Strickland should have right to vote

Gubernatorial candidate Ted Strickland may not be able to vote in next month’s election.

A challenge was filed Oct. 4 by an East Liverpool resident who claims Strickland should not be allowed to vote in Lisbon because he lives in Columbus. Strickland maintains that he has residences in both Lisbon and Columbus. He pays taxes in Columbus, but votes in Lisbon, according to an article in yesterday’s Akron Beacon Journal.

Jacquelyn Long, the woman who filed the challenge, is a Democrat, but her son supports and contributes to Secretary of State Ken Blackwell’s campaign, according to the Beacon article.

The challenge was supposed to have been heard yesterday, but a state appeals court halted it Monday — the same day Strickland filed a federal lawsuit against Blackwell regarding Long’s challenge.

What does Blackwell have to do with Strickland’s voting habits?

The secretary of state is Ohio’s top election official. Because of the tie at the local board of elections, Blackwell is technically the tie-breaker in deciding whether Strickland can vote.

Strickland spokesman Keith Dailey said the federal suit was filed “because he is not being treated like any other voter would be under the same circumstances.”

The suit alleges that Strickland’s secretary of state status is interfering with the suit, and that Strickland’s right to equal protection under the law is being violated.

The whole suit sounds fishy to the Stater editorial board.

Sure, Strickland may be inviting confusion by paying taxes in Columbus and registering to vote in Lisbon — but that’s not against the law. After all, how many college students are registered to vote at their university address instead of their permanent home?

The whole situation seems like a ploy by the Republican party to take the focus away from the real issues of the election. The party knows Blackwell is trailing by too much and is trying to throw some dirt onto Strickland’s name.

In the Beacon article, Secretary of State spokesman James Lee said it is common for a number of frivolous lawsuits to be filed in the days leading up to an election. He wouldn’t comment on whether Strickland’s lawsuit is frivolous.

In the court’s decision on Monday, it also said both parties have until tomorrow to show their respective sides of the original suit. A final hearing will be held at 11 a.m Tuesday.

No hearing has been scheduled for Strickland’s federal suit.

Here’s hoping the controversy ends with the Halloween hearing, and that Strickland’s vote counts.

Actually, he already voted.

On Oct. 20, Strickland took advantage of a new early voting rule and cast his ballot in Lisbon.

If the court decides he shouldn’t be allowed to vote, then it won’t be counted.

But if all goes well for him, Strickland could already be winning the election 1-0.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.