1 Comment · Wednesday, November 7, 2012
By the time this article is published,
the month of early voting and
Election Day will have come to a close, and voters will have made their
choices. But when it’s all said and done, voters will
be making those choices not thanks to Ohio Secretary of State Jon
Husted, but despite him.
0 Comments · Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Despite Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s best efforts
to deter early voting across the state this election cycle, state
election officials estimate that Ohio has seen a record turnout of early
voters this year. CINCINNATI +2
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
In-person early voting is underway in Ohio. Find your nearest polling booth here.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted is asking for an
emergency stay on a recent court order on voting. The order lets voters
vote in any polling place as long as they’re in the correct county. In
his 22-page motion, Husted expressed concerns the “unwarranted,
last-minute litigation” could cause “ongoing harm and confusion.” He
also stated concerns that if the ruling stands, Ohioans will soon be
able to vote from anywhere in the state, regardless of assigned polling
places and counties.
The Anna Louise Inn and Western & Southern
met in court for what could be the final time yesterday. In front of the
Ohio First District Court of Appeals, both sides reiterated their past
arguments. The Anna Louise Inn said it should be classified as
“transitional housing,” not a “special assistance shelter”; and W&S
argued to the contrary. A final decision is expected in 30 to 45 days.President Barack Obama canceled today’s visit to
Cincinnati to monitor Hurricane Sandy storm relief. Both Mitt Romney and Obama have been
heavily campaigning in Ohio, which could play a pivotal role in the
presidential election. Obama will return to the campaign trail Friday.
Meanwhile, a new Romney ad running in Ohio was given a “Pants on Fire”
rating from Politifact. The ad claimed Obama “sold Chrysler to Italians
who are going to build Jeeps in China” at the cost of American jobs,
which PolitiFact said is throwing “reality in reverse.” In aggregate
polling, Obama leads Romney in Ohio by 2.4 points. Romney is up 0.8 points nationally. FiveThirtyEight, the New York Times' election forecast model, now gives Obama a 77.6 percent chance of winning Ohio and a 77.4 percent chance of winning the election.
Supporters of Issue 4 held a press event yesterday. If
Issue 4 passes, City Council will have four-year terms, up from two. The
reform seeks to allow City Council to focus less on campaigning and
more on long-term policy. Opponents say it will make council members
An anti-Obama memo circulated by the CEO of
Cincinnati-based Cintas Corp. is getting some criticism from Democrats.
The memo took issue with Obamacare, possible tax hikes and “over-regulation,” but it does
not specifically endorse any candidate. Caleb Faux, executive director
of the Hamilton County Democratic Party, says the memo is coercive: “I
think that it’s disgraceful that any employer would use the power
implicit in the employer-employee relationship to coerce people while
they are making their voting decisions.”
Build Our New Bridge Now has already raised $2 million.
The coalition will market and lobby to get a new Brent Spence Bridge
built between Cincinnati and Kentucky.
A University of Cincinnati study found green roofs may
require some special plants. The news could shift some ideas in the
green movement, which is currently pushing green roofs as a way to
improve urban water infrastructure. Cincinnati’s City Council and
Metropolitan Sewer District have some plans for utilizing green
infrastructure. Xavier reversed its decision to not pay for birth control
in its employee health plans. The decision comes largely due to Obamacare's requirement most employers pay for contraception
without a copay. Rev. Michael Graham, Xavier's president,
criticized Obamacare’s requirement in an email to Business Courier: “Religious institutions have never been asked to violate their consciences in this profound a manner.”The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency will be holding a
public hearing on Nov. 13 to accept comments on a draft hazardous waste
permit renewal for Spring Grove Resource Recovery, a Cincinnati-based
company.Josh Mandel is touting his alternative to Obamacare. His plan pushes tax benefits, transparency, tort reform,
health savings accounts and allowing health insurance to be purchased across
state lines. However, one study by Georgetown University found insurance
companies may not want to sell across state lines, and a
Congressional Budget Office (CBO) study found tort reform would only
bring down total national health care spending by about 0.5 percent. The
CBO also found repealing Obamacare would actually increase the federal
deficit by $109 billion. In aggregate polling, Mandel is currently
losing to Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown by 5.3 points.
State Republicans introduced a bill reforming Ohio’s municipal income tax code. The bill got praise from business interests, but a statewide group representing local communities doesn’t seem too happy.
