Ohio must allow in-person voting 3 days before Election Day, court rules

Published: Friday, October 05, 2012 @ 9:30 PM
Updated: Friday, October 05, 2012 @ 9:30 PM

Tuesday is the deadline to register to vote or to update your voter registration for the Nov. 6. Local board of elections offices and the Ohio Secretary of State will be open until 9 p.m. that day to accept new and updated registrations. Addresses can be updated online at www.MyOhioVote.com.

The U.S. Court of Appeals on Friday reinstated in-person early voting in Ohio on the three days before the Nov. 6 General Election, handing the Obama campaign, Democrats and voting rights advocates what they see as a major victory. Local county elections boards will decide what office hours to add.

The Sixth Circuit court rules that a 2011 Ohio law violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th amendment. That law allowed in-person early voting on the three days prior to the election for military and overseas voters only.

“As a result of this decision, every voters, including military, veterans and overseas voters alongside all Ohioans, will have the same opportunity to vote early through the weekend and Monday before the election,” said Bob Bauer, general counsel for the re-election campaign of President Barack Obama.

In July the Obama campaign and state and national Democratic parties sued Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine to reinstate the in-person voting rules that had been in place since 2005 in response to long lines on Election Day. Friday’s ruling could be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“My office is reviewing today’s decision by the court as we determine the best course of action moving forward,” Husted said in a news release issued Friday. “On Monday we will make a determination on how to proceed legally and provide administrative guidance to Ohio’s boards of elections.”

Rob Scott, chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Party, said he supports Husted’s efforts to get uniformity across the state in voting hours.

“We still fully support that and support it going forward,” Scott said.

Husted’s directive that all counties have the same hours for early voting led to his firing in August of former Montgomery County Board of Elections members Dennis Lieberman and Tom Ritchie Sr.

Lieberman and Ritchie’s lawsuit over the firing is pending before U.S. District Judge Walter H. Rice and could be impacted by Friday’s appeals court ruling because it raises similar constitutional issues, said Montgomery County Board of Elections Deputy Director Steve Harsman.

“I do think it doesn’t hurt our case in any way,” Lieberman said. “It is an exciting ruling and I think it is great for our community.”

The court granted local county boards of election discretion to determine what, if any, early voting hours they will have on the three days prior to the election — which is contrary to Husted’s directive that voting hours be uniform statewide.

“It’s a big victory and it certainly puts the matter back in the laps of the board of elections,” said Ellis Jacobs, of the Miami Valley Voter Protection Coalition, which is a member of the Ohio Fair Elections Network.

“All the members of boards should vote to extend voting hours for all voters on those last three days,” Jacobs said. “(The network) is calling on Husted not to appeal it and to announce that if called on to break any tiebreaker he will vote on expanding hours to all voters, military and non-military alike.”

Evidence showed that an estimated 105,000 Ohio voters cast ballots in person on the last three days before the presidential election in 2008, according to the court.

The court ruling said, “Plaintiffs introduced extensive evidence that a significant number of Ohio voters will in fact be precluded from voting without the additional three days of in-person early voting.”

“While we readily acknowledge the need to provide military voters more time to vote, we see no corresponding justification for giving others less time,” the court ruled.

The court ruled that the state did not prove the extra hours would be overly burdensome for boards.

It’s not clear what local boards will do as local officials said they will need to see what their board members decide. Harsman said he will recommend that the hours be expanded to that weekend to reduce long lines on Election Day.

“I think this is a good thing for the citizens of Montgomery County based on the popularity,” Harsman said.

Steve Quillen, director of the Miami County board said his employees are too busy getting ready for Election Day and he will recommend against weekend hours. He said voters have plenty of opportunities to vote in person or by mail, along with casting ballots on Election Day.

“They have 35 days to vote. It’s not like rocket science,” Quillen said.

Warren County board director Kim Antrican said she does not believe having voting on the three days prior to the Nov. 6 election will be a problem for her staff. “It’s just one more thing we have to do,” she said.

Clark County Board of Elections Director Matthew Tlachac said the issue will likely be discussed at 10 a.m. on Tuesday at the board of elections meeting and Butler County’s Deputy Director Jocelyn Bucaro said the board also will likely decide what to do next week.

Bob Hamilton, chairman of the Champaign County Democratic Party, said the board will likely vote on the issue during its meeting Oct. 18. The additional voting days might present an extra challenge due to the additional work and hectic schedule, but Hamilton said increasing access to the polls is usually a good idea.

