News the DDN fails to Cover: Test case on petitions for Independents

While the Dayton Daily News has everything you need to know about Touchdown Jesus, a major lawsuit was filed on the 11th of June that not only attacks the dirty world of Dayton’s political monarchy, but also the State of Ohio’s insane laws that create huge barriers of entry for Independent or third-party candidates.

C. Ralph Wilcoxson, II may be one of my new personal heroes. A magistrate working under Tony Capizzi, (who has no problem employing his family) who chose to challenge the boss for his job found out the following things:

  1. Independents have to file a ton more signatures than Dems or Reps to run
  2. You lose your job
  3. The partisan board of elections will crawl through your signatures to disqualify as many as possible- until you end up 1 short.

So he does what a lawyer does, he sues the Board of Elections. Of course, this is kept quiet from the public- but here is the writ of mandamus Wilcoxson VS Board of Elections PDF that is on the expedited docket. Case #CA24095 on the PRO system.

I highly recommend reading it. I’ve OCR’d it so it can now be found via Google- and is ADA compliant- something our current Clerk of Courts should be in JAIL for not doing.

Ralph’s conclusion is the basis of my complaint with our entire state of affairs when it comes to ballot access and the inviolate “Two-Party System”


The right to vote is the foundation of our democracy, yet onerous requirements and extensive administrative problems work to disenfranchise voters further compromising the rights of candidates to gain ballot access and voters to select the candidate of their choosing are both burdensome and unlawful. These barriers make it difficult for minor parties and independent candidates to gain access to the ballot. The clear goal is to freeze the status quo and diminish free speech and the democratic process. The political machines will do everything and anything to intimidate, entice and cajole opponents of their party controlled candidate to drop out of the race.

Our Founding Fathers envisioned a country where successful citizens would leave their chosen professions and answer a call to serve their country in the Judiciary and legislature as a patriotic duty. The republic was supposed to be run by people of varied experiences and passions who joined together from a wide array of fields to solve problems. But somewhere along the way, the lust for money and power corrupted the process. And now the government is increasingly run by those who choose the blood sport of politics as a profession, where the only priority is to keep control at all cost. Election laws are built by and for the two parties that have taken turns running the state. The state has gone to extreme measures to keep independents and third-party candidates off the ballots. Application of the statues and the respondent ‘s failure to accurately count and validate signatures has resulted in irreparable harm to the Relator. The totality of the circumstances has made it nearly impossible for Relator to gain access to the ballot. If the court does not intervene the status quo will remain frozen and make it impossible for independent candidates to gain access to the ballot.

A few of the facts: Judges aren’t allowed to state political positions when campaigning. And, while they can get backed by political parties, I’m forgetting the rules on if they can identify themselves with a political party (I think the answer is NO) and their party affiliation doesn’t appear on the ballot.

In Montgomery County- this almost always means that deals are done- and most judges run un-opposed.

Our laws about “Independent Candidates” and ballot access are totally bogus. Only this year, thanks to Jennifer Brunner, can independent candidates list their party affiliation on the ballot- without the required 15% of the Gubernatorial ballot.

If Wilcoxson had been a D or an R- he would have had to turn in 50 signatures. As a minor party- only have to turn in 25. His standard was 1893! He turned in 2,200 before the BOE went to work as graphologists to judge signatures. Please tell me your signature is the same on a clipboard as on a desk…. yeah right. Maybe now you’ll understand why I was taking video of my signers on my last petition drive.

What this comes down to is the right of the people of the County to choose from a slate of candidates has not been given them by the political elitists who believe they have the right to choose who runs and who doesn’t. Isn’t that what elections are supposed to be for?

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jstultsDavid Esratirichard burksBruce Kettelle Recent comment authors
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Bruce Kettelle
Bruce Kettelle

Maybe California’s idea could be considered in Ohio.  It doesn’t impact local elections (yet) such as the local judge race exampled above but it does change the framework in the higher office primaries. As points out below it has advantages and disadvantages.

Californians Approve Jungle Primary    
While all the media attention has been focused on yesterday’s primaries, the really big news is that California voters approved a jungle primary for statewide and congressional races starting 2011. In the current system, each party has a closed primary, with only Democrats deciding who should be the Democratic nominee and only Republicans choosing their nominee. In the new system, all candidates for each office will be listed on a single ballot regardless of party (although candidates can list their party affiliation after their names, if they want to). The top two vote getters will advance to the general election, even if both are Democrats or both are Republicans. This change will further weaken the party system and make it easier for wealthy outsiders to make it to the general election ballot. It will also destroy all the small parties, since they will never even be running candidates in November. Supporters of the measure say this change will force candidates to the middle of the political spectrum because an extreme right-wing Republican or an extreme left-wing Democrat will have to worry about campaigning in such a way that it increases the other party’s turnout. Jungle primaries are rare outside the South, but California is often a leader in social change. Whether other states follow probably depends on what happens in the first few years with the new system.

richard burks
richard burks

Funny, I heard Mark Owens say the same thing ” We will pick who we want to run for office”. Boss Tweed is alive and well in Dayton, Ohio!


David Esrati:

Please tell me your signature is the same on a clipboard as on a desk…. yeah right. Maybe now you’ll understand why I was taking video of my signers on my last petition drive.

But do you actually have any recourse?  Will they reinstate a previously disqualified signature if you produce the video of that voter signing?  I thought this bit was interesting,

Stern v. Cuyahoga Cty. Bd. of Elections (1968), 14 Ohio St.2d 175, 180, 43 O.O.2d 286, 237 N.E.2d 313 (“Absolute compliance with every technicality should not be required in order to constitute substantial compliance, unless such complete and absolute conformance to each technical requirement of the printed form serves a public interest and a public purpose”).

in light of your previous problems with the MCBOE.