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Published: Monday, 7/9/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Government reform group falls short on ballot signatures

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER
Campaign Finance Dept. worker Lori Jacek accepts petitions from Thomas Palmer, center, and Bob Reinbolt, who turned in their petitions to the Lucas County Board of Elections at the Government Center in Toledo, Ohio. The men are members of a citizens group working to place a county reform measure onto the November ballot. Campaign Finance Dept. worker Lori Jacek accepts petitions from Thomas Palmer, center, and Bob Reinbolt, who turned in their petitions to the Lucas County Board of Elections at the Government Center in Toledo, Ohio. The men are members of a citizens group working to place a county reform measure onto the November ballot.
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It’s back to the streets for petitioners hoping to spur change in Lucas County’s government.

The Lucas County Board of Elections today declared that the county reform petitions submitted on June 29 were thousands of valid signatures short — many of them because of petition circulators’ mistakes.

However, all is not lost for the attempt to revamp Lucas County government. State law allows the reform group another seven weeks, until Aug. 28, to collect the necessary signatures.

Thomas Palmer, a Toledo lawyer involved in the county reform effort, said the group will meet Tuesday to decide whether to appeal the elections board’s conclusions, and to decide how to make up the signature deficit.

“That is much lower than I thought,” Mr. Palmer said of the 8,764 signatures that were found to be valid.

The elections board voted to approve the petition itself as valid, an important step toward getting on the ballot, but said the number of signatures was insufficient.

The petition needs 14,483 valid voter signatures. In addition to the 8,764 valid signatures, the board invalidated 13,431 signatures. In all, the reform group turned in 22,195 signatures.

More than 4,000 of the invalidated signatures were thrown out because of mistakes by petition circulators.

The circulator of each set of petitions — known as “part petitions” and containing from as few as 14 signatures to as many as 371 — is required to state the number of signatures on each form and attest that he or she witnessed each signature.

Forty-two part petitions were rejected because the documents lacked correct signature totals.

If the county reorganization question qualifies for the ballot, Lucas County voters would get to vote on whether to retain the row-office form of government Lucas County has used for most of its history, or change to a county executive system.

Under the county reform plan, 10 existing elected county offices would be eliminated or converted to appointed jobs. Voters would elect a county executive and a nine-member county council.

The proposed charter is modeled on a new form of government recently enacted in Cuyahoga County.

Contact Tom Troy at tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058.



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