Elections board changes policy on petition filings


Candidates who turn in petitions without enough signatures will be informed of that before such documents are accepted by the Lucas County Board of Elections, the board agreed by a 3-1 vote Monday.

The new policy aims to help candidates who turn in deficient petitions.

It was approved two days before the deadline for candidates to file for inclusion on the May 6 primary election ballot.

The new policy emerged at the initiative of Dan DeAngelis, the deputy director, who said the idea of an updated policy had been “kicking around” since last April.

The issue is of critical importance to candidates, who can be disqualified from the ballot for making clerical and counting mistakes.

Under the board’s current policy, board staffers are not required to advise candidates if there are deficiencies.

The new policy requires the staff to provide a receipt showing the number of signatures, then notify candidates if they submitted too few or too many.

Jon Stainbrook, a Republican Party board member, cast the lone vote of opposition.

He said the policy hasn’t been studied enough.

“It was sent to me with not even 24-hours notice,” Mr. Stainbrook said, alleging that Democratic Party Chairman Ron Rothenbuhler sets meeting agendas without consulting Republican Party members.

“The [board of elections] staff should not be giving any legal advice regarding the sufficiency of signatures or petitions,” Mr. Stainbrook said in a memo sent to the board’s attorney, assistant Lucas County Prosecutor Kevin Pituch. “It is the candidate’s responsibility to ensure they have the proper number of signatures and all other statutorily required information on their petition prior to filing.”

Mr. Pituch cited a policy used in Allen County, in which candidates sign a document acknowledging that no one behind the counter can advise them on the accuracy of their petition filing.

Candidates interested in filing for one of hundreds of precinct committee positions, or for county auditor or county commissioner, as well as several judgeships, have until 4 p.m. Wednesday to submit signatures.

Under Ohio law, candidates must submit petitions with enough signatures from registered voters to get their names on ballots.

The number depends on the type of office being sought.

Violations of some rules, known as fatal flaws, can disqualify candidates.

One fatal flaw is not submitting enough signatures.

The board certified a number of candidate petitions Monday, including that of Carol Contrada, Democratic Lucas County commissioner, who is seeking a second term. So far, no potential opponents to Ms. Contrada have been certified.

The board disqualified a petition filed by Toledo City Councilman Tyrone Riley to be a Democratic precinct committeeman because of insufficient signatures.

Three signatures came from voters registered in the wrong precinct.

Mr. Riley had the right to withdraw his petitions before Monday’s board meeting to refile a valid petition later, but he declined, Mr. DeAngelis said.

Contact Tom Troy: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419--724-6058 or an Twitter @TomFTroy.