Ohio Democrats say Kasich, Mandel are blowing off records requests
0 Comments · Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Rival political parties in Ohio probably
know more about your elected officials than you do. It’s common practice
for the major parties to file open records requests to get everything
from schedules and emails to staff resumes from officeholders.
by German Lopez
Democratic council members call for extended early voting
In a letter to the Hamilton
County Board of Elections, City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld today asked the
Board to extend in-person early voting hours in the county. Council members
Roxanne Qualls, Chris Seelbach, Cecil Thomas,
Laure Quinlivan, Yvette Simpson and Wendell Young also signed the letter.
Council members Christopher Smitherman, an Independent, and Charlie Winburn, a Republican, were notified
of the letter Thursday, but they did not agree to sign.
voting will begin on Oct. 2 and run until Nov. 2. If hours are not
extended, polls in Hamilton County will only be open on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. If the Board agrees to Sittenfeld's recommendations,
early voting will be extended to 8 p.m. on weekdays and Saturday
The letter brings home a political controversy that has recently gained
national attention. In recent weeks, Democrats have accused state Republicans of extending in-person early voting in
predominantly Republican counties and keeping shorter in-person early
voting hours in predominantly Democratic counties.
Democrats typically point to Warren County and Butler
County — two predominantly Republican counties with extended in-person
early voting — and the recent actions of Ohio Secretary of State Jon
Husted. In the predominantly Democratic counties of Lucas, Cuyahoga,
Summit and Franklin, Husted had to break ties in Boards of Election
on the issue of in-person early voting hours. In every case, Husted
voted against extending in-person early voting hours.
Jerid Kurtz, spokesperson for Ohio Democratic Party, says
the move follows a clear Republican trend: "Every opportunity that
presents itself, Republicans take away the right to vote."
referring to Republicans' initial push to end
in-person early voting in Ohio. In 2011, Republicans passed two laws —
H.B. 194 and H.B. 224 — that ended in-person early voting in the state. After
Democrats managed to get enough petition signatures to put the early
on the November ballot, Republicans repealed H.B. 194. However, by not
repealing H.B. 224, Republicans have made it so all non-military voters
are still disallowed to vote the Saturday, Sunday and Monday before
Election Day. Democrats
and President Barack Obama have filed a lawsuit to restore those early
voting days for all voters, including military personnel and families.Democrats
like Kurtz argue that in-person early voting is necessary to
maintain reliable, efficient elections. In 2004, Ohio did not have
in-person early voting in place, and the state drew national attention
when its long voting lines forced some people to wait as long as 10 hours
to vote. After the debacle, a Republican-controlled legislature and
Gov. Bob Taft, also a Republican, passed laws allowing in-person early voting.But
now Republicans seem skeptical of their own laws.
Republicans say the measures are meant to cut costs and stop voter
fraud, but Democrats say the measures are all about suppressing the vote. In
a moment of honesty, former Florida Republican Chairman Jim Greer told
MSNBC that the measures are about disenfranchising demographics that typically side with Democrats. Even Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin has stepped in to criticize Republicans for what he sees as disenfranchisement.Husted told reporters at Cleveland's The Plain Dealer that he is considering establishing uniform rules. With such rules,
every county would have the same in-person early voting hours.But Kurtz says the talk about a uniform rule is "pure
silliness." He says counties have differences, so they need
different voting times. Instead of worrying about uniformity or what
counties can afford, Kurtz says Husted should worry managing elections
and "empowering people to vote."
The calls for extended early voting come a time when
Hamilton County is facing budget issues. With a $20 million budget
shortfall projected for next year, affording more early voting hours might
be difficult. No official estimate has been released on how much the
extended hours would cost.The Hamilton County Board of Elections will meet Thursday at 9 a.m. to discuss extending in-person early voting hours.
Obama campaign targets LGBT voters in Ohio
0 Comments · Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Barack Obama is the first sitting
American president to express his support for gay marriage, and he’s
hoping to cash in on that political capital come November.
