Thursday, May 6, 2010

The 'Party' is just getting started...

I was at my preferred fitness center this morning, trying to mind my own business for a change, when I noticed this article splashed across the local newspaper with the following headline and subheadline: Party’s over for unused ballots – Ohio secretary of state’s orders leave 24,000 forms extra.

I feel compelled to question why The Lima News would run – above the fold on its front page – this article on unused ballots.

What it fails to mention was that Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner ordered the ballots for the minor parties – in addition to the “R” and “D” primary ballots – after losing multiple federal court battles on the issue.

Another important detail that was overlooked is there were so many extra ballots due to Brunner dragging her feet and waiting until the eleventh hour before tackling the guidelines for the four minor parties after her most recent litigation loss.

Mind you, secretaries of state from both major parties had been playing the ballot access game for years with the minor parties (the Libertarian Party in particular). So, earlier this decade they banded together and sued for their constitutional right to be able to run for office with their preferred party’s affiliation.

Another point of contention for me is the fact no effort was made to contact at least one representative from the Libertarian Party of Ohio for comments. Based on the absence of commentary from the other three minor parties in Ohio, I’m guessing they weren’t contacted either.

(For your own opportunity to get in touch with LPO leadership, please go to for contact information)

I sent press releases to all three top news media outlets in Allen County before the primary urging them to remind their readers, viewers, and listeners that they would have six parties from which to choose this year. Not a peep went out from them.

This leaves me wondering how many minor party ballots went unrequested for the simple fact voters didn’t know there were other options.

With The Lima News, I wasn’t pushing for a front page or even a Section A printing. I specified in that release that a couple of paragraphs in the Region & Ohio section was all that would be needed.

The operative point that some folks may raise is how excessive ballot printing can be avoided in future primaries.

One idea that has been proposed by LPO leadership is a postcard registration system the Secretary of State’s office can mail out to Ohio residents. By allowing Ohioans to register their party affiliation in this manner, the SoS office can then advise the counties’ respective boards of election how best to proceed in terms of numbers of primary ballots.

Since all registered voters’ party affiliations (as well as the lack thereof) already are a matter of public record in Ohio, this will not constitute an invasion of privacy beyond what already is in place.

Finally, what bothers me no matter how many times I reread the article – to be certain I am not missing its context – is the tone it carries that just about suggests the Libertarian and other parties did little more than to waste people’s time and money by simply exercising a constitutional right.

On that matter, I would refer everyone back to paragraphs 3 and 4 above as well as paragraph 5 of Heather Rutz’ article. As Rutz unknowingly verifies in that passage, Brunner is just one more example of what is inherently wrong with the two-party system and the two parties running it.

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