Ohio school leaders are asking the state to not regulate the use
of seclusion rooms. The rooms are small rooms that are typically
intended to restrain violent or out-of-control students, but an
investigation by StateImpact Ohio and The Columbus Dispatch found the rooms were often used to punish students and for the convenience of school staff.
The Ohio Department of Education announced a $13 million
Early Literacy and Reading Readiness competitive grant. The program
seeks to help students boost reading skills before the end of the third
Ohio victims of Hurricane Sandy could be eligible for reduced interest rates through the state’s Renew and Rebuild programs.
If you have a disturbing lack of faith in humanity, wait until you read this next sentence: Star Wars 7, 8 and 9 announced.How to protect Earth from asteroids: paintballs.
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.
County leaders say electronic voting machines are appropriately monitored, despite connections to Romney-supporters
1 Comment · Wednesday, October 31, 2012
In the late hours of this upcoming
Presidential Election night, one Democrat commissioner and one
Republican commissioner from the Hamilton County Board of Elections will
tally the final vote to see whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney wins
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 24, 2012
A Cincinnati outdoor advertising company
announced Oct. 23 that it will take down controversial billboards that
opponents claim are aimed at intimidating voters.
by German Lopez
U.S. Senate candidates engage in second round of attacks
For a full hour Thursday night, Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown and
Republican challenger Josh Mandel continued their feisty fight for Ohio’s U.S.
Senate seat. For the most part, the debate centered on the candidates’
records and personal attacks, with policy specifics spewing out in between.
Apparently, the barrage of attacks is not what the
candidates had in mind before the debate started. Throughout the debate, both
candidates asked for substance, not attacks. At one point, Brown said, “I
appreciate this clash of ideas. That’s what this debate should be about.” At another
point, Mandel said, “We need less attacking, and we need more policy ideas to
put people back to work.”
These comments came well into the debate. By that time, Mandel
had criticized Brown for “Washington speak” so many times that an
exasperated Brown quipped, “I don’t get this. Every answer is about Washington
Brown also launched his own attacks, which focused on
Mandel’s dishonesty on the campaign trail, which previously earned Mandel a “Pants
on Fire” crown from Cleveland’s The Plain
Dealer, and Mandel, who is also Ohio’s treasurer, missing state treasurer
meetings to run for political office.
But Ohioans have seen enough of the attacks in the hundreds
of campaign ads that have bombarded the state in the past year. Voters probably
want to hear more about how each candidate will affect them, and the candidates
gave enough details to get some idea of where each of them will go.
On economic issues, Brown established the key difference
between the two candidates’ economic policies: Mandel, like most of his
Republican colleagues, believes in the trickle-down theory. The economic theory
says when the rich grow, they can create jobs by hiring more employees and
expanding businesses. In other words, proponents of the theory believe the
success of the rich “trickles down” to the middle class and poor through more
job opportunities. Belief in this theory is also why most Republicans call the
wealthy “job creators.” Under the trickle-down theory, the wealthy are
deregulated and get tax cuts so it’s easier for them to create jobs.
On the other hand, Brown says he supports a middle-out
approach, which focuses on policies that target the middle class. That is how
sustainable employment and growth are attained, according to Brown. Under the
middle-out approach, tax cuts and spending policies target the middle class,
and the wealthy own a higher tax burden to support government programs.
Some economists, like left-leaning Nobel laureate Paul
Krugman, say the trickle-down theory should have been put to rest with the
financial crisis of 2008. After all, deregulation is now credited with being
the primary cause of 2008’s economic crisis. In that context, more deregulation
seems like a bad idea.
Still, Brown’s contrast to Mandel holds true. Brown has
repeatedly called for higher taxes on the rich. In the debate, he touted his
support for the auto bailout and once again mocked Mandel’s promise to not
raise any taxes. These are policies that do end up benefiting the middle class
more than the wealthy. The auto bailout in particular has been credited with
saving thousands of middle-class jobs.
On the other side, Mandel told debate watchers to go to
his website and then offered some quick talking points: simplify the tax code,
end Wall Street bailouts and use Ohio’s natural gas and oil resources “in a
responsible way.” How Mandel wants to simplify the tax code is the issue. On
his website, Mandel says he supports “a flatter, fairer income tax with only
one or two brackets, eliminating almost all of the credits, exemptions and
loopholes.” A study by five leading economists suggests a flat tax model would
greatly benefit the wealthy and actually hurt the well-being of the middle class
and poor. That matches with the trickle-down economic theory.
