Another battle royale brewing in Summit County, this time between Republican factions but Democrats also have their fingers in the pie. The County's Board of Elections today dumped former State Senator Kevin Coughlin's petitions for Stow Municipal Court Clerk, because he was running non-partisan. The Board is allowing incumbent Judge Kim Hoover to run as non-partisan, saying there's a difference between judge and clerk positions. Coughlin's promising a court fight.
In a statement, Coughlin said "...both local political parties banded together to deny my legal right to run for Clerk of Courts. They may be afraid to face me on Election Day, but they cannot deny my basic rights. In voting to reject my petitions to run, the members of the Summit County Board of Elections abused their power and disregarded the law."
"This issue is far from over. I will immediately seek a court order forcing the Board of Elections to certify my petitions," Coughlin said. "In addition, those who abused their power and ignored the law will be held to account. My campaign for Clerk of Courts will continue on without interruption while this matter is resolved."
Five local candidates have been disqualified from the September primary election ballot in Akron.
Ward 5 candidate Natural Hunka Kaboom was ruled off the ballot as a candidate in Ward 5 because of an insufficient number of signatures.
Other candidates disqualified for the same reason were Mike Adams, another Ward 5 democratic candidate, Michael Rogers in Ward 6, Keith John Elrod in Ward 9 and, Michelle Baker, a candidate for council-at large in Cuyahoga Falls by the Summit County Elections Board at its meeting Monday.
Robert DeVitis, a Republican candidate for Ward 2 in Akron , withdrew before the board meeting.
The disqualifications will mean that some candidates who had primary opposition now have none. Councilman Jim Hurley will be unopposed in Ward 2 and two Republican incumbents, Jeff Iula and Carol Ann Klinger, will not be challenged for their at-large seats in Cuyahoga Falls.
The Supreme Court has struck down an Arizona law requiring voters to show proof of citizenship when registering to vote.
Ohio does not have such a law, but voters in Ohio have to affirm that they are U.S. citizens when registering.
Summit County elections director Joe Masich says that means those who answer "yes" fraudulently could be charged under the Ohio Revised Code.
"On the voter registration form," Masich tells AkronNewsNow.com, "you sign a statement at the end, where you sign your signature on your the registration form, that you declare under penalty of falsification that I am a citizen of the United States."
Masich says local elections officials, if they discover or are notified of possible fraud, would bring it to the attention of prosecutors.
A number of Summit County voters had something to vote on today, and the votes are now all in in Summit and Portage Counties.
The May 7 ballot featured a number of school issues, including levy requests in the Barberton, Coventry, Cuyahoga Falls, Manchester, and Mogadore districts.
Winners include Barberton, which passed a 8.45 mill additional emergency levy that superintendent Patty Cleary says will forestall possible cuts in elementary art and music programs, end the possible doubling of pay to participate fees, and which will restore busing to a 1-mile radius in the district starting next school year. Buses in the Barberton district were picking up students 2-miles from school under state minimum guidelines.
Efforts to get an issue passed in Coventry finally bore fruit; an additional six-mill levy will help consolidate schools and go toward building a new high school. The measure passed by a comfortable 11 percentage point margin.
Voters in the Manchester district passed a 9.8 mill renewal levy.
Cuyahoga Falls voters rejected a 3 mill additional levy that school superintendent Dr. Todd Nichols tells AkronNewsNow would have increased safety, security and technology in the district and updated school buses. Dr. Nichols says he's "disappointed" with the final, unofficial returns, which have voters rejecting the levy by a 57 to 43 percent margin.
The final, unofficial returns showed Mogadore's levy going down to defeat, with voters in both Summit and Portage Counties rejecting the 5.9 mill additional levy by a vote of 350 to 252.
In Portage County, returns show Kent City Schools' additional levy winning with about 61% of the vote.
The final, unofficial results from the Summit County Board of Elections and the Portage County Board of Elections are shown below.
