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Prosecutor rules petitions are still valid

September 15, 2011

Auglaize County Prosecuting Attorney Ed Pierce

Two petitions questioned by the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office are to remain on the Auglaize County ballot in November.
A 0.8-mill school renewal levy for permanent improvements in Minster schools and a liquor option for Sunday sales for Layla Inc., JTs, in the Kroger plaza in St. Marys, were reviewed by Auglaize County Prosecuting Attorney Ed Pierce upon the state’s request and he recommended they stay on the ballot.
“These are not fatal flaws,” Pierce told the Election Board during Wednesday’s meeting. “There was no attempt to mislead anyone. We’re really elevating this to form over substance.
“We need and want to get these things before voters and not get held up on little things,” he said.
In the case of the Minster School levy renewal, Pierce said the district used more specific language than required by the wrong Ohio Revised Code referenced.
With the language used in this petition taken from the last renewal five years ago, it had been used in the same situation and voted on before by residents in the district. In reviewing renewal petitions filed by the district since 1976, a variety of different codes had been used, but all with the same basic language besides the code number.
“There was a typographical error,” Pierce said.
He said while the petition may have listed specific ways the money may be used, it was not found to be more comprehensive than the simple “general permanent improvements” referred to by the code.
“In looking at this and the general purpose of what the Secretary of State’s Office told us before, my recommendation is to go ahead and approve it,” Pierce told the Elections Board. “As the code is not put in the ballot, it just says more than it needs to, it does not change what the purpose is.”
He said the same error was approved by the Secretary of State’s Office and passed by the residents of Minster five years ago.
The liquor option, which deals with expanding an existing permit to include Sundays, also had some problems with language. While it already had been withdrawn previously and redone because of a mix up of words that were important to its meaning, Pierce said another error was found further down in the petition.
The language referred to the permit to sell alcohol for the rest of the week but did not specify that the business was already a holder of one. This time the mistake in language was not crucial to the petition’s approval.
“Once again, there was no attempt to mislead anyone and it doesn’t make a difference whether they were an applicant or holder of the permit,” Pierce said. “We do know they are a holder even though the word was left out. It’s up to voters to decide if they wish to allow Sunday sales.”

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