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Published: Friday, December 15, 2017 @ 1:23 PM
— The state should pay $118 million to upgrade voting machines in all 88 Ohio counties, covering 100 percent of the cost for those willing to use paper ballots and optical scan technology, according to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted.
“The last time Ohio replaced its voting machines, the iPhone hadn’t been released, people still rented movies from Blockbuster, and social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat didn’t exist,” Husted said in a Thursday news release. “It’s time to make updating our voting equipment a priority.”
Most of Ohio’s voting machines were purchased in 2005 and 2006 and were paid for almost entirely with federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) money. Husted and others doubt the current Congress will allocate money to pay for replacing the equipment.
“It’s time for the state’s leaders to step forward and approve a funding plan to replace Ohio’s aging voting technology,” Husted said in a Dec. 14 letter to Ohio Gov. John Kasich and legislative leaders.
Husted wants to see the equipment purchased in 2018 so that there can be a test run in 2019 before the presidential election of 2020.
Husted’s term ends at the end of 2018 and he is running for lieutenant governor on a ticket with Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine in 2018.
State Sen. Frank LaRose, R-Hudson, and State Rep. Kathleen Clyde, D-Kent, are running in the 2018 election for secretary of state.
Earlier this year LaRose introduced a bill that would have had the state pay 80 percent of the cost of the machines and have local governments pay for the rest of the cost. That bill is pending.
“Our members have been discussing the issue for some time, including the potential for some funding for voting machines to come from the capital budget process,” said John Fortney, spokesman for the Ohio Senate Majority Caucus.
Husted’s plan would have the state pick up all of the cost unless counties want something more expensive than than optical scan machines with paper ballots. The Ohio Department of Administrative Services has estimated it would cost $118 million to buy that type of equipment for all counties.
Currently about half the counties use optical scan equipment, including Clark, Champaign, Warren and Preble counties. The other half use electronic touch screen equipment with memory cards and a paper record of votes. Locally, Montgomery, Greene, Butler, Miami and Darke counties use electronic touch screen machines.
Under Husted’s plan the counties would pay the difference if new touch screen machines cost more than optical scan.
Steve Harsman, deputy director of the Montgomery County Board of Elections, said the cost of electronic touch screen machines is expected to be about $200 million if all 88 counties purchased them.
Harsman and County Commissioner Debbie Lieberman both sit on a state task force looking at the voting machine issue.
“We are in full support of the need to replace our aging voting equipment. We are hopeful the state legislature will include in the capital bill funding to help counties financially with the replacement cost,” Harsman said.
He estimates it would cost Montgomery County $8 million to buy new electronic touch screen machines, which Harsman said offer advantages over optical scan equipment.
“So, depending on how much the state provides, the county would have to provide the difference,” Harsman said. “We have been saving from our budget each year for several years. We have approximately $1.2 million in our capital fund and hope to reach 2 million by the time we implement to help offset the financial burden on the county.”
On Thursday Clyde called for the state to mandate a secure paper-ballot system.
“Aging equipment that stores ballots electronically on memory cards must be replaced with systems that use full auditable, vote-marked paper ballots, Cylde said in a news release. “We must modernize to meet the cyber security challenges that are upon us.”
Montgomery County elections officials have said they are very confident in how well protected their electronic voting machines and memory cards are.
The issue of voting system and voting machine hacking was huge in 2016 after hackers, believed to be from Russia, attempted to gain access to voting systems in multiple states. Voting systems, which include online voter registration lists and final election results are online. Voting machines are not. In fact, federal law prohibits voting machines and the tabulation equipment used to count paper ballots and electronic voting machine memory cards from ever being connected to the internet.
In Ohio the voting equipment, ballots and memory cards are kept under lock and key at county boards of elections and can only be accessed by a pair of staff members — one a Democrat and the other a Republican.
When results are tablulated on election night they are put on a thumb drive, provided by the secretary of state, that is then put into a dedicated computer to transmit the results to the state. That thumb drive is used just once to avoid contamination by any online bugs.
Backups of all results are kept by all the counties and the paper ballots and the electronic machines paper records are kept for a period of time until results have been verified and certified.
Other stories by Lynn HulseyTweets by @LynnHulseyDDN
Published: Monday, January 22, 2018 @ 3:45 PM
Updated: Monday, January 22, 2018 @ 3:45 PM
— Attorneys for a condemned killer whose execution was stopped last year after 25 minutes of unsuccessful needle sticks are once again recommending the firing squad as an alternative.