SUMMARY REPORT 2013 Special Election Final Unofficial Run Date:05/07/13 Summit County RUN TIME:09:27 PM May 7, 2013 VOTES PERCENT PRECINCTS COUNTED (OF 67) . . . . . 67 100.00 REGISTERED VOTERS - TOTAL . . . . . 72,965 BALLOTS CAST - TOTAL. . . . . . . 14,228 VOTER TURNOUT - TOTAL . . . . . . 19.50 Issue 1 - City of Macedonia Proposed Tax Levy - (Renewal) 1 mil, Fire, 5 years (Vote for Not More Than ) 1 (WITH 6 OF 6 PRECINCTS COUNTED) FOR THE TAX LEVY . . . . . . . . 412 79.54 AGAINST THE TAX LEVY. . . . . . . 106 20.46 Issue 2 - Village of Reminderville Proposed Tax Levy - (Replace) 3 mil, Road, 5 years (Vote for Not More Than ) 1 (WITH 2 OF 2 PRECINCTS COUNTED) FOR THE TAX LEVY . . . . . . . . 36 57.14 AGAINST THE TAX LEVY. . . . . . . 27 42.86 Issue 3 - Barberton CSD Proposed Tax Levy - (Add) - 8.45 mil, Emergency, 5 yrs (Vote for Not More Than ) 1 (WITH 15 OF 15 PRECINCTS COUNTED) FOR THE TAX LEVY . . . . . . . . 2,378 54.63 AGAINST THE TAX LEVY. . . . . . . 1,975 45.37 Issue 4 - Cuyahoga Falls CSD Proposed Tax Levy - (Add) - Improvements, 3 mil, 5 years (Vote for Not More Than ) 1 (WITH 26 OF 26 PRECINCTS COUNTED) AGAINST THE TAX LEVY. . . . . . . 2,091 57.22 FOR THE TAX LEVY . . . . . . . . 1,563 42.78 Issue 5 - Coventry LSD Bond/Tax Issue - (Add) - 6 mil total, Const, 34 years (Vote for Not More Than ) 1 (WITH 15 OF 15 PRECINCTS COUNTED) FOR THE BOND ISSUE AND LEVY . . . . 2,184 55.22 AGAINST THE BOND ISSUE AND LEVY . . . 1,771 44.78 Issue 6 - Manchester LSD Proposed Tax Levy - (Renewal) - 9.8 mil, Cur. Exp., Cont (Vote for Not More Than ) 1 (WITH 6 OF 6 PRECINCTS COUNTED) FOR THE TAX LEVY . . . . . . . . 711 72.04 AGAINST THE TAX LEVY. . . . . . . 276 27.96 Issue 7 - Mogadore LSD Proposed Tax Levy - (Add) - 5.9 mil, Cur. Exp., Cont. (Vote for Not More Than ) 1 (WITH 2 OF 2 PRECINCTS COUNTED) AGAINST THE TAX LEVY. . . . . . . 337 57.41 FOR THE TAX LEVY . . . . . . . . 250 42.59 Issue 8 - Canal Fulton Library Proposed Tax Levy - (Add) - 1 mil, Cur. Exp., Continuing (Vote for Not More Than ) 1 (WITH 5 OF 5 PRECINCTS COUNTED) AGAINST THE TAX LEVY. . . . . . . 69 63.30 FOR THE TAX LEVY . . . . . . . . 40 36.70 ----
Election Summary Report
|Registered Voters 102190 - Cards Cast 9066 8.87%||Num. Report Precinct 123 - Num. Reporting 123 100.00%|
|Issue 9 - Mogadore Local SD (Additional)|
|Number of Precincts||2|
|FOR THE TAX LEVY||117||36.79%|
|AGAINST THE TAX LEVY||201 63.21%|
The Summit County Board of Elections wants answers about the still-open campaign fund of the late Summit County Common Pleas Court Judge Brenda Burnham Unruh, who died in 2011.
As long as a campaign committee exists, state law mandates that campaign finance reports be filed, regardless of activity between election cycles and regardless of whether the candidate or office holder is still alive.
"The treasurer - not the candidate, not the committee - the treasurer is the one legally responsible for all documents filed with the board of elections," said Elections Director Joe Masich.
