Board of Elections to meet tomorrow morning to decide fate of 2 candidates for Dayton City Commission

There were 7 people who turned in the faultily designed Dayton City Commission petitions on March 3, 2023. On Tuesday, March 14, the Board of Elections met to validate petitions and 5 were accepted which creates a primary on May 2nd 2023 to choose 4 candidates to advance. This process could be totally eliminated and save the tax payers a lot of money, by a move to Ranked Choice Voting where all candidates would appear on the November ballot to be ranked in order and the top ranked 2 would be the new Dayton City Commissioners. But, of course, the people in power have made sure that won’t happen.

In fact, they’ve made sure that the petition process is an obstacle to democracy. It’s poorly designed, poorly worded, not made available online, has lots of unnecessary bits and pieces- which generates really bad signature acceptance rates. This is nothing new, back in 2013 I redesigned the petition to actually be a useful, helpful, and fail proof document- I didn’t post it online for fear someone might use it.

How bad is it? Well if you are a six sigma guru, it would fail so bad you’d shut the thing down. Here are the stats from the 7 candidates who turned in (by turn in date):

  • Valerie Duncan 75% correct of 1250
  • Chris Shaw 74% correct of 1279 (incumbent)
  • Matt Joseph 74% correct of 1238 (incumbent)
  • Jordan Wortham 82% correct of 791
  • Marcus Bedinger 61% correct of 822
  • Jo Love 50% correct of 918
  • David Esrati 87% correct of 554

Note, I was the last, and best percent correct. If you were assigning grades like a teacher would:

  • Duncan C
  • Shaw C
  • Joseph C
  • Wortham B-
  • BedingerD-
  • Love F
  • Esrati B+

Isn’t it good to know, no one is worthy of an A?

The fact that Chris Shaw and Matt Joseph have had the ability to correct this petition process easily through a charter amendment should be something you should consider before voting for them.

The State of Ohio has many petitions that are better designed and work very well. The City refuses to use them.
The City of Cincinnati has their own version of this, but, they’ve put a lot of detail in their charter to cover some of the problems. They also cap signatures at 1000.

Tomorrow morning at 8:30 AM in the Montgomery County Administration building on the mezzanine level, the Board of Elections will reconvene to consider the way voters signatures have been adjudicated and presented by their organization, this was requested by Esrati, and Love will also appear.

The way you challenge signatures is to re-contact the voters, and have them sign a notarized affidavit to “cure” their disqualification on the petitions.

The easier way, would be to allow candidates to go out and solicit new signatures after the ruling, but, we don’t want anything to be easy.

Just remember, it only takes 50 signatures to run for Congress, but 500 to run for Dayton City Commission.

The chief stumbling block for Esrati is that about 14 of his signatures were ruled invalid by the “dupe” rule. 4 were because voters printed instead of signed the way they are on record at the BOE. The dupe rule states that no voter is allowed to sign more petitions than the number of seats coming up.

Unfortunately, Dayton’s petition isn’t like Cincinnati’s which has this same stupid rule (more on that in a sec), which actually clearly states “You are not allowed to sign more than ___ petitions in this race” in- this case, 2 for the 2 open seats.

The language in the charter clearly states:

“we individually certify that we have signed no other Mayor’s petition and no petition for Commissioner greater in number than the number of Commissioners to be chosen at the next _______ municipal election.” 

City of Dayton Charter

That means voters are magically supposed to know how many they can or cannot sign, and since this is buried in a massive run on sentence, they may miss this point.

As a bunch did.

And btw – the petitions also say


Every Ohio Petition for office

Does this mean that by signing more than an UNSTATED NUMBER OF PETITIONS on the petition the voter is possibly risking an M5 felony charge?

“F-5 violations are among the least severe, requiring between 6 and 12 months of imprisonment, and up to a $2,500 fine. The court may impose an additional five years of community control. Examples of F-5 violations include breaking and entering and theft over an amount of $1,000.”

Does this seem Democratic to you?

Now, the BOE will tell candidates that you can check your signatures for validity by coming into our subterranean lair and look each voter up on a computer and verify it. Only problem, that won’t tell you anything about who has signed 2 petitions until they are turned in and tallied.

The process that the Secretary of State and the City of Cincinnati have turned to is they check by date of turn in, not by date of signing. This makes zero legal sense, because if voters signed on an earlier date, any later date would be in fact, a false signature.

I have been trying to get this info all the way up to this morning, when the BOE finally responded to my public records request from weeks ago. In the mean time, I’ve gone out to each address, in some cases multiple times, with a notary and had voters weigh in. Most were pissed. They sign because they think voters should have a choice on the ballot. Voters should decide who will lead them in an election, not a selection by a partisan Board of Elections.

Hopefully, the board will realize, that this process has been rigged to turn them into tools of the establishment, not as protectors of our election process.

I turned in over 500 signatures of registered voters. I should be on the ballot. I do it very carefully, going by walking lists of those voters.

Where things went wrong? Because of the “date of turn in” method, which penalizes those of us who have real jobs, I didn’t bother 1200 people after dark to get too many signatures. I respected the voters. The BOE counted all 1200 toward signing, even though the only standard that needs to be met is 500. By counting the extras, these signatures could be used to block a candidate.

That isn’t a good or fair system, nor is it the voters wishes.

For a reference of what voters think of you knocking on their doors at 8:15, in the cold, dark months of January and February, see this screen shot:

Ring doorbell photo of David Esrati soliciting signatures in the South Park Neighborhood.
From a private facebook group in my own neighborhood on the evening of Jan 6, 2023

I first found out that my signatures failed at 4:15 on Friday Mar 10 at 4:15 from Director Jeff Rezabek. It was too late to pick them up and start working on the analysis and cure in time for the Mar 14 meeting.

This has delayed the process by a full 2 weeks of certification. When in fact, if the BOE wasn’t busy checking good signatures past the required 500, we’d have been done long ago. Note, the first 2 times I ran, I turned in 503 and 506 back in 1993.

This is really a question of who are elections for, the voters or the political parties that are willing to go to any length to keep their power. The largest number of voters in Ohio aren’t willing to even vote in primaries for fear of being labeled D or R. They have no rights to select who they want to pick for the general election other than what the parties choose (laws in Ohio make it almost impossible for “Independent” or “Third Party Candidates” to gain ballot access). We also let only D’s or R’s run our elections- so independents, or even candidates in “NON-PARTISAN” elections like this one have no voice.

If the BOE doesn’t decide in my favor, the only solution is to appeal directly to the Ohio Supreme Court for an emergency hearing. Just to find representation here is hard (since all the governments spread the love with all the firms and everyone is conflicted out). I was offered representation by a Columbus firm, just pony up a $7500 retainer.

For those of you who know me, I’m getting to be a mediocre pro se attorney, so I am not afraid to go that route. But, to save everyone money and time, the right choice for the BOE is to blame the city for failure to solve the problems, and put the question of who should make it past the primary- to the voters.

That’s you.

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