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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.

Governor race: Pillich wins endorsement of former Penn. Gov. Rendell

Published: Tuesday, December 12, 2017 @ 6:08 PM
Updated: Tuesday, December 12, 2017 @ 6:08 PM


            Connie Pillich
Connie Pillich

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Connie Pillich is getting the backing of former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, and the two plan on hitting the campaign trail.

Who’s in? A look at who is running for governor

Rendell could be an important asset to Pillich as she seeks to distinguish herself from the crowded Democratic field. Six Democrats are vying for the chance to succeed Republican Gov. John Kasich, who’s term-limited.

Democrats running include Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, former consumer watchdog Richard Cordray, state Sen. Joe Schiavoni, former Congresswoman Betty Sutton and Supreme Court Justice William O’Neill.

Rendell has been mayor of Philadelphia and chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

He says in a statement that Pillich’s background as a former Air Force captain, public defender and state representative make will her “a darn good governor” and he will “stump like hell to get her elected.”

Kasich urges Congress to OK extension of child health program

Published: Tuesday, December 12, 2017 @ 3:59 PM
Updated: Tuesday, December 12, 2017 @ 4:09 PM


            Ohio Gov. John Kasich. AP
Ohio Gov. John Kasich. AP

With time running out, Ohio Gov. John Kasich urged Congress to approve “as quickly as possible” an extension of a health program that provides coverage to nearly 220,000 children in Ohio.

In a letter to Senate and House Republican and Democratic leaders Tuesday, Kasich and Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado warned that failure to extend the program will jeopardize “access to essential health services like well child exams, asthma medicine, and hospitalizations.”

“Resources are nearly exhausted and some states already have begun to inform families that their children’s coverage may end on January 31,” the two governors wrote in the letter which was signed by 10 other governors.

The program, known as the Children’s Health Insurance Program and often called CHIP, was first established in 1997 with a bipartisan agreement between President Bill Clinton and Republican lawmakers in Congress, including Kasich who then was a congressman from Ohio.

RELATED: Kasich to Dreamers: Come to Ohio

Because the program expires at the end of the year, Congress needs to approve a five-year extension that is expected to cost $9 billion. If Congress fails to act, Ohio could continue the program but receive far fewer federal dollars to finance it.

The House last month approved a five-year extension, but to finance the cost of the measure House Republicans demanded a $10.5 cut from a federal program that helps finance improvements in the public health system. The program was created in 2010 through the health law known as Obamacare.

With the backing of Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown and Republican Sen. Rob Portman, the Senate Finance Committee earlier this fall approved its $9 billion version that would guarantee that children keep their coverage through 2019. But the Senate bill does not cut other programs to pay for it.

RELATED: Kasich breaks with Trump on media criticism

Congressional Republicans have suggested that they will finance the program when they pass a government spending bill this month.

GOP governor candidate Jim Renacci picks Cincinnati councilwoman as his running mate

Published: Monday, December 11, 2017 @ 6:48 PM
Updated: Monday, December 11, 2017 @ 6:36 PM

Republican congressman Jim Renacci introduces Cincinnati councilwoman Amy Murray as his running mate for the 2018 Ohio governor primary, Monday, Dec. 11, 2017, in Cincinnati.  (AP Photo/Dan Sewell)
Dan Sewell/AP
Republican congressman Jim Renacci introduces Cincinnati councilwoman Amy Murray as his running mate for the 2018 Ohio governor primary, Monday, Dec. 11, 2017, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Dan Sewell)(Dan Sewell/AP)

Republican candidate for governor U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci announced Monday that Cincinnati Councilwoman Amy Murray will be his running mate in the 2018 GOP primary.

“I think the real key is ‘back to business, not business as usual,’” said Renacci in announcing Murray as part of his team.

He made the announcement at a news conference in Cincinnati, and held a second event later in the day in Cleveland.

“People always say they want a choice and, guess what, we are offering a choice this year,” Murray said.

Murray was elected to city council in 2013. She founded Japan Consulting Group after a 15-year career at Procter & Gamble, according to information provided by the campaign.

Murray said she offers geographic diversity to the ticket and said women talk about the opioid crisis differently then men. She said she admires Renacci for “his ethics, his character and his leadership.”

RELATED: DeWine-Husted ticket called governor’s race ‘dream team’ by GOP state senator

“He’s just like us. He started a job, worked his way up and became successful,” Murray said.

Renacci called Murray a “conservative, pro-life, pro-second amendment businesswoman.”

“She is not a politician and has created jobs for someone other than herself,” Renacci said.

Renacci said he wants “Ohio to be first. Not in opioid addiction or college debt” but as a place people can get a job and want to live.

Renacci, who touted his support of President Donald Trump, called himself an “outsider” in the race.

“When you start out poor, as I did, you are always the underdog,” Renacci said.

Renacci was born near Pittsburgh. His father was a railroad worker and his mother a nurse.

Renacci, a businessman and former Wadsworth mayor who has been in Congress since 2011, is now one of the 15 richest congressman in the country, according to his 2016 financial disclosure forms. Renacci, who has owned about 60 companies lists his assets as ranging from $34 million to $94 million.

RELATED: Most come to Congress rich, and then get richer, analysis shows

The other candidates on the Republican side include Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and his running mate, Secretary of State Jon Husted, who dropped his own bid for governor and teamed up with DeWine.

