by German Lopez
81 days ago
Democrats and Republicans clash on moving elections offices to Mount Airy
The Hamilton County Board of Elections on Monday split
along party lines over whether the board should move its offices and
early voting from downtown, Cincinnati’s urban core, to Mount Airy, where only
one bus line runs.
The two Democrats on the board dispute the move. They claim the move would make voting less accessible to voters who rely on
public transportation to make it to the ballot box.
Republicans on the board argue the move would make voting
more accessible to suburban voters and provide free parking that’s
scarcely available at the current downtown offices. They call the move
“good government” because it would consolidate some county services at
Mount Airy, where county officials plan to build a crime lab as long as
the Board of Elections moves with the coroner’s office and provides the
critical mass necessary to financially justify renovations at a former
Republicans cautioned their proposed motion would keep
early voting downtown through the 2016 presidential elections. After that, the
board’s offices would move, along with early voting.
Ohio’s secretary of state — Republican Jon Husted — normally
breaks tie votes on county boards of elections. The secretary of state’s office claims Husted will remain undecided on the issue until he reviews documents from the Board of Elections explaining both sides of the tie vote. But spokesperson Matt McClellan says Husted would like to see the Board of Elections reach a compromise before he is forced to intervene.The board’s vote followed a contentious back-and-forth
between public speakers and board members regarding the looming
decision. Most speakers spoke against the move and labeled it “voter
suppression.” Some dissenters supported the move for its fiscal
Alex Triantafilou, a Republican on the Board of Elections,
accused Democrats of “playing politics” with the move. He claims
Democrats just want to keep early voting in a Democratic stronghold like
downtown.Democrats Tim Burke and Caleb Faux countered that, along the same lines, the Mount Airy facility would benefit Republicans by making early voting more accessible to Republican-leaning suburban voters and less accessible to Democrat-leaning urban voters.
State Rep. Alicia Reece, a local Democrat who spoke at the meeting, rebuked accusations of partisan politics and reiterated an argument she made to reporters on Thursday.
“The reality is the Board of Elections at its current
location has declared both Democrat and Republican winners of
elections,” Reece previously said. “I think the focus is to just make
sure that we have a facility that everyone can have access to, whether
you’re driving or whether you’re on the bus.”
Mayor John Cranley, a Democrat, on Thursday offered free
space at the Shillito’s building in an attempt to keep early voting
But Hamilton County Commissioner Greg Hartmann, a Republican, told CityBeat
the offer is not enough to satisfy the county’s occupancy needs at Mount Airy, even if the city
moves some police services, such as SWAT operations, to the Mount Airy
facility to help fill out the 500,000 square foot building.
“Without the Board of Elections coming with the crime lab,
that’s not enough occupancy,” Hartmann said. “There would be some good
potential co-location opportunities with the city (at the Mount Airy
facility), but not enough to take up 400,000 square feet.”
County officials expect the crime lab to take up 100,000
square feet at the Mount Airy facility, and the Board of Elections would
occupy another 100,000 square feet. So the county needs to fill 300,000
square feet to fully utilize the Mount Airy facility, even if the Board
of Elections moves.This story was updated with comments from the secretary of state’s office.