The execution could also proceed if the state adopts a closely regulated lethal injection process that includes a headpiece to monitor the brain activity of death row inmate Alva Campbell and medicine to revive him if the lethal drugs don’t work, attorneys said in a court filing earlier this month.
Without these measures, Campbell’s execution would involve “a sure or very likely risk of serious harm in the form of severe, needless physical pain and suffering,” Campbell’s federal public defenders said in the Jan. 4 filing.
Campbell, 59, was sentenced to die for fatally shooting an 18-year-old man in a 1997 carjacking.
The state unsuccessfully tried to execute Campbell on Nov. 15 in the state death chamber at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville.
After the Ohio prisons director stopped the execution, Republican Gov. John Kasich issued a reprieve and rescheduled the execution for June 2019.
Prison officials said three examinations found usable veins in Campbell’s arms the day of and the day before the execution. But executioners weren’t able to establish successful IV lines when it came time to put Campbell to death.
As a result, using a firing squad for Campbell must be an option, his attorneys argue.
A firing squad wouldn’t cause severe suffering, doesn’t require drugs Campbell might be allergic to or the need to find a vein. It also doesn’t require the involvement of a doctor, the attorneys said in a 533-page filing.
A firing squad “virtually eliminates the unconstitutional lingering death and other severe physical and mental pain and suffering” that Campbell might suffer by injection, the attorneys said.
The Ohio Attorney General’s Office wants Campbell’s request tossed out, saying it’s “beyond the borders of common sense.”
“It would seem indisputable that a firing squad produces greater observable effects on the inmate than lethal injection,” Jocelyn Lowe, an assistant attorney general, said in a Thursday filing.
She also called the proposal a “non-starter” since a judge previously said the firing squad is not an execution method recognized under Ohio law.
At least two U.S. states allow the firing squad, including Utah and Oklahoma, which permits it if other methods aren’t available.
Campbell’s attorneys argue lethal injection is permissible as long as his heart rate, blood pressure and breathing are continually monitored and drugs and equipment to revive him are on hand.
They say Campbell’s health problems pose additional risks for a successful lethal injection. Campbell uses a walker, relies on an external colostomy bag, requires four breathing treatments a day and may have lung cancer.
During the November execution attempt, executioners provided Campbell a wedge-shaped pillow to help him breathe while he was put to death.
The state isn’t obliged to resuscitate an inmate who’s been administered the state’s three-drug lethal injection system, the state replied.
“Providing medical or resuscitative care would directly contravene the court-ordered death sentence,” Lowe said.
Ohio’s next execution is Feb. 13, when Raymond Tibbets is scheduled to die for killing a man at his Cincinnati home. Tibbetts also received life imprisonment for fatally beating and stabbing the man’s wife during an argument that same day over Tibbetts’ crack cocaine habit.
Miami Valley area prisoners on Death Row include:
Richard Bays, 52, Greene County, admitted June 1995 for aggravated murder and robbery of a 76-year-old wheelchair-bound Xenia man.
Davel Chinn, 60, Montgomery County, admitted September 1989, for aggravated murder, robbery and kidnapping of Brian Jones from a downtown Dayton parking lot. Chinn’s co-defendant was later murdered in the 1992 Christmas killings, for which Marvallous Matthew Keene was executed.
Timothy Coleman, 48, Clark County, admitted in April 1996 for drug dealing and aggravated murder of Melinda Stevens, who was scheduled to testify against him in a drug case.
Von Davis, 71, Butler County, admitted May 1984 for aggravated murder of his girlfriend, Suzette Butler, outside an American Legionn hall in Hamilton.
Jason Dean, 43, Clark County, admitted September 2005 on robbery and attempted escape charges and convicted of aggravated murder and other charges in June 2006. He was convicted in the 2005 murder of youth counselor, Titus Arnold.
Antonio Franklin, 39, Montgomery County, admitted September 1998 on arson, robbery and murder charges. He killed his uncle and grandparents and torched their home and then fled to Nashville, Tenn.
Terry Froman, 44, Warren County, admitted June 2017 on aggravated murder and kidnapping charges. He shot his ex-girlfriend, Kim Thomas, 34, in the back of his SUV on Interstate-75 near Middletown in September 2014.
Larry Gapen, 69, Montgomery County, admitted July 2001 on escape, robbery, abduction and aggravated murder charges. He admitted to police that he used a wood-splitting maul to smash in the faces of his ex-wife, Martha Madewell; her ex-husband Nathan Marshall; and her daughter Jesica Young.