“We welcome Councilwoman Murray to the race and look forward to engaging her and Congressman Renacci on the issues in an honest and professional manner,” said Ryan Stubenrauch, spokesman for the DeWine/Husted campaign.

Taylor’s spokesman did not comment by press time.

David Pepper, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, said Renacci and the other GOP candidates are staking out extremist positions in the primary that will hurt them in the General Election.

“Today’s announcement is only further evidence that Mike DeWine and Jon Husted teaming up did nothing to stop the nasty, divisive primary on the GOP side,” said Pepper “Keep in mind — for the past six months, the entire Republican field has been running far to the right, trying to be the ‘Trumpiest’ candidate, while running away from their fellow Republican, Gov. John Kasich.”

The Democrats running for governor are Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley; state Sen. Joe Schiavoni, D-Youngstown; former Congresswoman Betty Sutton; former Cincinnati area state Rep. Connie Pillich, former Attorney General and Treasurer Richard Cordray and Supreme Court Justice Bill O’Neill.

The primary is May 8 and the General Election is Nov. 6.

Other stories by Lynn Hulsey

Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer to run for Ohio House

Oops: One year later, Kettering library’s driveway rebuilt

Ohio voters may decide on plan to legalize recreational marijuana in 2018

Published: Sunday, December 10, 2017 @ 7:57 PM
Updated: Monday, December 11, 2017 @ 6:35 PM

What to know about the legalization of medical marijuana in Ohio

Ohio voters could decide in 2018 to legalize marijuana for recreational use if supporters of a constitutional amendment are able to get the issue on the November ballot.

Cincinnati businessman Jimmy Gould and his business partner Ian James of Coumbus, the driving force behind the 2015 marijuana legalization issue that voters rejected by nearly a 2-to-1 margin, are behind a very different plan for 2018.

TAKE OUR POLL:Should Ohio legalize marijuana?

Gould and James are crafting ballot language for a constitutional amendment that would create a free market system for adult consumption of marijuana.

Highlights of the plan:

* Ohioans age 21 and older would be allowed to grow and use marijuana in private;

* commercial growers and sellers would be regulated similar to businesses that produce and sell alcohol;

* using marijuana in public would be prohibited;

* employers would retain the right to have drug free workplace policies and landlords would be allowed to prohibit its production and use on their property;

* operating a vehicle under the influence of marijuana would be prohibited;

* local governments would control how many marijuana businesses operate in their community and voter approval would be required for dispensaries in their precincts.

To get on the November ballot, Gould and James need approval of their ballot issue from the attorney general and Ohio Ballot Board and then they’d have to collect 305,592 valid voter signatures by the July 4 deadline.

“Here is what I can assure you: this will be on the ballot. We will get the signatures and we will spend whatever is necessary to spend to get it on the ballot,” Gould said. “We will get the 305,000 signatures, no matter what it costs.

He noted that he and James are the only ones in Ohio to put a marijuana legalization question to the voters.

The two men failed to convince voters in 2015 that their “ResponsibleOhio” plan to grant 10 growing licenses to the investors bankrolling the multi-million dollar campaign was a good idea. But the issue did convince lawmakers that they’d rather adopt a highly regulated medical marijuana program — and write the rules — rather than risk it going to the ballot again.

Criticism of medical marijuana program

On Monday, Gould delivered a broadside of the Kasich administration over the state’s new medical marijuana program.

Gould and James less than two weeks ago learned their company had been passed over by the Ohio Department of Commerce for one of 12 coveted large-scale cultivator licenses for medical marijuana.

“If we lost in a fair and balanced process then we would accept that. That’s not what happened,” Gould said during an hour-long press conference in downtown Columbus.

Related: Springfield, Yellow Springs to get large scale marijuana operations

In June 2016, Gov. John Kasich signed a bill into law that authorizes marijuana use by patients with 21 conditions, including cancer or chronic pain, in the form of edibles, oils, patches and vaporizing. Patients and their caregivers will be allowed to possess up to a 90-day supply. Smoking or home growing it is barred.

Gould denies that the ballot proposal they are pushing for 2018 is sour grapes for not getting a medical marijuana license.

Still, Gould said that parallel to the ballot issue effort will be a full-scale legal challenge to the commerce department program. He called on Commerce Department Director Jacqueline Williams to step down and he pinned problems with the medical marijuana program on Kasich, who Gould described as an absentee governor.

“This thing has gotten to the point of the obnoxious, disgusting way governments get out of control when there is nobody at home watching the farm. No one,” he said.

Commerce Department spokeswoman Kerry Francis said she isn’t aware of any plans for Williams to resign.

Commerce officials have said they were unaware that Trevor Bozeman, whose company was hired to help score the applications, had been convicted of drug dealing in 2005. Bozeman could not be reached for comment. Applicants were required to undergo extensive background checks — a standard that Gould said should have also been applied to those scoring the proposals.

The 97 applicants who did not win one of the dozen licenses will be notified this week of the appeals process.

Related: Ohio announces first set of marijuana grower licenses

The Medical Marijuana Control Program is managed by the commerce department, pharmacy board and state medical board.

Regulators have been busy writing rules and guidelines for growers, processors, testing labs, dispensaries, patients and caregivers as well as reviewing and scoring applications for licenses. It is expected to be fully operational by September 2018.

Marijuana remains an illegal drug under federal law.

Related: Marijuana campaign admits mistakes