Another suggestion on Mandel’s website says, “Help job creators. Reduce
capital gains and corporate taxes, and allow for a small business income
deduction.” The small business portion would help some in the middle class, but
an analysis from The Washington Post
found 80 percent of capital gains incomes benefit 5 percent of Americans and
half of all capital gains have gone to the top 0.1 percent of Americans. So a
capital gains tax cut would, again, match the trickle-down economic theory.
What all this means is on economic issues the choice of
candidates depends mostly on what economic theory a voter believes. Brown
believes in focusing economic policies that target the middle class, while
Mandel mostly supports policies that generally support what he calls “job
creators” — or the wealthy.
On partisanship, both sides once again threw out
different ideas. Although he was asked for three ideas, Brown only gave one:
fix the filibuster. The filibuster is a U.S. Senate procedure that allows 41
out of 100 senators to indefinitely halt any laws. The only way to break the
filibuster is by having a supermajority of 60 senators — a rarity in American
politics. Brown said if this rule was removed, a lot more could get done in
Mandel had different ideas for stopping partisan gridlock
in Washington, D.C. He touted his support for No Budget, No Pay, which would require
members of Congress to pass a budget in order to get paid. He also expressed
his support for term limits, saying lifelong politicians only add to the partisanship
in Congress. Then, in a strange twist, Mandel’s last suggestion was to stop
bailouts, which has nothing to do with partisanship or gridlock in Congress.
Then came Obamacare. Brown said he was “proud” of his
vote and continued supporting the law, citing the millions of Americans it will
insure. Meanwhile, Mandel responded to the Obamacare question by saying, “The
federal government takeover of health care is not the answer.”
The fact of the matter is Obamacare is not a “government
takeover of health care.” Far from it. The plan doesn’t even have a public
option that would allow Americans to buy into a public, nonprofit insurance
pool — an idea that actually has majority support in the U.S. Instead,
Obamacare is a series of complicated reforms to the health insurance industry.
There are way too many reforms to list, but the most basic
effect of Obamacare is that more people will be insured. That’s right, in the
supposed “government takeover of health care,” insurance companies actually gain
more customers. That’s the whole point of the individual mandate and the many
subsidies in Obamacare that try to make insurance affordable for all Americans.
Mandel made another misleading claim when he said Obamacare
“stole” from Medicare, with the implication that the cuts hurt seniors
utilizing the program. It is true Obamacare cuts Medicare spending, but the
cuts target waste and payments to hospitals and insurers. It does not directly
The one area with little disagreement also happened to be
the one area with the most misleading: China. It’s not a new trend
for politicians to attack China. The Asian country has become the scapegoat for
all economic problems in the U.S. But in this election cycle, politicians have
brandished a new line to attack China: currency manipulation. This, as Ohioans
have likely heard dozens of times, is why jobs are leaving Ohio and why the amount of
manufacturing jobs has dropped in the U.S. In fact, if politicians are taken
at their word, it’s probably the entire reason the U.S. economy is in a bad
In the Brown-Mandel debate, Brown repeatedly pointed to
his currency manipulation bill, which he claims would put an end to Chinese
currency manipulation. Mandel also made references to getting tough on China’s
One problem: China is no longer manipulating its currency.
There is no doubt China greatly massaged its currency in the past to gain an
unfair advantage, but those days are over, says Joseph Gagnon, an economist
focused on trade and currency manipulation. Gagnon argues the problem with
currency manipulation is no longer a problem with China; it’s a problem with
Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland and Saudi Arabia.
If the U.S. wants to crack down on currency manipulation, those countries
should be the targets, not China, he argues.
In other words, if currency manipulation is a problem,
Mandel was right when he said that countries other than China need to be targeted. To Brown’s credit, his currency manipulation bill targets any country engaging in currency manipulation, not just China. The problem
seems to be the misleading campaign rhetoric, not proposed policy.
The debate went on to cover many more issues. Just like
the first debate, Brown typically took the liberal position and Mandel
typically took the conservative position on social issues like gay rights and
abortion. Both touted vague support for small businesses. Each candidate
claimed to support military bases in Ohio, although Mandel specified he wants
bases in Europe closed down to save money. As far as debates go, the contrast
could not be any clearer, and the candidates disagreed on nearly every issue.
