May 24, 2014
By Bob Fitrakis
The Green Party is fighting for its political life in Ohio. The gerrymandered, Republican-controlled state legislature outlawed all minor parties in Ohio in 2013 while both the Libertarian and Green Parties were in the middle of the petition drives for their gubernatorial candidates. Neither the Libertarians nor the Greens achieved ballot status by submitting signatures. While the Libertarian Party sued to maintain ballot status and lost in federal court, the Green Party invoked a seldom used state law that allows a statewide candidate to gain ballot status by getting 500 write-in votes.
The initial canvas of precincts showed the Green Party with 766 write-in votes for their gubernatorial candidate. The number, according to the Ohio Secretary of State’s website, has now dwindled to 628 votes. By state law, all county boards of elections must certify their vote total and forward it to the Secretary of State’s office by May 27. The Secretary of State must post the actual results 30 days after the May 6 election.
Anita Rios, the gubernatorial candidate, is currently showing 4% in SurveyUSA’s statewide poll. In order for the Green Party to survive under the current Republican law, still being challenged in federal court, their gubernatorial candidate must get 2% in the November election.
The Green Party of Ohio has played a key role in Ohio election protection activities. In 2004, they sued to recount the controversial Bush victory in the Buckeye state. In 2008, the Green Party ran an extensive election protection effort and their 2006 gubernatorial candidate Bob Fitrakis (this writer) was involved in deposing the Bush family’s election IT specialist, Michael Connell. In 2012, this writer, then a Green Party congressional candidate, sued the Ohio Secretary of State in both state and federal court to halt secret, untested, experimental software patches from being placed on 20 county central tabulators.
Whether Rios and the Green Party appear on the ballot with the legal standing to sue and the right to certify election observers throughout the state on the upcoming election day depends on the 128 vote surplus that may be certified on May 27.
Green Party voters found it difficult in many counties, particularly Franklin County, to cast a write-in vote on the electronic voting machines. When voters pulled a Green Party ballot the voting machine would give them the option for a write-in without it mentioning what race it was for and Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted issued a directive preventing pollworkers from handing voters a list of official statewide write-in candidates unless the voter specifically requested it.
In Franklin County, 454 people voted Green and only 130 write-in votes were counted the day after the election. That number has since fallen to 122 write-in votes. In Cuyahoga County, that initially reported 141 write-in votes, the number declined to 79. With 100% of the counties reporting and the unofficial county canvas being reported by the Ohio Secretary of State’s office, it is hard to imagine that the Ohio Green Party would lose another 128 votes.
Bob Fitrakis ran as the Green Party-endorsed Governor candidate in 2006, as a Green Party candidate for U.S. Congress in 2012 and is currently the Lt. Governor candidate.
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June 8, 2012
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News Director Sean Gilbow of WVKO 1580AM recently outed an extreme right-wing organization that is behind the attempt by Taxpayers for Westerville Schools to repeal the Westerville Public School levy. Westerville Schools, considered one of the premier school districts in central Ohio is coming under heavy attack from a small group of anti-government zealots that are bringing the politics of Wisconsin governor Scott Walker and the Kochs to Ohio.
Under Ohio law, a temporary tax issue such as the 5-year levy passed by Westerville Schools cannot be repealed. So instead, the group is seeking to repeal the permanent 2009 tax issue instead, and have elicited the help of the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law.
Why do they call it the “1851 Center for Constitutional Law”? The date refers to the adoption of the current Ohio Constitution. But what their moniker doesn’t tell you is that the organization yearns to return to the “good old days” of pre-Civil War America. The Center is doing legal work for Right-to-Work anti-union so-called Ohio Workplace Freedom Amendment. Its Executive Director Maurice A. Thompson was the lead attorney in the 2008 Ohio Republican Party RICO (Racketeering, Influence and Corruption) suit against ACORN (Association of Communities Organizing for Reform Now).
Under the guise of “improving the business climate” in Ohio, the Center is pushing the agenda of the Koch brothers already defeated by Ohio voters by 25 points in the vote against Senate Bill 5 last year. The Center has printed a guide to show citizens how they can “roll back tax levies.”
