Election officials asked to review decision
LISBON –The county elections board has been asked to review a decision by East Liverpool City Auditor Marilyn Bosco halting efforts that would have let voters decide whether the city can continue using traffic cameras to catch speeding motorists.
Donald Bean, who led the ballot initiative effort, sent elections board Director Adam Booth an email requesting a review after Bosco declined on Wednesday to place the measure on the Nov. 7 ballot.
“If this is what it seems, a refusal to validate our initiative petition without an explanation, we request the board of elections make its own determination as to the sufficiency and validity of our initiative petition,” he wrote.
Booth told Bean he will have to consult with the county prosecutor’s office. “If there is one thing I’ve learned on this job, it’s that we can’t just pick and choose certain code sections and bend them to fit a need,” he told him, referring to the sections of law cited by Bean in his email requesting a board review.
It is unlikely the elections board is the proper venue for the appeal, however. The board appears to have a very limited role in the process: Determining whether the petition had enough valid signatures from registered voters, which it did. Bosco was responsible for determining the validity of the initiative document itself, which she must then certify to the elections board and submit for placement on the ballot.
Bosco sent the elections board an email on Wednesday stating simply, “I cannot certify the sufficiency and validity of the petition to the board of elections.” When pressed later by the newspaper for more details, Bosco said the petitioners waited too long in filing the paperwork with her office and referred to a 2008 court case involving the city of North Canton.
A Google search turned up a 2008 decision by the 5th District Ohio Court of Appeals involving a mandamus action filed by Charles Osborne Jr., who wanted the court to order North Canton to place his initiative effort on the ballot after it was not submitted to the Stark County elections board. Osborne claimed North Canton’s finance director abused his discretion.
The initiative sought to nullify some ordinances adopted by North Canton and also order the city to specifically move money into the general fund. In its decision, the appeals court indicated the proper method for doing this was a referendum, not an initiative. The law for referendums requires petitions be filed within 30 days after the ordinance in question is filed or passed, but Osborne waited more than two years.
East Liverpool Council passed legislation in mid April establishing guidelines for implementing the traffic camera program. Bean did not file his petitions with Bosco until mid July.