Donald Ketterer, 68, Butler County, admitted February 2004 on aggravated murder and robbery charges. He stabbed to death Lawrence Sanders, 83, and struck him in the head with a cast-iron skillet.
Juan Kinley, 49, Clark County, admitted May 1991 for robbery and aggravated murder. He used a machete to murder his girlfriend, Thelma Miller, and her 12-year-old son, David.
Jose Loza, 45, Butler County, admitted November 1991 on four counts of aggravated murder for killing members of his girlfriend’s Middeltown family.
Calvin McKelton, 40, Butler County, admitted in November 1990 on assault, domestic violence, murder, arson, abuse of a corpse and aggravated murder charges. He was sentenced to die for the execution-style shooting of Germaine Evans Sr., a witness who saw him strangle to death his girlfriend, Margaret Allen.
Samuel Moreland, 63, Montgomery County, admitted May 1986 on five counts of murder and three counts of attempted aggravated murder. He shot or beat to death two women and five children in their Dayton home.
Austin Myers, 23, Warren County, admitted October 2017 on aggravated murder, kidnapping, robbery, theft, safecracking, abuse of a corpse and evidence tampering charges. He and accomplice Timothy Mosley were convicted of stabbing to death of Tim Back, 18, at his Waynesville home.
David Myers, 52, Greene County, admitted March 1996 on robbery and aggravated murder charges. He drove a railroad spike into the head of Amanda Jo Maher, 18, of Xenia.
Gregory Osie, 56, Butler County, admitted May 2010 on murder, burglary and robbery charges. He stabbed to death David Williams, a disabled man.
Kerry Perez, 52, Clark County, admitted December 2005, on an aggravated murder charge. He shot and killed Ronald Johnson during a 2003 bar robbery in Springfield.
William Sapp, 55, Clark County, admitted October 1996 on rape, kidnapping, murder and other charges. He was convicted in the beating deaths and rapes of Phree Morrow, 12, and Martha Leach, 11, in 1992 near downtown Springfield.
Duane Short, 50, Montgomery County, admitted June 2006 on burglary and aggravated murder charges. He used a shotgun to kill his estranged wife, Rhonda Short, and Donnie Ray Sweeney.
Kenneth W. Smith, 52, Butler County, admitted February 1996 on aggravated robbery and two counts of aggravated murder. He slashed the neck and beat Lewis Ray and strangled Ruth Ray in their Hamilton home.
Published: Saturday, January 20, 2018 @ 2:51 PM
Updated: Saturday, January 20, 2018 @ 2:51 PM
— Nobody denies the Democratic field of candidates running for Ohio governor is crowded.
But the whether that is a good thing for the party — and its fortunes in November — depends on how the five candidates behave, according to political experts and party officials.
“I am not sure we can assume that a tight primary will damage a candidate for a general election unless the party emerges fractured,” said Mark Caleb Smith, director of the Center for Political Studies at Cedarville College.
Assuming no one drops out — or suddenly appears — by the Feb. 7 filing deadline, Democratic voters will chose among five candidates, two of whom have strong statewide name recognition.
Dennis Kucinich, a former U.S. congressman and former Cleveland mayor, joined the race on Wednesday. Kucinich has twice run for president, but has been out of Congress since 2012, after Republican-led redistricting combined his Cleveland-area district with the one held by Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo. Kaptur defeated Kucinich in the Democratic primary.
Richard Cordray was also a late entry in the Democratic race, joining it in November after leaving his job as director of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Cordray has twice won statewide elections — once for Ohio treasurer and once for attorney general. He lost to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine in 2010. President Barack Obama then picked him to lead the consumer protection bureau.
Former Ohio Rep. Connie Pillich of Cincinnati, state Sen. Joe Schiavoni of Boardman, and Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O’Neill are also in the running. Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley was in the race but dropped out and said she would support Cordray. Former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton withdrew her candidacy after Cordray picked her to be his running mate.
Kucinich on Friday selected Akron councilwoman Tara Samples to join him on the ticket.
Narrowed Republican field
There are just two candidates left on the Republican side: DeWine and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor. The field narrowed when DeWine tapped Secretary of State Jon Husted to be his running mate. Husted had been running for the top job. Then Rep. Jim Renacci changed races and said he would run for the Senate instead of governor after Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel abandoned his bid for that office, attributing the decision to his wife’s health.