On the 1851 Center website, they note that, “On May 7, 2012, taxpayers for Westerville Schools, with the representation of the 1851 Center, commenced circulation of an initiative petition to repeal the $6.71 mil tax increase narrowly approved in March….”
The Center goes on to claim that, “The Westerville effort marks the inaugural action of the 1851 Center in assisting taxpayers in using a previously obscure section of the Ohio Revised Code to lower their school district’s tax burdens, while forcing Ohio school districts to control spending and reign in labor costs rather than raising taxes.” The Center is also advocating that the government of Ohio “reduce the number of times per year school districts may place tax increases on the ballot from three to one.”
Bradley A. Smith serves as the chairman of the Center’s board. A law professor at Capital University, he’s perhaps the leading advocate in America for allowing the wealthy to contribute unlimited funds to candidates. His book, Unfree Speech: The Folly of Campaign Finance Reform, published in 2001, was a precursor to the Citizens United decision. He also has represented the Chamber of Commerce in litigation.
Historically, the public and scholars assume that 1% of the population giving unlimited funds to influence campaigns is inherently corrupt, elitist and undemocratic.
Smith was appointed to the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) where he argued that unlimited spending was simply a form of free speech. In 2004 he served as Chairman of the FEC. Not surprisingly, Unfree Speech was cited by the U.S. Supreme Court in its controversial Citizens United decision.
The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law is a throwback to the 19th century robber barons. It is anti-worker, pro-plutocrat, detests the idea of public schools, and works for the wealthiest 1% while cloaking their beliefs in the rhetoric of freedom.
Originally published by The Free Press, https://freepress.org
April 15, 2012
The Free Press obtained public records from all 88 of Ohio’s county Boards of Elections (BOE) documenting that 1,092,392 voters were removed from the voting rolls since the last presidential election.
Cuyahoga County, which includes Democratic-rich Cleveland, led the Buckeye State with 267,071 purges. Franklin County which includes the capital of Columbus, removed 93,578 voters. Franklin County went 58% for Obama in the 2008 election. Hamilton County which includes Cincinnati removed 65,536 voters, for a total of 426,185 from these three Ohio counties. Once again, a few rural Ohio counties reported no purges. These include Hancock, Huron, Sandusky, and Wood counties.
The National Voting Registration Act (NVRA) of 1993 mandates that each state make a reasonable effort to remove the names of ineligible voters from the official voting rolls. Some voters were purged for legitimate reasons such as those who are deceased and voters who moved out of the county or out of state. But, the Act also allows BOEs to remove voters who have not voted in two consecutive federal election cycles. BOEs are allowed to mail to registered voters who can be purged if they don’t respond to the mailing – even if they still live at their registered address.
These discretionary mass purges concentrated primarily in Ohio’s urban centers could be the key to whether Obama wins the nation’s most controversial swing state in this year’s election. A similar study by the Free Press during the 2008 year revealed 1.25 million voters purged. After the 2004 Ohio election debacle and recount, the Free Press discovered that between the 2000-2004 election cycles 305,000 voters had been purged in the state.
In 2008, the grassroots activist group ACORN and other groups re-registered many of Ohio’s purged voters before the November election. After Obama’s victory, an obviously concentrated effort by the Right targeted ACORN and succeeded in shutting it down. Without ACORN or a similar operation in place, what will happen in Ohio in 2012?
We could follow the actions of the ACLU in 2008, that won a lawsuit in Michigan halting the mass purging of voters in Detroit. Michigan officials purged an estimated 30,000 voters per year based on their failure to respond to the voter registration material sent to their house. Justice Stephen J. Murphy of the U.S. District Court ordered Michigan to “immediately discontinue their practice of canceling or rejecting a voter’s registration based upon the return of the voter’s original voter identification card as undeliverable.”
Perhaps the ACLU or another organization will step up in Ohio to remedy or eliminate these purges In the meantime, Ohio voters should check their registration status before heading to the polls this November.
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