The final debate between the two U.S. Senate candidates
will take place in Cincinnati on Oct. 25.
by German Lopez
Claim True the Vote is unnecessarily intimidating voters
Ohio Senate Democrats sent a letter to Ohio Secretary of
State Jon Husted and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine on Wednesday asking them
to investigate True the Vote (TTV), a Tea Party group established to
combat alleged voter fraud. The Democrats claim TTV is unnecessarily
In the letter, the Democrats say they would find voter
fraud to be a serious problem if it was happening, but they also note
recent studies have found no evidence of widespread voter impersonation fraud. An Oct. 4
Government Accountability Office study could not document a single case
of voter impersonation fraud. A similar study by News21, a Carnegie-Knight
investigative reporting project, found a total of 10 cases of alleged
in-person voter impersonation since 2000. That’s less than one case a
year.Tim Burke, chairman of both the Hamilton County Board of
Elections and the Hamilton County Democratic Party, says the faulty
voter registration forms, which groups like TTV typically cite as
examples of in-person voter fraud, never amount to real voter fraud.
“Those nonexistent voters never show up to vote,” he says.
“(The forms) were put together by people working on voter registration drives.
Frankly, the intent wasn’t to defraud the board of elections; the
intent was to defraud their employer into making them think they’re
doing more work.”In other words, people aren't submitting faulty voter registration forms to skew elections; registration drive employees are submitting the forms to try to keep their jobs.
To combat the seemingly nonexistent problem of voter
impersonation fraud, TTV is planning on recruiting one million poll
watchers — people that will stand by polling places to ensure the voting
process is legitimate. The Democrats insist some of the tactics
promoted by the group are illegal. The letter claims it’s illegal for
anyone but election officials to inhibit the voting process in any way.
Most notably, Ohio law prohibits “loiter[ing] in or
about a registration or polling place during registration or the casting
and counting of ballots so as to hinder, delay, or interfere with the
conduct of the registration or election,” according to the letter.
Burke says state law allows both Democrats and Republicans
to hire observers at polling booths. However, the observers can only
watch, and they can’t challenge voters. Even if the appointed observers see suspicious
activity, they have to leave the voting area and report the activity
through other means.
The tactics adopted by TTV have an ugly history in the U.S.
Utilizing poll watchers was one way Southern officials pushed away
minority voters during the segregation era. By asking questions and
being as obstructive as possible, the poll watchers of the segregation
era intimidated black voters into not voting. In the post-segregation
era, the tactics have continued targeting minority and low-income
The Senate Democrats make note of the ugly history in their
letter: “It has traditionally focused on the voter registration lists in
minority and low-income precincts, utilizing ‘caging’ techniques to
question registrations. It has included encouraging poll watchers to
‘raise a challenge’ when certain voters tried to vote by brandishing
cameras at polling sites, asking humiliating questions of voters, and
slowing down precinct lines with unnecessary challenges and intimidating
tactics. These acts of intimidation undermine protection of the right
to vote of all citizens.”
TTV has already faced some failures in Hamilton County.
Earlier this year, the group teamed up with the Ohio Voter Integrity Project (VIP),
another Tea Party group, to file 380 challenges to the Hamilton County
Board of Elections. Of the 380 challenges, only 35 remain. The vast
majority were thrown out.
“For the most part, they tried to get a bunch of UC
students challenged because they didn’t have their dormitory rooms on
their voter registration rolls,” Burke says. “All of those were
rejected. We did nothing with those.”
But he said the group did bring up one legitimate
challenge. Some voters were still registered in a now-defunct trailer
park in Harrison, Ohio. Since the trailer park no longer exists,
Burke says no one should be voting from there. The board didn’t purge
those voters from the roll, but the board unanimously agreed to ensure those voters are challenged and sent to the correct polling place if they show up to vote.
Still, TTV insists on hunting down all the phantom
impersonators and fraudulent voters. In partnership with VIP, TTV is continuing its mission to stop all the voter impersonation that isn't actually happening.
VIP is brandishing the effort with a program of its own. That organization is now hosting special
training programs for poll workers. The organization insists
its programs are nonpartisan, but Democrats aren’t buying it.
Burke says it’s normal for Democrats and Republicans to
hire poll workers, but if the Voter Integrity Project program puts the
organization’s anti-fraud politics into the training, it could go too
“The job of the poll worker is to assist voters in getting
their ballots cast correctly,” Burke says. “It’s to be helpful. It’s
not to be belligerent. It’s not to be making voters feel like they’re
doing something evil.”
He added, “If poll workers are
coming in and deciding that they’re going to be aggressive police
officers making everybody feel like they’re engaged in voter fraud and
therefore trying to intimidate voters, that’s absolutely wrong.”