OUT of the dysfunction that plagues both the Lucas County Board of Elections and the local Republican Party, one thing comes clear: It will be a dark day for the democratic process if Jan Scotland isn't on the Nov. 4 ballot for county commissioner.
Riven by internal bickering, GOP officials missed Wednesday's deadline to certify Mr. Scotland with the elections board by two hours, setting up the distinct possibility that incumbent Democrat Tina Skeldon Wozniak will be unopposed.
As a matter of public policy, an electoral free ride for Ms. Wozniak is unacceptable, especially since her fellow Democrat, Pete Gerken, already is unopposed for the other commissioner's slot. An uncontested election is a miscarriage of the democratic process, and the same would be true if the incumbents were Republicans, and the Democrats were on the outside looking in.
Instead of forcing Jon Stainbrook, the insurgent county Republican chairman, to go to court to reverse this travesty, the best course would be for the elections board to find a way to put Mr. Scotland on the ballot, where he belongs. If that fails, federal action under the Voting Rights Act should be explored.
In addition, it ought to be clear that unreasonably early election deadlines are an anachronism in the electronic era. Printing ballots ought not to take as much time as state law now provides.
As to who is responsible for this sad state of affairs, voters have only to look in the direction of Lynn Olman and Pat Kriner, the Republican members of the elections board, who have been in vendetta mode ever since Mr. Stainbrook ousted the local party establishment in June.
If they truly had the interests of the GOP at heart, rather than an intense desire to see their adversary fail, Mr. Olman and Mr. Kriner could easily have helped to ensure that the nominating papers for Mr. Scotland were filed in time.
And despite claims to the contrary, there was nothing to prevent the county elections staff from pointing out the Wednesday deadline so that it could be met. The insider skirmishing that has marred the deliberations of the elections board in recent years only serves to cast a pall of cynicism over the electoral system.
Mr. Scotland, a Toledo insurance agent and former City Council member, had already launched an aggressive campaign for county commissioner. Now, voters may be robbed of the opportunity to make a ballot choice they deserve - at least two candidates for every office. That's wrong.
Americans lecture nations like Zimbabwe about the importance of free and fair elections with multiple candidates, so it is indeed shameful when chaos, confusion, and personal feuds conspire to create a Third-World atmosphere for casting a vote right here in Lucas County.
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