Pounds: No confidence IVWritten by Tom Pounds | President / Publisher | email@example.com
“The only sure things in life are death, taxes and Lucas County having the worst election board in the State of Ohio.”
— Steve Fought, campaign manager for Rep. Marcy Kaptur
Fought made that comment during the heat of a March election that saw a number of bungles. But when eyeing the lack of progress the Lucas County Board of Elections (BOE) has made since then, those words should act as a clarion call for action. Once again, the BOE finds itself on the end of a wrist-slapping from Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted. Husted is being called upon, again, to resolve personnel issues the BOE — Democrats Ron Rothenbuhler and Keila Cosme, Republicans Jon Stainbrook and Anthony DeGidio and director Meghan Gallagher — can’t resolve for itself.
“It is unfortunate and pathetic that the Lucas County Board of Elections is continually unable to agree on the staffing and organization of the board. Instead, the Lucas County Board of Elections requires constant intervention by my office,” Husted wrote July 25. “I continue to hope (and now insist) that the board members and staff will learn to communicate with each other and focus instead on conducting fair and efficient elections for the citizens or Lucas County.”
He expressed similar sentiments in January: “Let me remind the members of the Lucas County Board of Elections, it is their responsibility, and theirs alone, to remedy the continuing issues of staff competency and workplace environment. Hopefully, a timely solution will prevent this office from the need to take separate action.”
But like a father who raises his voice and wags his finger but fails to dispense discipline, Husted seems dangerously hesitant in dealing with the local BOE. With a presidential election looming — one that could be extremely close and could come down to an even closer Ohio vote — there must be zero tolerance of future dysfunction in the BOE.
With the further debacle on Aug. 6, in which the BOE failed to determine hours and even the location for an early voting center, and reports that even more tie votes will be sent to Husted, this growing morass clearly been allowed to fester beyond any common sense. Lucas County Commissioner Pete Gerken is justified in raising the alarm in Columbus, and hopefully Husted will finally stop threatening and will take direct action.
Husted is already making most of the BOE’s decisions; he might as well take control firsthand. Again, we respectfully ask for and urge Husted to dismantle the BOE’s leadership and force a clean slate that can begin to rebuild confidence as we near a presidential election. If the Secretary of State’s office does not increase its oversight and guarantee the BOE can run an efficient and honest election, the resulting lack of confidence and potential legal issues will rest squarely on its shoulders. There will be scandal on a scale that makes the usual local political games look like preschool frolics, and Husted will carry direct responsibility.
If the chaos is allowed to continue, the only vote that will be believed is a resounding vote of no confidence in the process.
Thomas F. Pounds is president and publisher of Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.