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.

Dennis Kucinich in Dayton region tonight as governor run rumors grow

Published: Monday, April 24, 2017 @ 6:07 PM
Updated: Monday, April 24, 2017 @ 6:15 PM

            Dennis Kucinich

Dennis Kucinich, a potential candidate for governor and former Ohio congressman, will speak tonight in Washington Township, where he is expected to criticize charter schools as a drain on public funding and public schools.

Kucinich, a Cleveland Democrat, spoke earlier today in Columbus, where he told the Columbus Dispatch, that he would not “get into” whether he was planning a bid for governor.

RELATED: Jon Husted takes steps toward governor run

His 6:30 p.m. speech is at the Miami Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 8690 Yankee St. Kucinich will make a short presentation and then take questions from the audience.

Kucinich, a former Cleveland mayor and presidential candidate, served eight terms in Congress until his district was eliminated, when the GOP-dominated Ohio legislature redrew Congressional lines in 2011. That pitted him against U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo in the 2012 primary, which he lost.

Last week Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball political analysis publication said Kucinich was “looming in the background” as a possible Democratic candidate for governor. Democrats who have said they are running or are interested include Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, former state representative Connie Pillich of Montgomery, state Sen. Joe Schiavoni of Boardman and former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton of Copely. U.S. Consumer Finance Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray, a former Ohio treasurer and attorney general, is also considered a potential contender.

RELATED: Ohio leaning Republican for gov race; Dayton mayor strong for Dems

Republicans who have announced or are interested include Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor and U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Wadsworth.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich is in his second and final term.

Kucinich is not expected to announce tonight that he is running for governor, said Adam Smith, spokesman for Public Education Partners, which is organizing the local visit.

Smith said Kucinich is touring the state talking about the privatization of public education.

He said the Dayton region was chosen “partially because the privatization has such a huge impact on Dayton Public Schools (DPS).”

Dayton has one of the highest penetration rates in the nation for charter schools, which are publicly funded, privately operated schools.

RELATED: Renacci jumps into governor’s race with ‘Ohio First’ campaign

Of the least 22,790 students in kindergartent though 12th grade who live in the Dayton Public Schools geography about 13,315 attend DPS. The other 9,475 are split between charter schools (about 6,820), private schools via voucher (2,565) and a few special needs programs (less than 100), according to Ohio Department of Education data.

“Charter schools do not steal money, they do not steal students,” said Ron Adler, founder and president the Ohio Coalition for Quality Education , a statewide charter school leadership organization. “They are a school of choice. Parents are just making a decision that they would be better off in a charter school.”

Staff writer Jeremy Kelley contributed to this report.

Public Pensions: 5 things to know about teacher pension system

Published: Monday, April 24, 2017 @ 3:19 PM
Updated: Monday, April 24, 2017 @ 3:19 PM

The State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio took a big step toward shoring up its finances for the long-haul when it voted to indefinitely suspend the cost of living allowance given to retired teachers.

The move came after STRS was advised by actuaries and consultants that it should lower its expected annual rate of return and change other assumptions. As a result, unfunded liabilities grew, forcing the system to make cuts.

Related: Retired Ohio teachers to lose cost of living increase

Here are five key things to know about Ohio’s second largest public pension fund:

1. STRS of Ohio was founded in 1919 and covers 490,000 active and retired teachers.

2. The system has more than $76 billion invested and earned 7.8 percent last year.

3. STRS was among the four public pension systems that under went a massive overhaul in 2012 to shore up its finances.

4. Pension benefits are prescribed by state law, not union contracts, and the liabilities are covered by employee and employer contributions as well as investment income.

5. STRS isn’t the only system looking to cut costs. The School Employees Retirement System of Ohio is asking lawmakers for permission to cut the cost of living allowance given to retirees and use that money to shore up funding for retiree health care. And the Ohio Police & Fire Pension Fund is considering eliminating subsidized health care and giving retirees a monthly stipend instead.

Concealed handguns allowed in more places in Ohio

Published: Saturday, April 22, 2017 @ 4:18 PM
Updated: Saturday, April 22, 2017 @ 4:18 PM

Ohio’s expanded concealed carry weapons (CCW) law has been in place for a month, allowing people with CCW permits to bring their handguns into previously forbidden places, including child care centers, workplace parking lots and airport terminals.

RELATED: Guns at work: New law allows handguns on private property

Ohio legislators passed the bill in the December lame duck session and it was signed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich, taking effect March 21.