by German Lopez
91 days ago
Posted In: News
at 12:25 PM | Permalink
Constitutional amendment could appear on November ballot
State Rep. Alicia Reece and other activists are mobilizing a campaign to get a "Voter Bill of Rights" on the Ohio ballot this November.If approved by voters, the constitutional amendment would preserve the 35-day early voting period, expand early voting hours, allow voters to cast a provisional ballot anywhere in a given county, advance online voter registration and effectively prevent legislators from passing stricter voter ID laws in the future.But before it ends up on the ballot, supporters will need to gather 1,000 petition signatures to get the initiative in front of the attorney general and collect 385,247 total signatures by July 2 to file the petition to the secretary of state.The Democrat-backed amendment is in direct response to attempts by Republicans, including Secretary of State Jon Husted and Gov. John Kasich, to shorten Ohio's early voting period and otherwise restrict access to the ballot.A bill currently working through the Ohio legislature would trim the early voting period from 35 to 29 days and effectively end the "Golden Week" in which voters can register to vote
and file a ballot on the same day. It's expected Kasich and Republican legislators will approve the bill.Republicans say the limits are supposed to prevent voter fraud and establish uniform voting standards across the state. Otherwise, some counties might establish longer early voting hours than others.But some Republicans acknowledge that restrictions on early voting could suppress constituents that typically elect Democrats, obviously to Republicans' advantage."I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process
to accommodate the urban — read African-American — voter-turnout
machine," wrote Doug Preisse, close adviser to Kasich, in a 2012 email to The Columbus Dispatch.The constitutional amendment could also help address concerns raised last year when the U.S. Supreme Court repealed parts of the Voting Rights Act that allowed the federal government to better regulate state-level restrictions on voting.In response to some of the concerns, Democratic candidates plan to hold a voting rights forum in Cincinnati on Martin Luther King Jr. Day next Monday. Attorney general candidate David Pepper, secretary of state candidate Nina Turner and state auditor candidate John Carney are scheduled to attend.The Voter's Bill of Rights:
by German Lopez
92 days ago
Troubled execution draws critics, activists push voters' rights, Preschool Promise needs help
A condemned Ohio killer took more than 20 minutes to die in an execution carried out yesterday with a combination of drugs never tried before in the United States. The execution was one of the longest since Ohio resumed capital punishment in 1999. Throughout the nearly 25 minutes that Dennis McGuire took to die, he reportedly gasped and loudly snorted as family members and reporters watched. McGuire's attorney called the execution "a failed, agonizing experiment" and added, "The people of the state of Ohio should be appalled at what was done here today in their names." The new execution method was adopted after the previous drug's supplies ran out because a manufacturer declared it off limits for state-sanctioned kills.In response to the troubled execution, the family plans to file a lawsuit. Ohioans to Stop Executions also called for a moratorium on the death penalty.State Rep. Alicia Reece and other activists are pushing a Voter Bill of Rights that could end up in front of Ohio voters in November. If approved by voters, the constitutional amendment would preserve the 35-day early voting period, expand early voting hours, allow voters to cast a provisional ballot anywhere in the county and advance online voter registration. Many of those measures are controversial to Republicans, who have repeatedly tried to limit early voting in the past couple years. But to get the amendment on the ballot, activists will need to wade through the long, costly process of gathering roughly 385,000 eligible signatures by July 2.Commentary: "Republicans Continue Hindering Access to the Ballot."Cincinnati's campaign for universal preschool is looking for volunteers to help raise awareness and shape the final proposal. The big question is how tuition credits for local families, particularly low-income parents, would be funded under the proposal. Despite the remaining questions, voters could vote on the initiative in November. CityBeat covered the Preschool Promise in greater detail here.The National Weather Service called a Winter Weather Advisory
for most of the Cincinnati area until 4 p.m. today. Drivers should
expect reduced visibility and one or two inches of snow, mostly before
noon.As expected, Ohio officials appealed a ruling that forces the state to acknowledge same-sex marriages on death certificates.The University of Cincinnati is spending more than $500,000 this year on
lights, cameras and off-duty patrols, among other measures, to address continuing concerns about violent crimes around campus.
But some students and parents say the school should pursue more
aggressive efforts, such as selling anti-crime tools in the campus
bookstore.Greater Cincinnati Water Works reopened local intakes along the Ohio River after the W. Va. chemical spill passed yesterday.Cincinnati officials admit yesterday that a pile of old road salt should have been used before other supplies, but the city says it will use the remaining pile before purchasing more salt. Councilman Charlie Winburn raised questions about the salt after he discovered the $316,000 pile.Cincinnati ranked fifth for number of bedbug treatments in 2013.More than 50,000 employees will get job training through the second round of the Ohio Incumbent Workforce Training Voucher Program, according to the Ohio Development Services Agency.Extreme heat forced authorities to suspend the Australian Open for more than four hours yesterday and caused one athlete to hallucinate images of Snoopy.Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy • News: @CityBeat_News • Music: @CityBeatMusic • German Lopez: @germanrlopez
4 Comments · Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Put it all together, and the trend is obvious: Republicans are trying their best to rig the elections.
by German Lopez
134 days ago
Only 11 streetcar workers to lose jobs, federal funds endangered, GOP reducing early voting
Streetcar Project Executive John Deatrick yesterday said only 11 streetcar workers are expected to lose their jobs
following City Council’s pause of the $132.8 million project, far below
the original estimate of 200 city officials gave on Monday. The remaining workers will be moved by contractors to other jobs or
kept under ongoing utility work, which utility companies agreed to
continue despite no longer qualifying for reimbursements from the city,
according to Deatrick. He also said it’s “a wild guess” whether the
number of layoffs will grow in the future.