by Kevin Osborne
A pending decision about whether to appeal a federal judge’s decision in a disputed election could place Hamilton County taxpayers on the hook for legal fees in the case.The case involves which provisional ballots to count in the Juvenile Court judicial race between Democrat Tracie Hunter and Republican John Williams from the November 2010 election.Hunter lost by just 23 votes out of nearly 230,000 ballots cast. Some ballots weren’t counted, however, because although they were cast at the correct polling station, they were cast at the wrong precinct table, apparently due to poll worker error. Hunter then filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the board’s decision.U.S. District Court Judge Susan Dlott ruled Feb. 8 that 286 provisional ballots should be counted in the race.On Monday the Hamilton County Board of Elections split 2-2, along partisan lines, about whether to appeal Dlott’s ruling. Because there was a tie vote, the matter goes to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican who likely will side with his GOP colleagues on the board and order an appeal.Like the Republicans on the county elections board, Husted has said state law, not a federal judge, should be the final authority on which ballots are counted.“I am concerned about the continuing involvement of the federal court in prescribing which ballots should and should not be counted in a county judicial race in Ohio,” Husted said in January 2011. “As Ohio’s chief elections officer, I maintain that it is of utmost importance that we take this stand to preserve the authority of state law to govern state elections, as interpreted by the Ohio Supreme Court.”But the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals already has upheld a ruling by Dlott in the case once before. The appellate court ruled in January 2011 that the board should determine how many ballots were cast due to poll worker error.The three-judge panel said not counting ballots that were miscast through no fault of the voter would be "fundamentally unfair." Still, it looks like the board will try its luck with the 6th Circuit once again.It’s routine in cases like this for the victor — plaintiff Tracie Hunter, in this instance — to ask the court to order the defendant to pay legal costs. Although the exact amount of legal fees incurred to date wasn’t immediately available, it’s believed to be in the range of $800,000 to $1.5 million.If an appeal is pursued, the county could be at risk of paying much more. A lengthy appeal process could easily double what’s been spent so far, legal experts said.The expense comes at a time when Hamilton County commissioners are cutting back sheriff's patrols and other county services to avoid a deficit.Husted’s office hasn’t yet received formal notice of the board’s tie vote, a staffer said today. When it does, a legal review will be initiated.“We will make a decision shortly thereafter,” said spokesman Matt McClellan. “We hope to make one soon.”Interestingly, Dlott also commented in her ruling on the apparent unconstitutionality of Ohio law.“Ohio’s precinct-based voting system that delegates to poll workers the duty to ensure that voters are directed to the correct precinct but which provides that provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct shall not be counted under any circumstance, even where the ballot is miscast due to poll-worker error, is fundamentally unfair and abrogates the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of due process of law,” the judge wrote.Dlott said she was unable to order a remedy, however, because the original complaint wasn’t based on a due process claim and the plaintiff had failed to notify the Ohio Attorney General, as she were required to do if she intended to challenge the constitutionality of Ohio law. Since then, though, the notice has been given. Conceivably, Dlott could rule on that issue in the not-too-distant future and order a remedy, namely declaring Ohio’s election laws unconstitutional and unenforceable.
by Kevin Osborne
Nearly 15 months after the disputed election, a federal judge ruled today that Hamilton County elections officials must count roughly 300 provisional ballots cast in a 2010 Juvenile Court judge race.U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott said that the Board of Elections violated the voters’ constitutional rights when it decided to count some provisional ballots but discard others based solely on the location of where they were cast.
by Kevin Osborne
A best-selling author and Emmy Award-winning TV producer will discuss humanity’s common origins at an upcoming political meeting.Jon Entine, author of Abraham’s Children: Race, Identity and the DNA of the Chosen People, will speak Jan. 17 at the Blue Ash Northeast Democratic Club. The topic of his speech will be “Our DNA – Why bigotry and prejudice should be a thing of the past.”
by Kevin Osborne
If GOP leaders thought they were going to get rid of Denise Driehaus with their new state legislature map, they can think again.Driehaus made it official today, announcing she would move into the new 31st House District before next year's election. Several weeks ago, the Republican-controlled state apportionment board reconfigured state legislative district boundaries and radically altered the political makeup of the current 31st House District, which Driehaus represents in Columbus.
4 Comments · Wednesday, April 6, 2011
It’s time to take a sober-headed look at which political party epitomizes the relentless pursuit of a legislative agenda that’s out of step with the American mainstream. Throughout the last two years, we’ve heard one Republican after another bash President Obama and then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for supposedly jamming a “radical agenda” down people’s throats.
Obama campaign hopes to win the swing state by chipping away at Republican strongholds in Butler, Clermont and Warren counties
3 Comments · Wednesday, October 22, 2008
With just a few hours to go before last week’s final presidential debate, Sen. Barack Obama’s supporters at Smokey Bones BBQ & Grill in West Chester were furiously busy. These Democratic volunteers, seated at tables and booths in a set-aside area with their cell phones out, were calling Butler County voters classified from previous research as “undecided” or “persuadable.” They were making calls as quickly and politely as possible before the debate began.