Our “Pro Se Team” has uncovered a potential problem for the Lake County Republican Party, the Lake County Auditor, and by extension all Lake County citizens.
First some background information:
Unfortunately, our former Auditor, Mr. Ed Zupancic – a very fine gentleman – was struck with an illness that prevented him from finishing his term as Lake County Auditor. According to the Ohio Revised Code, the Lake County Republican Party was permitted to appoint his replacement.
The Executive Committee of the Republican Party. led by Dale Fellows, Jan Clair, and Jason Wuliger, convened the central committee to elect a replacement. After two SECRET BALLOTS, Mr. Chris Galloway was selected to become the new Auditor.
We were asked by several committeemen to perform an audit of the ballots, and we had a meeting with the three representative of the Executive Committee to review the ballots.
The voting method selected by the Executive Committee was to conduct a SECRET BALLOT. Each committeeman was given a ballot with their pre-printed name on it, and they were instructed to write their selection on the reverse side of the ballot.
Ah, but here is what is known as a “sticky wicket” – a difficult circumstance , if you will….
The Ohio Supreme Court has just issued a ruling on the Ohio Open Meetings act [R.C. 121.22(C)]. They ruled on a case between the Village of Bratenahl and the citizens concerning replacing their president, pro tempore of council by SECRET BALLOT.
Here is their ruling: Ohio Supreme Court Ruling 3233
Here is the Court’s conclusion from page 8:
“We hold that the use of secret ballots in a public meeting violates the Open Meetings Act. Accordingly, we remand this matter to the court of common pleas to issue an injunction under R.C. 121.22 (I)(1), order the village council to pay a civil forfeiture under R.C. 121.22 (I)(2)(a), and award any other relief consistent with R.C. 121.22.”
Given this new ruling, it begs the question: “Now what do we do?” It certainly seems crystal clear to us that the Lake County Republican Party violated the Ohio Open Meetings Act by conducting a secret ballot to select Mr. Chris Galloway as the new Lake County Auditor. We will weigh our options, and try to decide what is in the best interests of Lake County citizens. You are welcome to give us your opinion on this matter.
As a wise man once said ‘You have come to the fork in the road, now take it.”