The Rundown

Secretary of state candidate’s request for more election observers denied

By: - October 31, 2022 4:40 am

“Gavel,” a sculpture by Andrew F. Scott, outside the Supreme Court of Ohio. Credit: Sam Howzit / Creative Commons.

An independent Ohio Secretary of State candidate who wanted a rule change regarding election observers has had her request denied by the Ohio Supreme Court.

Terpsehore “Tore” Maras challenged a rule in place for Election Day, in which independent candidates are required to file with a group of fellow candidates to appoint election observers and cannot request the observers individually.

Maras also wanted to compel Secretary of State Frank LaRose to provide observers with software, source codes, and hardware for the vote-tabulating machines.

The court ruled Friday that the Ohio Revised Code’s process of appointing election observers “does not treat candidates who are not affiliated with a political party differently from party-affiliated candidates.”

The rule states that political parties supporting candidates and “any group of five or more candidates” can appoint observers.

The court said Maras is wrong to argue that the election observer statute violates the equal protection clause of the Ohio Constitution. Justices ruled that “simply because a statute applies to elections does not mean it triggers strict scrutiny for equal protection purposes.”

“Because there is no fundamental right for a candidate to appoint an election observer … strict scrutiny is not appropriate here,” the ruling stated.

The court also found that the statute “serves a legitimate government interest by obviating the potential for boards of elections to become overwhelmed with too many election observers.”

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Susan Tebben
Susan Tebben

Susan Tebben is an award-winning journalist with a decade of experience covering Ohio news, including courts and crime, Appalachian social issues, government, education, diversity and culture. She has worked for The Newark Advocate, The Glasgow Daily Times, The Athens Messenger, and WOUB Public Media. She has also had work featured on National Public Radio.

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