A hearing held today produced no answers. In fact, it may have become more complicated when Keep Judge Brenda Burnham Unruh Committee Treasurer Scott Gale told the board that he was never given signature rights on the committee's bank account. That's a problem because the board needs the bank records to conduct an audit on the account before it can be terminated. According to Gale, Uhruh's widower is unaware of any bank statements or other documents. Gale can't access them. Nobody seems to know where to find the former treasurer (who could possibly access the account).
"They never perfected the bank documents to have him (Gale) any signatory control at the bank," said Masich. "Apparently, just the judge and maybe her previous treasurer were signatories on the account."
Unruh asked Gale to be the treasurer in 2008, the last year she ran for office. According to the board of elections website, Gale filed forms in 2011 and in 2012, about nine month's after Unruh's death. At that time, there was $998 left in the campaign account. Gale told the board today that exorbitant inactivity fees have probably reduced that amount significantly; however, his figures show that the balance actually increased about $200 from 2010 to 2011 even though there is no indication of contributions.
The board, notorious for tie votes that must be settled by the secretary of state, offered another decision to Jon Husted today. The board is divided over whether they should subpoena the account records from US Bank.
The tie vote over where early voting takes place in Summit County is resolved.
At least, until the next Summit County Board of Elections meeting takes place.
Democrats and Republicans on the Board of Elections couldn't agree on a site; locations included the former H.H. Gregg store in Chapel Hill, the Beacon Journal building or the Board's offices on Grant Street.
Secretary of State Jon Husted made the decision; early voting will be held at the Elections offices on Grant Street, and told the Board to work with neighboring businesses to secure more parking.
In other decisions, Husted broke tie votes and ordered public comments to be permitted at Board of Election meetings; they'll have to figure out the rules.
Husted also voted to forward concerns over Akron City Council's use of government-paid for newsletters to the State Auditor. Republicans objected to the city-funded communications being used to advocate for ballot issues but state law treats government agencies operating under their own charter, such as the City of Akron, differently than other government bodies. Husted decided the legality is a question better answered by the Auditor's office.
Husted's decisions are in .pdf form at the bottom of this page.
Summit County Council is expected to vote Monday on a $1.4-million appropriation for the Summit County Board of Elections. If approved, it would hike the board's budget to $6.1 million, much closer to what Director Joe Masich says they need.
"I would feel more comfortable with my request of $6.48 million and a $300,000 contingency," said Masich. "We're going to do what we can do and we're going to monitor it very closely."
The board spent $7.1 million in 2008, the last presidential election year. Since then, Summit County Council has been forced to slash budgets across the board. The elections board originally asked for $9.3 million for 2012. That request was met with a counter offer of $4.7 million. The two sides have been haggling over money ever since. What changed?
"We've provided them with some pretty good detail as to why we need the additional funds as far as man hours and postage costs and things, we've provided them with great detail," said Masich.
Masich says a big election turnout means they need plenty of people on the clock a few weeks in advance, plus other expenses. Secretary of State Jon Husted is telling county boards of elections to plan on half of the number of people who participated in the 2008 election to vote by mail in the upcoming election. In Summit County, that means 140,000 people would be requesting ballots and returning them through the mail. Elections officials say that takes human eyes to process each request by verifying voter registration and making sure all paperwork is correctly completed.
Update 2:00 p.m.
The Summit County Board of Elections tie-voted on three motions related to early in-person voting. The board voted along party lines as follows:
The tie votes mean that Secretary of State Jon Husted will decide where voters can cast ballots in person, but prior to the general election on November 6.
Republicans are using budget concerns to back their philosophy, saying that the county isn't willing to offer the funding that they say is necessary to fund the board's operations, even without leasing space for voters. They refer to a letter from Summit County Executive Russ Pry offering $50,000 to pay for the added expense. Republican board members call the offer "offensive," stating that Pry is trying to use county funds to micro manage the board of elections.
Democrats say the Republican plan does nothing but disenfranchise voters by making it difficult to participate in in-person absentee voting. Parking is a concern at the board of elections offices on Grant Street. The lobby area is not spacious, either. History is on their side, looking back to the primary election in 2008 when people, at times, were lined up around the building in poor weather conditions waiting for their turn to vote. Board Chairman Tim Gorbach said during the meeting that holding early voting inside the Beacon Journal building in downtown Akron would be even worse than doing it on Grant Street.