RELATED: 5 things to know about Ohio’s CCW law

The bill was controversial. Business leaders opposed the bill, arguing that it is a government mandate requiring them to let employees bring their guns onto company property even if the business has a no-guns policy.

RELATED: Business groups lament Ohio expanded gun laws

Gun safety advocates said it would make people less safe and criticized Ohio’s continued push to expand the places where guns are allowed. The state has been broadening the concealed carry law since it was first passed in 2004.

RELATED: do concealed-carry laws make us safer?

“I just don’t think the proliferation of guns everywhere is an answer,” said Ohio House Minority Leader Fred Strahorn, D-Dayton. “The straw that broke the camel’s back is the personal property issue.”

But proponents of expanded concealed carry rights said the new law gives people the ability to exercise their Second Amendment rights and to protect themselves with handguns in more places.

State Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg, said he supported the expanded gun rights bill because it “was a very pro-Second Amendment bill.”

“The vast majority of CCW holders are good citizens and law-abiding,” Antani said.

RELATED: CCW Expansion is latest effort to broaden gun laws in Ohio

All 50 states and the District of Columbia have some form of concealed-carry. About half allow people to bring their guns to the parking lot of their workplace.

RELATED: Hundreds killed by guns in workplace

Ohio’s law covers only people who have concealed carry permits for handguns. They may bring the gun to their workplace parking lot as long as it is kept locked in their vehicle. A company many not discipline them for doing so.

RELATED: 9 Workplace Shooting incidents in Ohio and the U.S.

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The law aso expands CCW rights in school zones and airport terminals. It gives government officials - such as county commissioners or city councils - and the trustees of colleges and universities the ability to vote to allow concealed carry on their premises.

RELATED: Residents respond to new law allowing guns on private property

Businesses were already permitted to allow guns on their property but the law expands that rule to child care centers, which had been prohibited from allowing people to bring in guns.

There are limitations for federal facilities, such as Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and post offices, which can continue to ban guns from their property.

RELATED: Wright-Patt employees can’t bring handguns to work

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Jon Husted takes steps toward run for Ohio governor

Published: Friday, April 21, 2017 @ 3:25 PM
Updated: Friday, April 21, 2017 @ 4:57 PM

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted will speak at Cedarville University later this month. Husted is contemplating a run for governor of Ohio.
Staff Writer

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s as-yet-unannounced bid for governor moved forward today with the announcement that his office’s press secretary would join the Husted for Ohio campaign.

Josh Eck said his last day in the office was today and he will become a spokesman for the campaign.

“I have been a fan of Jon Husted’s since before I worked for him. He’s been pretty clear that he’s looking at what the future holds for him and I want to be supportive of that future however I can,” Eck said.

“I think very highly of him and I think there are a lot of people in Ohio that think very highly of him.”

Husted formerly represented the Kettering area in the Ohio House of Representatives and Senate and also served as House Speaker.

He is one of several Republicans and Democrats who are expected to run in 2018.

“I think he will be making a decision here very shortly,” Eck said.

RELATED: Mike DeWine confirms run for Ohio governor in 2018 

This week political analyst Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball publication said Ohio leans Republican for 2018 and that the GOP has a “strong bench” with Husted, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor and U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Wadsworth, all possible contenders.

RELATED: DeWine, Husted each have $2.5 million on hand for 2018 run

Democrats who have said they are running or are interested include Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, former state representative Connie Pillich of Montgomery, state Sen. Joe Schiavoni, D-Boardman and former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton of Copely.

RELATED: 2018 Gov race: Ohio leaning Republican; Dayton mayor strong for Dems

“Sutton and Whaley are probably the most credible candidates in that group,” according to the Sabato report, published by the University of Virginia Center for Politics.

RELATED: Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley considering run for governor

There is speculation that Dennis Kucinich, a former congressman and ex-Cleveland mayor, would throw his hat into the Democratic primary as well. He is appearing in Columbus and in Washington Twp. on Monday. He will talk about the privatization of public education and is not expected to announce a bid for governor at that time, said Andrew Wilson, a spokesman for Public Education Partners, which is organizing the local visit.

U.S. Consumer Finance Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray, a former state attorney general and treasurer, is also seen as a potential contender in the Democratic primary.

RELATED: Ohio’s elections chief at odds with Trump over claims of voter fraud 

 RELATED: Ohio vote audit results came back clean 

RELATED: Ohio may change the way Congressional lines are drawn