11/7/2019Ohio Judge Suppresses Results Of Anti-Speed Camera Election
East Liverpool, Ohio votes against speed cameras will not be counted -- for now.
The people of East Liverpool, Ohio voted Tuesday on an anti-speed camera referendum, but those votes will not be counted -- at least for now. Columbiana County Common Pleas Judge Scott A. Washam intervened in the election to prevent the public's decision at the ballot box from being revealed. Residents of the notorious speed trap town have tried for more than a year to get their measure on the ballot only to be thwarted by legal challenges from city officials who want to save the lucrative program.
"Sadly the votes for our issue have been sealed and won't be released until Judge Washam rules on the lawsuit filed by the city of East Liverpool against us and the Board of Elections," East Liverpool Citizens Against Traffic Cameras said in a statement. "This all could have been avoided had city officials simply allowed us to vote, but, regardless, this is the reality of the situation."
The group expects a ruling on whether the votes will or will not be counted by early December. Courts around the country have intervened on occasion to stop elections and save the use of automated ticketing machines, but none have ever gone so far as to nullify votes once cast (view a list of the 42 photo enforcement ballot contests around the country). East Liverpool officials insist the initiative is invalid, claiming it is untimely. Law Director Charles L. Payne asked the judge to issue a permanent order ensuring the ballots are never counted.
The Columbiana County Board of Elections defended the referendum, citing the 2000 Ohio Supreme Court Case Rose v. Lorain County Board of Elections.
"It is well settled that, 'provisions for municipal initiative or referendum should be liberally construed in favor of the power reserved so as to permit rather than preclude the exercise of such power, and the object sought to be attained should be promoted rather than prevented or obstructed,'" Columbiana County assistant prosecuting attorney Krista R. Peddicord wrote for the board.
East Liverpool residents were able to have their voice heard in a different way Tuesday by throwing Mayor Ryan C. Stovall out of office with just twenty percent of the vote. He was beaten by Gregory Bricker, a write-in candidate.