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Traficant asks for review of petitions



Published: Fri, July 30, 2010 @ 12:05 a.m.

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Ex-U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr.

By ED RUNYAN

runyan@vindy.com

WARREN

Two members of Jim Traficant’s election committee submitted a letter to the Trumbull County Board of Elections on Thursday, asking election boards in Mahoning, Trumbull, Portage and Summit counties to review petitions Traficant submitted for his 17th Congressional District candidacy.

The five-page appeal letter says the elections boards improperly invalidated 250 signatures, including 134 in Mahoning County and 88 in Trumbull County.

Ex-U.S. Rep. Traficant’s bid to get on the ballot as an independent candidate was ruled to be 107 signatures short of qualification early this month, but based on mistakes found in Mahoning, Summit and Portage counties in recent days, that number is now down to about 55.

In all, 489 signatures were deemed invalid on Trumbull County petitions, and 471 in Mahoning County.

The letter says “vastly overly stringent standards” for petition signatures were used by the elections boards. The letter doesn’t say specifically in most cases why the signatures should be valid.

But Werner Lange, a committee member, said most of the signatures they want to be ruled valid are in Trumbull and Mahoning counties and they were disqualified because they are not “identical” to the person’s registration card.

“They demand an exact match. There are scores of those” that are not exact matches, Lange said.

Kelly Pallante, Trumbull elections board director, said there are always a lot of signatures disqualified each election because the signer printed his or her name instead of signing it in cursive.

“Every citizen who put their name on this petition, whether signed or printed, did so with the clear intent of putting the name of James Traficant on the ballot,” the Traficant campaign’s letter said.

Joyce Kale Pesta, deputy director of the Mahoning County Board of Elections, said Thursday the board has determined that its counting of voters in the 2006 gubernatorial race was 1,531 too high.

Since Traficant needed a number of signatures equal to 1 percent of that vote, Traficant needed 15 fewer valid signatures than originally thought, Kale-Pesta said.

The Mahoning elections board also determined that five invalid signatures were actually valid, she said.

Pallante, meanwhile, said the elections board in Summit County notified her that it had originally calculated 2,961 too many voters in the 2006 election, meaning Traficant needed 30 fewer signatures than before.

And Portage County reported to Pallante that it had counted 26 too many voters, meaning Traficant needed about three fewer signatures.

Trumbull had found no mistakes, Pallante said.

Traficant was convicted of taking bribes, filing false tax returns, racketeering, and was released from prison last year after a seven-year sentence.

Linda Kovachik, a former Traficant aide when he was a congressman and a committee member now, said Traficant feels that his petitions being ruled invalid is “unjust,” but he doesn’t want to comment right now. Traficant was not present when Lange and Kovachik arrived at the Trumbull elections board Thursday.

“The mild interpretation is that it is human error, but closer to the truth is that there is intentional suppression of the will of the people,” Lange said of the mistakes uncovered so far and issues raised in the letter.

Lange said elections boards are run by Democrats and Republicans, which means a non-party candidate like Traficant is more likely to be mistreated.

David Betras, Mahoning County Democratic Party chairman, said he has used his “bully pulpit” as party chairman to ask the elections board to treat Traficant fairly.

“There are rules that have to be applied to everybody,” Betras said. The Mahoning elections board was “not more stringent than they were for everybody else.”

Pallante said the Trumbull elections board will likely meet next week to discuss the Traficant committee’s letter. The Trumbull board might then send the petitions back to the three other elections boards for review.


Comments

1author50(1121 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

Send in Mark Belinky's crack chief investigator Don Gaudio Jr. to go over all the names.

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2Photoman(1000 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

The "machine" in our local areas has proclaimed that Mr. Traficant will never be allowed to get his name on a ballot. Is it possible that these "mistakes" could have occurred as a result of this unpublished proclamation?

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3Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

“The mild interpretation is that it is human error, but closer to the truth is that there is intentional suppression of the will of the people,” Lange said of the mistakes uncovered so far and issues raised in the letter."

Put Jimbo on the ballot . Let the voters decide .

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4Overtaxed_Voter(14 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

================
Kelly Pallante, Trumbull elections board director, said there are always a lot of signatures disqualified each election because the signer printed his or her name instead of signing it in cursive.
================

It is too bad that a strong journalist didn't request documentation of exactly how many Trumbull County voters were not allowed to cast ballots at the polls during the past few elections because their signature was not “identical” to what was shown in the poll's registration book.

I would be willing to bet that few, if any voters were not allowed to cast ballots, even if there signature was not identical to what was on file.

FAIR and EQUAL STANDARDS is what should be required by citizens from their respective Boards of Elections.

Since Jennifer Bruner is out of the running for any position this year, it will be interesting to see if the Secretary of State's office steps into this matter.

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5mrblue(975 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

Has anyone noticed how much press Tim Ryan has been getting these past several months? Is he worried that Traficant might actually give him a race? In my opinion Traficant doesn't have a chance, but put him on the ballot and let the voters decide. It could prove interesting.

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61970mach1(1005 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

The disturbing part of this is that if he ran as a Dem or GOP he'd only need to get 50 valid sigs to make ballot, but to run as IND he needs 2,199 or whatever board of elections decides depending on the day, and then redecides. Moving target.

How hard is it to get 50 valid sigs? Not very, unless of course you are Charlie Wilson and his brilliant son Jason, then it is rocket science.

Who made this law? State legislature. Who makes up state legislature? Dems and GOP. Who signed it into law? Dem or GOP guv. Who reviews it in court? Dem or GOP common pleas judges. Then GOP or Dem Appelas Ct. judges. Then Dem or GOP Ohio Supreme Court judges.

Then to challenge in Federal court, who decides? Federal judge who is appointed by Dem or GOP prez, and then confirmed by Dem and GOP senate.

And how does one become a federal judge? Well, by being involved in GOP or Dem politics.

So, is anyone really surprised the law was written and upheld to give an advantage to GOP and Dem candidates?

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71970mach1(1005 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

Yes, censoredship, it is ridiculous and you are correct, it is PRECISELY to keep out IND candidates.

This isn't a "Traficant thing" it is equally a load of garbage for anyone who wants to run as IND. Ohio law is sections 3513.05 & 3513.257 for the requirements.

In Traficant's case, he was 107 sigs short, but after boards of elections revised their #'s, he is now just 59 sigs short and he has several legitimate appeal issues, such as how they count the precincts that are split between 6th & 17th district; missing page of sigs from Mahoning Co.; and whether the people who signed name in print form will have their sigs counted.

It is Traficant's position that based upon his team's calculation of how many sigs were needed that he has 20 MORE sigs than needed, and that is BEFORE sigs that were thrown out because they were printed are reviewed.

Of course, he should have only had to have gotten 50 sigs in the first place, NOT 2,199.

And you can bet that the Trumbull Board of Elections is conferring with every prosecutor they can find right now looking for every way humanly possible to keep him off the ballot, not b/c of any conspiracy to keep him off b/c the reality is he has very very long odds of beating Ryan, but b/c if he is put back on the ballot it will make them look like complete fools.

Of course, if he does get back on the ballot, you can be 100% certain that there will be no consequences for the people at the boe who screwed up , b/c this is govt after all.

And who cares that one of the very most fundamental rights we have, free elections, was trampled on? To me, it is not about Traficant, it is about our freedoms.

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8grand4dad(196 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

Enough already. Stop this insanity PLEASE!!!

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