A Summit County Board of Elections employee won't face board action after posts made to Facebook during her work hours.

The Beacon Journal reports the board declined to act against Cecilia Robart, the wife of former Cuyahoga Falls mayor Don Robart, at a meeting on Tuesday.

Board chairman Tim Gorbach tells the newspaper that Robart says she "didn't knowingly post" during work hours, and that they were told that other family members have access to her account.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted must still break a tie vote on policies that would forbid board employees from using electronic devices on its property.

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On the Web: Akron Beacon Journal, www.ohio.com

Published in Local

Issues set for the Summit County ballot in November include a number of school levies, and that proposed Summit County quarter-percent countywide increase.

That county ballot issue was recently changed by Summit County Council. It no longer calls for funding an arena to be used by the University of Akron's sports teams.

It also calls for a 10 year term, instead of the permanent increase previously proposed.

Just a day after a proposed Mogadore school levy failed in a special election, the district will ask for another try at voter approval in November.

Renewal levies include for Coventry, Cuyahoga Falls, and Springfield local schools. Springfield is asking for three renewals. Northwest Local Schools are asking for a renewal of their income tax levy.

The issues were released by the Summit County Board of Elections based on today's 90 day filing deadline. The 60 day filing deadline is September 5th.

The general election is November 4th.

Published in Local
Wednesday, 06 November 2013 12:36

Not All Ballots Counted Yet

Election day is over, but there are still ballots to be counted and some of them could make a big difference. 

A school levy in the Manchester district tentatively passed by one vote.  Also, the race between Katarina Cook and Jon Oldham for Akron Municipal Court Judge is separated by only 16 votes.

Some ballots, however, have not counted yet.  In fact, some of them may not have even arrived yet at the Summit County Board of Elections offices.  Director Joe Masich says there are at least 20 provisional ballots that require some investigation before they can be counted, plus absentee ballots are still trickling in.

"I believe I saw a stack of 60 or 70 absentee ballots come in the mail today," said Masich. 

Masich says he doesn't know if any of those ballots are from people who had a vote on either of the close levies or the tight judicial race.

Absentee ballots can still be accepted if they arrive within 10 days after the election and if they were postmarked no later than November 4th.  Masich says the board will make a decision on the provisional ballots and any questionable absentee ballots at a meeting on November 18th, then add those votes into the current count.  Any race or issue that is within 1/2% of the total will automatically be recounted.

Published in Local
Friday, 18 October 2013 14:46

SUPCO Rules Davis Back On Akron Ballot

The decisions by the Summit County Board of Elections regarding independents running for public office are taking a beating from Ohio's Supreme Court.

On top of a decision ordering former Republican State Senator Kevin Coughlin back on the ballot for Stow Muni Clerk of Courts, the county board has also been ordered to return Darrita Davis to the November 5th ballot in her ward council bid.

On a 4-3 decision the state's highest court ruled basing the decision to disqualify Davis because she voted Democrat in the last Presidential Election Primary wasn't enough to overrule her candidacy as an independent.

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(Supreme Court of Ohio) In an expedited election case announced today, the Supreme Court of Ohio ordered the Summit County Board of Elections to include Darrita Davis on the November 5 ballot as an independent candidate for Akron City Council.

The court, in a 4-3 decision, granted Davis’s writ, finding that the board of elections abused its discretion when it disqualified her petition to run as an independent.

The elections board argued that Davis is not an independent because she failed to disaffiliate sufficiently from the Democratic Party. The court today said that the board based its conclusion on only one piece of information – her vote in the Democratic primary for president in March 2012.

“A candidate’s prior voting history, standing alone, cannot be a sufficient basis for disqualifying an independent candidate,” the court wrote. “Disaffiliation by definition presumes a history of support for or membership in a political party. If a candidate’s prior voting record, standing alone, could trump a declaration of disaffiliation, then disaffiliation would never be possible.”

The court also said the board erroneously applied a two-year statutory look-back provision for petition signatures to the separate analysis of disaffiliation under R.C. 3513.257: “The practical effect of the board’s rule is the creation of a de facto ‘sit out’ requirement, whereby candidates who disaffiliate from a political party have to wait at least two years before they may seek office as independents. Nothing in R.C. 3513.257 requires such a result.”

The court found that two donations Davis made to Democratic candidates at different events held little weight, primarily because the donations were made before she declared her candidacy for city council in July 2013. While evidence undermining disaffiliation after a candidate files is not required for a successful challenge to a candidate’s petition, “where the challenge is based solely on prepetition evidence, the evidence needs to be that much more substantial to warrant excluding an otherwise qualified candidate,” the court stated.