Smith says DeWine is the frontrunner in the race and has what he called the “experience edge.” Taylor, who has been in state government since 2003, has taken aim at what she calls “career politicians,” hoping perhaps to borrow from the winning strategy employed by President Donald Trump in Ohio in 2016. She picked Cincinnati businesman Nathan Estruth to be her running mate.
“In many ways the Ohio GOP has been ground zero for a Trump-Kasich proxy war,” said Lee Hannah, assistant professor of political science at Wright State University. “I think that could continue into the primaries although I’m not really sure that Taylor and Estruth can keep up with DeWine and Husted’s fundraising,”
No cake walk
Christopher Devine, assistant professor of political science at the University of Dayton, sees Cordray as the frontrunner in the Democratic race and said the primary will give him a chance to knock off some rust since he hasn’t run for office since 2010.
But it’s far from a cake walk. Kucinich has strong name identification and a working class back story. Pillich is a lawyer, has an Air Force background and is the lone woman in the field. Schiavoni has a strong following in northeast Ohio, a part of the state crucial for any Democrat to win. And O’Neill, while perhaps best described as a wild card, has made enough controversial statements to draw headlines from one end of the state to the other —if nothing else, putting his name before voters.
Senate Republicans have started a process to remove him from the Supreme Court for campaigning while on the bench.
David Pepper, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, says he is staying neutral. The party is holding candidate debates open to any of the Democrats willing to be vetted by the party. Only O’Neill has refused to be vetted, according to Pepper.
Pepper said his goal is to have an energetic, transparent primary and he sees it as a plus that five people and their running mates will be scouring the state for votes and preaching the Democratic message. When it’s over, he expects everyone to unite around the candidate who wins.
“The first thing we need to do is make sure the core Democrats are energized about our candidates,” he said.
RELATED: Kucinich launches governor bidTweets by Ohio_Politics
Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 2:04 PM
Updated: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 2:04 PM
— Former U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich on Friday chose Akron City Councilwoman Tara Samples as his running mate in his bid for Ohio governor.
Samples fills out the field of lieutenant governor candidates in the 2018 race to replace Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who is term limited.
Kucinich, 71, on Wednesday announced his decision to run in the Democratic primary.
RELATED: Kucinich launches governor bid
Samples was elected to council in 2013, works as is a paralegal and is a former court bailiff and U.S. Postal Service employee, according to the Associated Press. Speaking at his news conference in Akron, Kucinich said Samples is a highly regarded community leader, volunteer and political activist and he called it the honor of his life to stand beside her, according to AP.
Kucinich and Samples join a crowded field of Democrats in the May 8 primary. They are Richard Cordray, former director of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, with his running mate, former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton of Akron; former state representative Connie Pillich of Cincinnati and her running mate, Marion Mayor Scott Shertzer; state Sen. Joe Schiavoni of Boardman, and his running mate Ohio Board of Education member Stephanie Dodd; and Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O’Neill, whose running mate is Chantelle E. Lewis, a Lorain elementary school principal.
Candidates on the Republican side are Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and his running mate Secretary of State Jon Husted, and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor and running mate, Nathan Estruth , a Cincinnati businessman.
The filing deadline for the race is Feb. 7.
Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 12:52 PM
Updated: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 12:52 PM
Columbus — State officials are scrambling to hold more than 60 appeal hearings for companies that did not win medical marijuana cultivator licenses in Ohio.
So far, 68 of the 161 rejected applicants have filed for a “119 hearing,” in which a hearing officer listens to the state and the business present their cases on why the licensing decision should stand or be reversed. The window is still open for more rejected companies to request hearings.
“We are just in the process of getting them all scheduled,” said Ohio Department of Commerce spokeswoman Stephanie Gostomski. She added that the hearing she attended lasted two hours and the applicant was a no-show.
Late last year, the state awarded 24 cultivator licenses — a dozen small scale and a dozen large scale.
After the hearing, administrative hearing officers give their recommendation on what should happen. If the applicants don’t like the outcome, their next legal remedy is to file a lawsuit against the state.
Ohio voters in November 2015 rejected a ballot issue to legalize marijuana for medical and recreational use. State lawmakers, though, adopted a law making medical marijuana legal in 2016. Regulators spent 2016 and 2017 establishing rules and reviewing applications from those who want licenses to grow, process, test and dispense medical marijuana.
Not everyone is happy with the process, particularly some who failed to win cultivator licenses.
The Ohio Department of Commerce vigorously defended the process used to pick winners and losers, saying applicants had to clear the initial requirements in five areas before moving on to the second level of scoring.