SIDNEY — The Shelby County Board of Elections will appeal the decision made by the Shelby County Common Pleas Court to allow Sidney Mayor Michael Barhorst run for re-election.
On Thursday, the board of elections released a statement saying, “they gave proper notice that it will appeal to the Third District Court of Appeals the decision/order the Common Pleas Trial Court made on Sept. 10, 2015.”
“I am, of course, disappointed that the board of elections has chosen to pursue this matter further. Not only are they tying up the time of the Shelby County Prosecutor’s Office, but that of the courts when they have other pressing issues to consider,” Barhorst said in a statement Thursday. “Judge Stevenson’s Sept. 10 ruling considered applicable state law as well as decisions previously made by the Ohio Supreme Court. In addition, it was a refreshing dose of common sense in a matter that has witnessed very little. The board of elections has unfortunately chosen to appeal that decision.”
Christopher Gibbs, chairperson of the Shelby County Board of Elections said, without question this board holds the trial court in high regard and followed the court order promptly.
The common pleas court decision was accelerated by the need for the board of elections to print oversees and military ballots by Sept. 11.
Gibbs said they ordered one of those ballots and Barhorst’s name does appear on it. The rest of the absentee ballots are sent to the printer on Oct. 6. He said they requested of the appeals court an expedited opinion.
Barhorst filed the original suit, seeking a court order to certify his nominating petition and statement of candidacy, on Aug. 21 in response to a ruling made earlier that week by the board of elections rejecting his nominating petition.
In the courts conclusion made on Sept. 10, it states, “The court is required to give deference to the Board’s decisions on election matters. However, in this case all the Board apparently did was look at the number of lines on the petition that were filled out and compared that to the number cited by Barhorst in his certificate without any regard to what a line contained.”
The board didn’t certify his petition because “the Circulator Statement indicated the number of signatures witnessed but contained more signatures appearing on the petition. … A circulator cannot witness fewer signatures than what appears on the petition.”
In Barhorst’s suit it said, “Barhorst, however, accurately represented that the petition contained 29, rather than 30 signatures, since one of the signers of the petition both printed and signed his name as permitted” by an Ohio Supreme Court case.
The board denied this allegation along with saying that Barhorst relied on outdated case law. The board’s position was that Barhorst should have stricken the printed name from the petition.
In the board’s statement Thursday, they say the hope is the appeal process will provide clarity to the candidate petition process and support the Board’s assertion that the Ohio Revised Code grants the authority and the responsibility to boards of election to determine the sufficiency of candidate petitions presented to them.
“Clarification of the Board’s responsibilities in these matters well ahead of the naturally raucous nature of the 2016 Presidential election cycle is the longer view here. In the short term, while we empathize with any candidate consternation this close to the 2015 election cycle, we are hopeful the judicial process for remedies and clarity will prevail timely,” Gibbs said.
He finished by saying, while the board’s responsibility is to provide and encourage robust access to the ballot, this board also holds that the standards for a candidate to be elevated to that same ballot should be appropriately high.
“Any departure from Secretary of State Directives as they are supported in the Ohio Revised Code, no matter how minute, can only result in an erosion of the high standards necessary for a candidate to gain access to the ballot,” Gibbs said.
“Given the fact that the election is now just five weeks away, it would seem that the voters should have the choice as to whom they want to elect to office,” Barhorst said.
Reach this writer at 937-538-4825; follow on Twitter @SDNAlexandraN