Listen to Gorbach and Board Member Alex Arshinkoff briefly explain:
Some of the estimated 150 people spoke out during a designated time, but not before more verbal sparring on the board. Arshinkoff accused Gorbach of setting up the whole thing with "his" people, when Gorbach suggested that the various factions allow a spokesperson to offer testimony. Arshinkoff said that if one person could speak, then everyone should be given the chance.
"You can vote in person at your neighborhood poll on election day for 13 hours, absentee ballot (in the mail) or at the board of elections," said one woman. "Common sense is all we need. Off site voting is stupid and a waste of money and frivolous."
Numerous people were allowed about a minute to speak (there was some argument over who was keeping the official time). Judging by the signs that were being held, it would seem the room was divided about evenly, although the number of speakers who approached the podium seemed to favor the Democrats. The following is a random sample:
"While I understand it's important to save money, I think that spending money in order to enable people who are eligible and want to vote is anything but wasteful," said a Bath Township woman.
The board has two weeks to submit the tie votes (with arguments from each side attached) to Husted for his consideration.
A large crowd gathered at the Summit County Board of Elections meeting this morning where board members are expected to vote on a possible early voting location.
AkronNewsNow's Chris Keppler said many in the room were holding signs urging a vote either in favor and against an off-site location for early voting.
Some of the signs at the meeting said "save our taxpayer dollars" and "stop the BOE wasteful spending."
Keppler said the crowd interrupted the opening of the meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance, shouting out the words "for all" at the end.
Board Chairman Tim Gorbach insisted on doing the pledge "right" and led the crowd in a second pledge.
It appears both sides of the issue are represented at the meeting.
Akron City Council said the need for a off-site voting location is necessary due to the fact that board's offices on Grant Street would present problems with parking and lines.
Akron City Council is asking the Summit County Board of Elections to establish an early voting location in time for the November election.
Council President Marco Sommerville says that by having a site in place, the voting process would operate more smoothly.
"We want to make sure that when the day of voting comes, that people aren't waiting in long lines to vote,"he said.
"If they were to go to outside voting, it would be better for the general public."
Council passed an ordinance Monday night urging the Board of Elections to establish an early voting location in Akron.
The Summit County Board of Elections expects up to 25,000 voters to cast absentee ballots in-person for the November election.
At-large Councilman Jeff Fusco says a offsite voting facility is necessary when voter turnout is high.
"It's a presidential year, and typically the amount of people participating is increased."
In 2008, over 40,000 people voted early on E.Tallmadge Ave, which was located on the site of the Job Center and other county offices.
President Sommerville is confident that the Board will decide in the Council's favor to establish a new early voting location during their monthly meeting Tuesday morning. It is unclear if the Board will approve a new location or direct people to their offices when election time comes around.
"We're confident they'll do the right thing," Sommerville explained.
The Board of Elections will meet at 9.a.m. at their Grant Street office.
Council also passed an ordinance congratulating Miami Heat forward and Akron native LeBron James on winning his first NBA Championship.
The yearly budget for the Summit County Board of Elections will be less than half the budget the elections board had asked for in this presidential election year.
As expected, Summit County Council went ahead with its finance committee's recommendation of a $4.7 million full-year spending plan for the elections board. Council had earlier approved a partial-year spending plan of $1.5 million dollars over the first three months of 2012.
The board will pursue some cost cutting - including some staff reductions and a plan that'll cut the number of Summit County's voting precincts nearly in half. Each plan would cut a few hundred thousand dollars.
The precinct reduction plan drew the ire of some council members.
"It's four percent of the difference in the budget being done during a presidential election cycle," fifth ward council member Tamela Lee tells AkronNewsNow.com. "It's going to cost money to implement the change. $200,000 for the negative impact that it's going to have on the community and the voters in our community? No, it's not about the budget, it's not going to save money."
Lee told council members that the precinct reduction plan was "voter suppression under the guise of budget."
Lee and other council members say the elections board has to come to them with "real" cost cutting ideas.
Though some in-year budget adjustments will likely occur, none of them would bring the Board of Elections' yearly spending in 2012 anywhere close to the $9.3 million figure originally sought by the board.