Complex election rules, rule out the will of the people

The city wants it on the ballot, the people want it on the ballot, but- oh, wait, everything you did was in vain, because you missed the deadline.

Really? People went and jumped through the hoops of getting the proper petition language, collecting signatures, turning everything in- but, now have to wait a year?

This is a “democratic process” – this is the “will of the people”? The lack of easily accessible instructions with clear deadlines, rules and restrictions for getting things on the ballot is one of the things I talked about when I attempted to get nominated by the Montgomery County Democratic Party executive committee to the Board of Elections. Instead, you got Rhine McLin- who offered no vision of changing anything.

The story from the DDN sums it up: the City Council in Centerville rezoned some property from residential to mixed use. The citizens who live nearby didn’t like the decision and want to overturn it. The citizens organized and followed the process- and turned the information in to the city- who must review first, before turning them into the BOE for verification. The BOE says everything is OK- except that they didn’t turn the petitions in early enough to get on the ballot.

Betty Smith, director of the Montgomery County Board of Elections, said the petitions were filed there for required review on Aug. 27. Smith said the petitions had to be filed by Aug. 8 to meet the 90-day requirement.

“They met all other requirements, including number and validity of signatures,” she said.

Social Row CPR hoped to reverse Centerville City Council’s 5-2 July 17 decision to rezone the land. Volunteers from the group had gone door-to-door throughout the city, gathering signatures of registered voters

The group turned the signatures in to the City of Centerville on Aug. 15. After its review, the city passed them on to the election board.

The issue now can’t be placed on the ballot for more than a year — in November 2013.

“A referendum by petition can only be placed on the ballot in a general election until it is a charter issue,” Smith said…

Centerville city manager Greg Horn said the city had hoped to resolve the issue sooner rather than later. “Our preference would also be to have this decided as soon as possible, not to have it in limbo,.” he said.

via Centerville rezoning petitions miss election deadline |

Let’s look at this again-

  1. The City Council who is elected to do the will of the people does something the people don’t like.
  2. The people exercise their right to petition government to put the decision to a vote.
  3. The Board of Elections, selected by a small group of political insiders, says the people have to wait a year.
  4. The City government and the developer sit in limbo for a year while waiting for the right time to vote on a pressing issue.

It seems to me that the elected representatives of the people can sit on things to vote on, until the window for getting something controversial on ballot till the last minute, to make sure that the voters can’t overturn it. This is almost as bad as the rules in the Dayton City Charter that stop citizens from putting charter changes or doing recalls by requiring a percentage of “registered voters” instead of a “percentage of actual voters” (Dayton supposedly has 100,000 registered voters when the census says it only has 108,000 people over the age of 18 who are eligible to vote).

Despite both the citizens and the city of Centerville wanting this issue on the ballot- and to settle the question, a special election is not an option. It costs too much.

Is this a great democracy we live in, or what?


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