Wednesday, May 23, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio


Voting in the schools

Rick Van Landingham, Toledo's best-known environmental activist, is occasionally not only annoying but correct. This time he's just annoying.

That's too bad for him, for it detracts from the seriousness with which he wants himself and his causes to be perceived.

He has announced he will file a lawsuit challenging the narrow victory of Issue 2 on Nov. 5 because in many instances polling booths were set up in schools where teachers and kids supported the levy with signs and buttons, which he says created an unfair atmosphere as voters decided its fate.

He wants the results set aside and a future ban on using schools as polling places if there's a school issue on the ballot.

To be sure, election rules prohibit any persuasive buttonholing of voters inside polling places. Partisans of either side of an issue must confine themselves to the entrances to the venues.

The presence of pro-levy signs in school buildings that served as polling places is something the county elections board should address in the future. The appearance of electioneering can be as insidious as the act itself.

However, given the furor surrounding the levy campaign, it is difficult to believe that Toledoans voting for or against it hadn't made up their minds well before they entered their school polling places. It is as unlikely that anyone, including Mr. Van Landingham, was swayed by what they saw when they went to school to vote.

It is presumptuous for this man, whom voters roundly rejected in his recent council bid, to try to undo the will of the majority, slim as it was. It smacks of a double dose of sour grapes, and no judge is likely to overturn an election because of his pique.

People have been voting on school levies in public buildings, including schools, for decades. Certainly there are ways to sanitize those school venues to comply with election laws and their spirit. Less likely is that this city can find other public spaces in which to hold elections.

Again we have to put up with Mr. Van Landingham's grandstanding. If he saw a problem with voting on school issues in schools, why didn't he go to the board of elections and point it out ahead of time?

He had no reluctance before the election about weighing in against the levy in The Blade's Readers' Forum. And like a rambunctious, out-of-control adolescent, he also went about defacing pro-levy signs. Police caught him but no charges were filed.

Mr. Van Landingham's tactics detract from his sometimes sensible aims and from the regard in which Toledoans might otherwise hold him.

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