Cincinnati should expect to return up to $44.9 million in
federal grants funding nearly one-third of the streetcar project even
though the project is only on “pause” as local officials weigh the costs of cancellation and completion, according to transportation experts who
talked to The Cincinnati Enquirer. Without the federal grants, the project is effectively dead.
The two swing votes on council — David Mann and Kevin Flynn — say they
want to evaluate whether it would make financial sense to cancel the
project this far into construction. Deatrick previously estimated
the costs of cancellation could nearly reach the costs of completion after accounting for
$32.8 million in sunk costs through November, $30.6-$47.6 million in
close-out costs and $44.9 million in lost federal grants. But Mann and
Flynn voiced distrust over the projections and called for an independent
Democrats and voter advocates claim Republican legislators are slowly rebuilding “voter suppression” laws
that were the subject of referendum in 2012 before Republicans backed
down. Democrats called on Gov. John Kasich to veto the bills. Among
other measures, the bills would reduce the amount of in-person early voting days
and restrict elected officials’ ability to to mail out unsolicited
absentee ballot applications. Democrats claim the bills are meant to
suppress voters. Republicans argue the measures help
reduce “cheaters,” even though in-person voter fraud is very rare.
Chris Finney, a high-profile lawyer who is critical of local tax breaks for businesses, apologized for denying that he sought tax breaks for his law firm.
Finney sought the tax breaks shortly after criticizing Cincinnati for
granting a tax incentive package to convince Pure Romance to move from
Loveland, Ohio, to downtown Cincinnati. Finney is the top legal crusader
for the Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST), a conservative group with a history of anti-gay causes.
Tea party group One Percent for Liberty nominated Mayor
John Cranley as a “Defender of Liberty for 2013” for his work against the
streetcar project and parking privatization plan. The group previously nominated various conservative politicians and activists from around the
region. The award will be presented at COAST’s Christmas party.
Hundreds of schools and businesses in the Cincinnati area today closed in response to the developing winter storm.
St. Elizabeth Healthcare and TriHealth, two of the areas’ largest health systems, yesterday announced they’re teaming up to reduce costs, improve the patient experience and generate better health outcomes.
Attorney General Mike DeWine yesterday announced he will crack down on electronic raffle operations.
Nelson Mandela, a South African icon of peace, died yesterday.
Mandela was a peaceful leader of the anti-apartheid movement who went
on to become South Africa’s first black president. His consistent
devotion to peace inspired similar peaceful protests around the world. The New York Times put together a great interactive featuring several correspondents who witnessed Mandela first-hand here.
U.S. unemployment fell to 7 percent in November, the lowest rate in five years.
Popular Science explains how to get rid of animal testing.
Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy• News: @CityBeat_News• Music: @CityBeatMusic• German Lopez: @germanrlopez
1 Comment · Wednesday, November 7, 2012
I have never before felt so simultaneously relieved to vote and deterred from it in all my life. And it’s because of astounding voter turnout.
by German Lopez
Today is the last day of in-person early voting. Find your correct polling booth here. Check out CityBeat’s endorsements here.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted is under fire for
alleged voter suppression once again. In response to recent court
rulings on provisional ballots, Husted sent out a directive on Nov. 2 that shifts the burden of proper identification during the provisional ballot process from poll workers to voters. The directive may not even be legal, according to a lawsuit
quickly filed by voters’ rights activists in response to the new rule:
“Ohio Rev. Code § 3505.181(B)(6) provides that, once a voter casting a
provisional ballot proffers identification, ‘the appropriate local
election official shall record the type of identification provided, the
social security number information, the fact that the affirmation was
executed, or the fact that the individual declined to execute such an
affirmation and include that information with the transmission of the
President Barack Obama was at the University of Cincinnati yesterday to make a closing argument
to Ohioans. In his speech, Obama compared his own ideas and policies to
those of Bill Clinton, while comparing Mitt Romney’s ideas and policies
to those of George W. Bush. With just two days of voting left, all eyes
are on Ohio as it could play the decisive role in the presidential election. In aggregate polling, Obama is up 2.9 points in Ohio and 0.4 points nationally. FiveThirtyEight, The New York Times’ election forecast model, has Obama at an 86.8 percent chance to win Ohio and an 86.3 percent chance to win the election.