“My thought is we want to be open as much as possible for the public if the rest of the board agrees to that,” he said.

Staff writers Tiffany Y. Latta, Matt Sanctis and Ed Richter contributed to this story.

Ohio lawmaker criticizes efforts to remove Confederate monuments

Published: Thursday, August 17, 2017 @ 5:22 PM


            State Rep. Candice Keller, R-Middletown
State Rep. Candice Keller, R-Middletown

Even as Republicans like John Kasich, Rob Portman and Mike Turner call on President Donald Trump to clearly denounce white supremacists, state Rep. Candice Keller, R-Middletown, took to Facebook this week to criticize efforts to remove Confederate monuments.

“There is a statue of Bill Clinton in Arkansas. A man who obviously glorified adultery and perjury,” she wrote. “Lenin’s statue stands in Fremont, Washington, a man who killed millions through starvation and cruelty. Clinton/Gore 1992 was advertised on Confederate flags throughout the nation during that election. Martin Luther King was against gay marriage. Will those statues remain standing?”

Trump unleashed a firestorm of criticism on Tuesday when he blamed both sides for the violence that erupted at the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., that resulted in the death of an anti-protester, Heather Heyer, and the deaths of two Virginia troopers whose helicopter crashed while observing the mayhem.

Keller didn’t directly address the rally, but said it was the Democratic party that “invented white nationalism” and “it’s time to go on the offense.”

Related: Keller and Mandel back plan to punish sanctuary cities “I expect those with a discerning spirit to understand what is happening here,” she wrote. “Soon, the Citadel will be closed down and the Reagan Library will be trashed. Conservatives have surrendered for so long that now we are paying the price….No more running from the liars and pillagers. It’s our country. We are the ones who can make racists afraid again. They need to live in disgrace because they are disgraceful.”

An aide to Keller on Thursday said she was not available for an interview, but she released this statement:

“I condemn in the strongest of terms the violence in Charlottesville and extend my condolences to the families of those who lost their lives that day, as well as the injured. Racism is certainly a cancer that needs to be eradicated from our society. Without question, the most absolute truth our nation was founded upon is that “all men are created equal.”

She added: “My personal Facebook posts over the weekend were simply to provide historical context to the issue of race relations in our country. Also, I was showing that taking down every statue of figures you disagree with is not the answer to this issue. The answer is dialogue. The answer is upholding the sanctity of every human life, no matter the race.”

Ohio Legislative Black Caucus President Stephanie Howse, D-Cleveland, took issue with some of Keller’s Facebook comments.

“When we talk about America’s history, people want to say, ‘Oh, it’s a part of history.’ But it’s a nasty history,” she said. “When we look at those who were fighting for the Confederacy, the Confederacy – it was based on keeping slavery alive and well, which was the destruction of the black community and our African American community. That’s what it was. To say it was anything but that, we are being disingenuous. In having a conversation (with Keller), she really believes the hateful things that she puts out in this universe. It is just very alarming to me and now she is in a place to make laws for all of Ohio.”

Related: Butler County lawmaker appears on white power advocate’s show This isn’t the first time Keller has waded into controversial topics. In February, the first-term lawmaker joined state Treasurer Josh Mandel in backing a proposal to hold elected officials civilly and criminally liable if undocumented immigrants in their sanctuary cities injure or kill someone.

In April, Keller appeared on an online podcast hosted by a man who advocates the 14-word slogan, “We must secure the existence of our race and a future for white children.” The Anti-Defamation League identifies the 14-word slogan as a ubiquitous statement within the white supremacist movement.

Also in April, Keller defended a Facebook post in which she compared Planned Parenthood to Nazis.

Keller received 65 percent of the vote in her conservative district last November.

GOP group seeks records to see if Cordray is mulling a governor run

Published: Tuesday, August 15, 2017 @ 11:25 AM
Updated: Tuesday, August 15, 2017 @ 11:25 AM


            Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, testifies on Sept. 20, 2016, before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs about Wells Fargo. (Ron Sachs/CNP/Sipa USA/TNS)
            Ron Sachs/CNP
Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, testifies on Sept. 20, 2016, before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs about Wells Fargo. (Ron Sachs/CNP/Sipa USA/TNS)(Ron Sachs/CNP)

The Republican Governors Association is once again requesting information on whether consumer watchdog Richard Cordray is mulling a run for Ohio governor even as he serves as the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The organization announced today that it has sent the CFPB a second Freedom of Information Act request for records that would indicate that Cordray is actively pursuing a run. Doing so would potentially violate the Hatch Act, a law that bars some in the executive branch from participating in political activity while serving.