“In addition, the board abused its discretion because it fundamentally misconstrued the relevant inquiry,” the court found. “Based on her past voting record, the board informs the court, ‘the Board determined that Relator did not make a good faith attempt to disaffiliate from the Democratic Party.’ But the requirement … is that a candidate must declare her lack of affiliation in good faith, not that she take affirmative action to disaffiliate in order to prove her good faith. In other words, the declaration of disaffiliation can, in some circumstances, be sufficient affirmative action.”

The per curiam (not authored by a specific justice) opinion was joined by Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and Justices Paul E. Pfeifer, Sharon L. Kennedy, and William M. O’Neill. Justice Terrence O’Donnell dissented in a written opinion. Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger also dissented, but wrote separately. Justice Judith L. French dissented without opinion.

In his dissent, Justice O’Donnell wrote: “In view of Davis’s voting history and her financial contributions to Democratic candidates in April 2013 and June 2013, the board did not abuse its discretion in concluding that Davis had not in good faith disaffiliated herself from the Democratic Party when she filed her nominating petition to run as an independent candidate.”

In her separate dissent, Justice Lanzinger wrote: “The county boards of elections are given little guidance when asked to determine whether an independent candidate has made a good-faith declaration of disaffiliation. … Because I believe that the Summit County Board of Elections did not act unreasonably under the circumstances, I would deny the writ.”

Published in Local

Five Summit County independent candidates won't be on the November ballot.

The Beacon Journal reports the candidates, running for council seats in Barberton, Akron and Cuyahoga Falls, and for the Falls mayor's race, were rejected by the Summit County Board of Elections for not having enough signatures.

The paper says one candidate running for the Falls mayor's job, Stephen Dabney, will ask for reconsideration at a meeting on Wednesday.

Non-partisan candidates for two Akron Municipal Court races were certified by the Summit elections board.

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On the Web: Akron Beacon Journal, www.ohio.com

Published in Local
Monday, 09 September 2013 13:40

Coughlin Wins Ballot Battle

Ohio's Supreme Court administered a unanimous comeuppance to Summit County's Board of Elections and ordered to put former State Senator Kevin Coughlin on the November ballot for Stow Municipal Court Clerk.

Coughlin took the Board to court after it rejected his candidacy on the grounds prior races as a Republican made him ineligible for a non-partisan position. The Court ruled there's no regulation barring those with a partisan history from running for a non-partisan job.

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(Kevin Coughlin) In a unanimous decision, the Ohio Supreme Court today issued an order to compel the Summit County Board of Elections to place former State Senator Kevin Coughlin on the November ballot as a candidate for Stow Municipal Clerk of Courts.

On July 15, the Summit County Board of Elections rejected Coughlin's nominating petitions to run for the office based on its position that Coughlin's history as a Republican disqualifies him from running as a non-partisan. Ohio law, however, authorizes non-partisan candidacies for municipal judges and clerks of court. Candidates who seek to be nominated as non-partisans are not required to be unaffiliated with a political party.

The Court's decision overturns the Board's action. Coughlin issued the following statement:

"I'm grateful to the Ohio Supreme Court for upholding my right to run.

"The party bosses in Summit County disregarded the law and tried to silence me because I am running to modernize our court. That means ending their influence in the clerk's office. Now nothing can stop the voters from having a chance to elect someone who will run this nonpartisan judicial office as a professional.

"If it was the intention of the bosses to slow my campaign down, they failed. We have been campaigning hard all throughout the court district and I'm encouraged by the support we have received including the endorsements of several Republican and Democratic community leaders.

"The judges of the Stow Municipal Court have been doing an excellent job. I'm looking forward to working with them to fix our broken clerk's office and better serve our communities."

Published in Local

A former Ohio Secretary of State will help the Summit County Board of Elections sort out a lawsuit over ballot access.

The board voted Thursday to hire ex-Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner as an elections expert.

Former state senator Kevin Coughlin has sued the Summit elections board, over a decision that denied him access as a non-partisan candidate in the Stow Municipal Court clerk's rate.

The move to hire Brunner comes despite her past decision not to reappoint Summit County Republican chairman Alex Arshinkoff to the elections board.

Arshinkoff was returned to the board by Republican Jon Husted, the current secretary of state.

Published in Local
Thursday, 08 August 2013 16:08

Coughlin Goes To SUPCO For Relief

The fight over former State Senator Kevin Coughlin's bid to run as a non-partisan candidate for Clerk of Stow Municipal Court is heading for a showdown -- but not in Stow, and not in Akron.

Coughlin is appealing the decision by Summit County's Board of Elections to remove him from the ballot in disputes over his status as non-partisan and squabbling over campaign report filings with the Ohio Supreme Court.

