voters to the correct precinct.In Hamilton County, Democrats
who want to be poll workers should call 513-632-7041; Republicans should call
513-632-7042.Here is Husted’s text in its
April 24, 2012
Dear Chairman Triantafilou,
As Secretary of State, my primary responsibility is to administer a fair
election where eligible voters can freely exercise their right to vote and
have complete confidence in the accuracy of the results. This is no easy
job because the reality is that the system by which we elect our political
leaders will never be perfect.
Unfortunately, the fact
that there is "room for improvement" seems to be the only common
ground we have been able to find when it comes to elections reform. The
closer we get to Election Day, the more heated the rhetoric on both sides
will become. One side believes the law is too restrictive and that legal
voters are being suppressed. The other side says the system is vulnerable
to fraud because there aren't enough checks to ensure only eligible voters
are casting ballots. I continue to believe that we can modernize our
elections system and strike the right balance between maintaining
convenience for voters and guarding against fraud. That balance is critical
and increasingly hard to achieve when the two sides are so far apart.
I firmly believe that the
place for critics is not on the sidelines, but on the field and there is
one way we can put all this energy to a better, more productive use. I am
encouraging all who are earnest in wanting a fair, well-run 2012
Presidential Election to join me on the front lines this November by
signing up to be poll workers. Encourage like-minded friends to do
the same.It takes a team of approximately 40,000 to staff polling places around the
state, and each year all 88 county boards of elections struggle to find
enough people who are willing to take time out of their busy schedules to
serve. We can debate the efficacy of the law and voting procedures until we
are blue in the face, but the truth is that those 40,000 individuals can
have more of an impact on the ultimate success of our elections than the
Secretary of State, lawmakers and judges combined. It is Ohio's poll
workers who interact with each voter and, based on that interaction, have a
direct bearing on that voter's confidence in our system.
I am committed to working with all sides on election reforms in the future,
but for now let's put philosophical differences aside and do our part to
give each Ohio voter the best experience they can have at the polls this
November 6, 2012.
To learn more about
joining Ohio's poll-worker ranks, please visit www.PEOinOhio.com.
Sincerely, Jon Husted