Early voters packed polling places around the state
yesterday. The line around the Hamilton County Board of Elections
wrapped around the entire building for much of the day. Butler County had a lot of early voters
as well. Early voting was only available to all Ohioans yesterday
thanks to a lawsuit from Obama and Democrats, which opened up in-person
early voting during the weekend and Monday before Election Day despite strong opposition from state Republicans.
Election Day may be tomorrow, but the entire process may not be finished at the end of the day. In 2008, Ohio took weeks to count the last 490,852 ballots.
Slate reenacted the entire presidential campaign, from finding the Republican nominee to today, through video games.
The groundwork is already being laid out for an amendment legalizing same-sex marriage in Ohio, which could be on the ballot as soon as November 2013.
Some in northeast Ohio are still without power due to Hurricane Sandy’s fallout. Most people affected are in Cleveland and surrounding suburbs.
Ohio gas prices are dropping.
Early results from air quality tests show no signs of pollution near shale gas drilling wells. But the results are early, and more tests are ongoing. CityBeat wrote in-depth about fracking and concerns surrounding the process here.
The deadline for Ohio’s exotic animal registration is today.
The new requirement came about after an Ohio man released 50 exotic
animals, including some dangerous predators, shortly before committing
suicide in 2011.A lonely Asian elephant learned how to speak some Korean, and scientists want to know how and why.
by German Lopez
State data glitch causes late delivery of 33,000 updated registration records
An error in how voters update their address online caused
updated registration records to be delivered late to Ohio’s election
officials. With about a week left in Ohio’s voting process, the late delivery might have caused the Hamilton County Board of
Elections to mistakenly reject some eligible voters because officials did not
have the voters’ current addresses. Amy Searcy, director of elections
at the board, says it’s unclear how many registered voters were
affected, but 2,129 updated registration records were sent from Ohio Secretary of State John Husted’s
office. She says the number could end up varying since some of the
records are duplicates.
Across the state, an unknown number of ballots were
mistakenly rejected as 33,000 registration records were sent late on
Monday and Tuesday. Cleveland's The Plain Dealer reported 71 voters were mistakenly rejected in Cuyahoga County.
Matt McClellan, Husted’s spokesperson, said Husted’s
offices were previously unaware of the data, which is why it wasn’t
requested before the glitch was detected by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV).
The glitch caused the BMV to not properly send online address changes to Husted’s office, says Joe Andrews, communications
director at the Ohio Department of Public Safety, which oversees the BMV. He
added, “As soon as we discovered it, we fixed it. And I think that, in
cooperation with the secretary of state’s office, the problem has been
In a directive detailing the delay, Husted touted the benefits of the catch.
“While the timing is unfortunate, we are extremely pleased
that the data from this new system can be sent electronically and will
require minimal data entry,” he wrote. “Additionally, the new system has
the potential to help reduce provisional ballots significantly.”
Outdated registration records are one of the major reasons
voters cast provisional ballots, which are ballots given to voters
whose eligibility is unclear. In 2008, nearly 205,000 provisional
ballots were cast and about 40,000 — about 20 percent — were rejected for varying reasons. Recently, a federal judge blocked an
Ohio law that led to 14,000 of those rejections. Husted followed up that
ruling with an appeal and a request for an emergency stay.Tim Burke, chairman of the county Board of Elections and county Democratic Party, expressed mixed feelings about the caught error.“Obviously, you hate like hell to have the secretary of
state’s office, which had promised to have a very efficient election,
popping something like that on us seven days out,” he says. “Having said
that, I’m glad at least once they recognized that these names are out
there they moved to get them to us so that we can do our best to ensure
that these folks are not disenfranchised because of some administrative
glitch.”He says the board will contact any mistakenly rejected voters.
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 31, 2012
On Nov. 6, America will be watching Ohio
voters to see which presidential candidate we put over the top. But in
Ohio, no issue will hold the long-term weight of Issue 2. The
little-known issue seeks to reform a redistricting process that has long
been dominated by politicized redistricting — also known as
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 17, 2012
The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 16
declined to take up Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s early voting
appeal, meaning Ohio must allow all voters to vote on the weekend and
Monday before Election Day — a right previously reserved for military
personnel and their families. The decision came slightly more than seven
weeks after the initial Aug. 31 decision by a lower court that extended
the three voting days to all Ohioans.