Making election law as they go along

ALERT

updated 9:38am After checking this with Montgomery County Board of Elections Director Steve Harsman, the following information: ANYONE can now file to run for Congress- even those who DID NOT file on Dec 7 (the legal 90 day window). Those who did file- will be refunded their filing fees. The only change between the first petitions and the second is that the date of Declaration on the petitions must be dated after 15 Dec 2011. This new 67 day window is totally without precedent, and suggests that a “hurry up” election could be held to fill an unfulfilled seat in the future.

As someone who has filed to run for office a whole bunch of times, I can tell you there is chapter and verse on every possible way to keep a candidate off the ballot. We’ve even had people rejected for the type of paper they used for their petitions.

So, when the Ohio House and Senate manage to reset the primary date, redraw the districts and invalidate petitions overnight you have to wonder how far we are from martial law or a dictatorship. The words that come to mind are “stranger than fiction” for there is no way anyone could look at the Ohio constitution and come up with this fly-by-night gerrymandering and election law off a cocktail napkin.

From the Columbus Dispatch:

Legislation approved Wednesday night and signed into law tonight by Gov. John Kasich includes more of Turner’s turf than Austria’s in the new version of the 10th district. All of Montgomery and Greene counties and half of Fayette County now comprise the 10th. A redistricting law enacted in September also had included all of Pickaway County and most of Fairfield County, but they were stripped out.

Austria, a Beavercreek native, believes he can beat Turner, who lives in Centerville, in the new district, an aide said.

“We had a chance to glance at the proposed new maps and it looks very winnable, especially given that Steve Austria has built a lot of momentum in Montgomery County and it has become clear to us that Republican voters in Montgomery County are eager to finally support a conservative candidate,” said Tyler Grassmeyer, campaign spokesman for Austria.

Turner issued a statement saying he plans to run in the district and is happy that all of Montgomery County is included in it: “This permits our congressional representative to focus on the Miami Valley as opposed to being split between Dayton and Columbus as originally proposed. Our area deserves a representative who is focused on the many and varied issues which confront our region.”…

Although the newly drawn map still favors Republicans in 12 of the 16 districts, GOP incumbents were miffed that they were given little time to vet the map by Ohio House Speaker William G. Batchelder before it was passed late yesterday. Stivers didn’t see it until 4:30 p.m. Wednesday and Austria was said to be “shocked and upset” when he finally saw the reconfigured districts.

“The delegation is extremely upset with the way Speaker Batchelder and his staff handed this,” said a Republican source, speaking only on the condition of anonymity.

Along with altering the districts that previously had been enacted in September, the bill en route to Kasich settled on March 6 as a lone primary date rather than holding two primaries at an extra cost of $15 million.

The primary date positions Ohio as a Super Tuesday player in the race for the White House and made it easier for GOP presidential candidates to play in the state. The March 6 date places Ohio with Texas, Massachusetts, Virginia and eight other states in a delegate-rich conglomerate that could potentially determine the Republican presidential nomination….

The move to eliminate the second primary on June 12 raised questions about qualifying for the March 6 primary ballot.

The two primaries had created two filing deadlines: One requiring candidates for the U.S. Senate, state and local offices to file petitions on Dec. 7 to run in the March 6 primary and another for presidential and U.S. House candidates to file on March 14 for the June 12 primary. As a precaution, Secretary of State Jon Husted had advised all 2012 candidates to file on Dec. 7.

Following the legislature’s designation of one primary on March 6, Husted’s office provided this guidance:

*Candidates for president and the U.S. House of Representatives who filed on Dec. 7 must re-file their nominating petitions by Dec. 30. Others who want to run for those offices but did not file on Dec. 7 now have an opportunity to file by Dec. 30. Matt McClellan, Husted’s spokesman, said petitions submitted on Dec. 7 are “null and void” and new petitions are due Dec. 30.

“If they haven’t filed yet, they’ll have until Dec. 30th to do so,” McClellan said. “If they have filed, they’ll have to re-file.”

*Candidates for the U.S. Senate and state and local offices who were required to file on Dec. 7 have no further opportunity to file.

“If they did not file on Dec. 7, they cannot be on the March ballot,” McClellan said.

*Local governments and school districts with levy requests had to have filed petitions on Dec. 7. Those who had contemplated waiting for the June primary will have no opportunity now to file for the March ballot.

via Candidates moving forward after new districts approved | The Columbus Dispatch.

I filed petitions for the March 6th primary, signed by over 50 qualified electors who are either Democrats or unclassified and all reside within the district I am running in. The requirement to file petitions is 90 days before the primary- how the Secretary of State can not only invalidate these petitions- but also change the district after they have the filing deadline is a usurpation of standing law and ignoring the will of those voters who signed the petitions. The fact that the primary is the exact same day as the petition I turned in, the district name is the same- there are zero grounds for his actions.

To get the required 50 signatures isn’t that hard, but as a matter of principle, I believe that the new signatures should be invalid since they are after the 90 day cut-off. If not, we are setting dangerous precedent.

In case anyone is wondering what is going on with all this backroom gerrymandering, Turner and Austria probably strongly protested the original district which extended across two major media markets making their primary even more expensive. As a way to appease them and to try to save some money to run against the winner of the 6-way shoot-out on the Dem side, they reduced the new district to Greene and Montgomery county- all reachable with purchasing media in one market.

As soon as I get verification of what the requirements are for this petition- I will go and get my signatures again. What is unclear is if this is being required statewide for every house seat- or just ones that the new map has changed. Also the issue of the filing fees- if the original ones will be refunded and re-applied or if they are going to try to squeeze candidates for another filing fee due to their back room deal?

It will be interesting to see if they ever come up with the reason for invalidating a certified slate. To me, it’s just another indication how willing the Republican party is to make things up as they go along.

One thing is certain- the new OH-10 is much more manageable by a candidate and should make it easier for constituents to stay in touch with their representative. The new map is a much better option for those of us little people that still sign petitions thinking that our voices matter.

One more reason not to vote for Turner or Austria in the primary or for a Republican in the general. It’s time to end this “make it up as we go along” excuse for election law.

 

 

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