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Politics is big in these parts, and we’ve got it covered. John Arthur Hutchison and other staff writers will offer their inside information on the events, big news and little moments of the local political scene in Lake, Geauga and eastern Cuyahoga counties.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Ohio's election process continues to evolve

Much has changed in just the past decade or so when it comes to conducting the election process in Ohio.

For some perspective, think back to the 2000 presidential election when the buzz words “hanging chads” emerged into our level of consciousness.

Counting presidential ballots in Florida that year essentially delayed the country from knowing on election night who the next president was as workers inspected ballots in Florida it brought in a level of fear and distrust with how the election process worked.

Not long afterward, legislators in Ohio decided that all voting equipment in the state needed to have a verifiable paper trail as a way to audit an election and to make sure that all votes would be counted accurately.

That message hit hard in Lake County as the Elections Board was forced to spend thousands of dollars on new voting equipment to accommodate this new state requirement.

Eventually other changes in state law were enacted to make it easier and to provide more opportunities for people to cast their ballots.

No-fault absentee voting was allowed and it gave registered voters the chance to cast a ballot prior to election day for any reason and they no longer had to specify why they couldn't vote at the polls.

A ratio approved as state law in 2006 and effective this year required a voting machine to be available for every 175 registered voters in each county. It was designed to alleviate long lines at voting precincts.

But what many elections officials have noted is that these long lines have mostly been alleviated at the polls since the time the legislation passed and when it was scheduled to be in effect.

The reason is because there are many opportunities for people to vote either by mail or in-person absentee along with the traditional method of going to a polling location.

Lake County has 152,878 registered voters and 864 electronic voting machines, so with the ratio in place 54 additional machines would need to be purchased at a cost ranging from $100,000 to $200,000 — depending on if the equipment was new or used.

The Ohio Senate version of the budget bill contains language to remove the ratio provision, which officials argue is no longer necessary.

The measure is now in a conference committee involving Ohio House of Representatives and Ohio Senate members to hammer out differences between what each chamber passed to deliver a final version of the state budget for Gov. John Kasich to sign before July 1.

Among the next election initiatives that I believe are likely to come out soon will be the ability to register to vote through the Internet. A voter can already check on the Ohio Secretary of State’s website to see if he or she is registered to vote and even update their address.

If that’s already the case, it shouldn’t be that difficult to allow voting registration to be available online.

Filed petitions

Recently filing candidacy petitions in Lake County were Ted Andrzejewski for Eastlake mayor: Joe Zawatski for Willoughby Hills Council at large two-year term commencing Jan. 1, 2014; David M. Fiebig for Willoughby Hills Council at large four-year term commencing Jan. 3, 2014.

Taking out petitions

Recently signing out candidacy petitions with the Elections Board in Lake County are Edward C. Matyja for Wickliffe Council Ward 2, Douglas Davidson for Kirtland Council at large, Geoffrey Snow for Mentor-on-the-Lake Council and Beth Knezevich for Painesville Township trustee.

Patterson conversation

State Rep. John Patterson, D-Jefferson, who represents Ohio House of Representatives District 76, will speak at a Geauga County Democratic Party event from 6 to 8 p.m. June 21 at the organization’s headquarters in Newbury Township.


n Amy Cossick, candidate for Painesville Township Trustee, hosts a Campaign Kick-off Fundraiser from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., June 21 at the Fairport Senior Center. See Cossick.

n Andrzejewski hosts his ninth annual golf outing, 8:30 a.m. shotgun start July 19 at Pine Ridge Golf Course in Wickliffe. See Andrzejewski.

n Mentor on the Lake Councilwoman Desirea Thompson host a Spaghetti dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. Aug. 10 at Amvets Post 109 in Mentor on the Lake. See Desirea or John Thompson.

John Arthur Hutchison

Twitter: @newsheraldjah

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