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Former State Senator Kevin Coughlin today petitioned the Ohio Supreme Court to compel the Summit County Board of Elections to certify his nominating petitions as a candidate for Stow Municipal Clerk of Courts in the November general election.
 
On July 15,  the Summit County Board of Elections rejected Coughlin's nominating petitions to run for the office based on its position that Coughlin's history as a Republican disqualifies him from running as a non-partisan.  Ohio law, however, authorizes non-partisan candidacies for municipal judges and clerks of court.  Candidates who seek to be nominated as non-partisans are not required to be unaffiliated with a political party.
 
Coughlin issued the following statement:
 
"Ohio law gives clear instructions regarding the nomination of municipal clerks of court. The Board of Elections blatantly disregarded the law and abused its power to reject my candidacy.  To make matters worse, they certified the petitions of another non-partisan candidate whose nomination is governed by the same law.  I feel very strongly that the members of the Board are using their positions to target and harass me.
 
"The party bosses in Summit County will stop at nothing to keep the courthouse from becoming a political-free zone.  I am running to modernize and professionalize our judiciary. They may not like that I'm running, but they cannot deny my legal right to run. 
 
"But this issue is bigger than me.  It sets a dangerous precedent in our state.  Board of Elections are designed to allow the two parties to watch each other.  We are now seeing what happens when the two parties conspire together.  If a Board can pick and choose which candidates may run for office regardless of the law, what is to stop them from rigging an election?  The Summit County Board of Elections has set our system of free and fair elections on a very slippery slope and every voter in Ohio should be concerned.
 
"The Board's rejection of my candidacy was outrageous.  Luckily we live in a country with the rule of law and I have faith that my petitions will be certified."
 
The full text of Coughlin's filing can be found as soon as it is available on the Ohio Supreme Court's website. The case number is 13-1264.
 
On the web: Ohio Supreme Court http://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov
Published in Local
Monday, 05 August 2013 15:41

Summit Voting Precincts Set For Primary

More precincts mean you could have a new voting location if you're a Summit County voter.

The Summit County Board of Elections approved 240 precincts at 111 voting locations for the September 10th primary, at its meeting Monday.

Board of Elections director Joe Masich says that they'll be sending out those orange postcards soon.

"By August 15th, I believe, we'll be mailing out the famous orange postcards," Masich tells AkronNewsNow.com, "that tell the folks what their ward and precinct is, and what their polling location and address of their polling location will be...for the primary election and elections to come until they have to be changed again for whatever reason."

Masich says the polling place information will also be up on the Board of Elections website later this week.

Those in Summit County not voting until November will learn their voting locations in the next few weeks.

"And we'll get those cards in the mail by late September for the November election," Masich says, "so everybody in the county will know their proper ward, precinct and polling location in time to vote."

There'll be a total of 420 precincts in Summit County, the number increased to reduce long lines that were seen last November.

September's primaries will affect the cities of Akron, Barberton, Cuyahoga Falls, Stow and Tallmadge, though not all voters will have a primary ballot in those cities.

There's just one issue on the special election ballot Tuesday, August 6th, a controversial Norton charter proposal dealing with sewers.

Published in Local

Former State Senator Kevin Coughlin has filed his designation of who his campaign treasurer will be as he appeals an earlier Summit County Elections Board decision to not allow him to run as a non-partisan candidate for Stow Municipal Clerk of Court.

Elections Director Joe Masich confirms Coughlin filed the paperwork Wednesday morning.

The Summit County Board of Elections was looking into whether Coughlin was violating election rules by not having a local campaign committee or treasurer.

Masich tells AkronNewsNow " They were questioning because they know he's had campaign activity since he filed his nominating petitions back in May. They were questioning how all that could be transpiring without any designation of treasurer being filed here at the Board.

Masich says the Board is waiting for more input before making any further decisions on the Coughlin campaign. " The Board had inquired of the prosecutor's office what action we could or should take based on the information we had. We would proceed from there, hold a hearing and refer any findings to the elections commission, and it would go from there."

Coughlin is continuing his campaign while he fights the ruling in court. He still has a committee formed and on file with the Secretary of State from when he held other offices.

Previous Coverage

The Summit County Board of Elections is looking into whether former State Sen. Kevin Coughlin is violating election rules by not having a local campaign committee or treasurer.

Coughlin was ruled off the ballot as an independent for Stow Municipal Court Clerk but is continuing his campaign while he fights the ruling in court. He still has a committee formed and on file with the Ohio Secretary of State from when he held other offices.

He tells The Beacon Journal he'll file the Summit County paperwork if he's put back on the ballot.

On the Web: www.ohio.com

Published in Local
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