RELATED: Cordray under fire from GOP, banks

The public records request seeks information including correspondence between Cordray and prominent Democratic operatives in the state; a copy of Cordray’s government-issued cell and office phone records from June 1 through the present and a copy of Cordray’s schedule from June 1 on.

This is the second public records request the organization has made in the last two weeks; earlier in August, the group requested that Cordray turn over all e-mails between his office and a wide variety of people in Ohio, including former Ohio Democratic Chairman David Leland, Democratic fundraiser Melissa Barnhart, Cleveland Plain Dealer political columnist Brent Larkin and GateHouse Media, owners of The Dispatch, The Canton Repository and other Ohio newspapers.

RELATED: All eyes on Cordray for decision on governor run

The group said they put out the second request after WVXU reported that Cordray discussed the Ohio governor’s race with the chair of the Hamilton County Democratic party.

“Ohioans deserve to know whether Richard Cordray is using his Consumer Financial Protection Bureau office for political gain at the expense of taxpayers,” said RGA Communications Director Jon Thompson. “If these new revelations are correct, and Cordray did discuss potential gubernatorial debates with Ohio Democrats, he should admit truthfully what he discussed, if he is engaged in prohibited political activity, and why he is so focused on not doing his job.”

Four Democrats are currently seeking the Democratic nomination in the 2018 race: former state Rep. Connie Pillich, state Sen. Joe Schiavoni, former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley.

Woman gets ‘Covfefe’ OK’d for Ohio license plate; others not as lucky

Published: Sunday, August 13, 2017 @ 1:13 PM
Updated: Sunday, August 13, 2017 @ 1:13 PM


            Ohio license plate
Ohio license plate

President Donald Trump earlier this year posted a word on Twitter than nobody ever heard of.

Now that word, “covfefe,” is a vanity license plate for a northeast Ohio woman. However other states don’t allow the word on plates.

The Columbus Dispatch reported today that Brittany Scott thought it worked for her car. “It just fit. I thought it was hilarious.”

READ THE FULL DISPATCH STORY HERE

There are hundreds of vanity license plate numbers submitted to the Ohio Bureau of Moter Vehicles and may are declined.

SLIDESHOW: Ohio’s banned vanity license plates list

Some states like Georgia had banned the word covfefe from license plates.

Ohio bans hundreds of words from appearing on vanity license plates. As of 2013, they included “OHELL,” “IH8NCAA,” “GIGOLO” and more (many of which contain graphic, profane or obscene references).

Netroots Nation: Things to know about the Atlanta meeting

Published: Friday, August 11, 2017 @ 11:02 AM

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts will headline the Netroots Nation conference in Atlanta this weekend. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts will headline the Netroots Nation conference in Atlanta this weekend. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)(The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Netroots Nation, a four-day conference of left-leaning activists, opened Thursday in Atlanta. 

“Part pep rally and part insurgency training,” according to a preview on MyAJC.com,  “the conference includes nearly 200 panels and training sessions designed to teach progressive activists how to reclaim state legislatures, advance LGBT rights in the South and master social media strategy.”

Here are some things to know about Netroots Nation 2017:

Who attends?

Netroots Nation said on its web site that the conference attracts a cross-section of those who call themselves progressives, including “online organizers, grassroots activists and independent media makers,” plus advocacy organizations and supportive companies and labor unions.

Is there a live stream or other ways to follow?

AJC will provide coverage on ajc.com, MyAJC.com and the Political Insider blog. Netroots Nation is posting updates, with some live video on Facebook. Social media updates on Twitter are using #NN17 as the hashtag.

The official website is netrootsnation.org.

When and where is the conference?

Aug. 10-13, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, 265 Peachtree Street NE, (404) 577-1234

HELPFUL LINKS

Netroots Nation conference video and live streams on Facebook

Netroots schedule, including speaker biographies

More things to do in Atlanta this weekend

ALSO in the News: Protesters gather at Rep. Doug Collins Town Hall

Protesters & Supporters Collins Town Hall

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL NEWS

If it happens in Washington or under the Gold Dome — or somewhere else — and it affects Georgians, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has somebody there to tell you what it means. Follow our coverage at http://www.myAJC.com/politics.

Netroots coverage

Follow news from the Netroots Nation as it happens at http://politics.blog.ajc.com/.

Also, see a story about liberals’ ambitions for winning in the South in Sunday’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution.