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Cranley may face reprimand for electioneering

Posted at 6:44 PM, Nov 12, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-12 18:44:45-05

CINCINNATI – Mayor John Cranley should be called before the Board of Elections and reprimanded for electioneering for the city parks amendment at a polling place on Election Day.

That's the view of the BOE vice-chairman – who happens to be the head of the local Republican Party - and the poll worker who blew the whistle on the mayor.

But Cranley and the BOE chairman, who happens to be the head of the local Democratic Party, expect a slap on the wrist and want the tempest to blow over.

Cranley apologized for what he called a mistake – visiting a polling place at the Urban League offices in Avondale and twice yelling "Vote yes on Issue 22."

"I was in and out of the poll quickly just to check on voter turnout, which everybody has a right to do," Cranley told WCPO. "I was engaged in conversations I shouldn't have been. It was an error in judgment and I won't do it again."

Poll worker Mary Siegel, one of the leaders of the Ohio Voter Integrity Project, filed a formal complaint with the Hamilton County Board of Elections.

READ Siegel's complaint here or below.

"I heard him say, 'Vote yes on Issue 22' out loud standing behind the table. Then, again. I was so taken back," Siegel said. "He was on his way out at the time and he yelled it again as he was walking out the door.

"That is complete electioneering and that is actually voter fraud because you are telling people how to vote their ballot. It's prohibited by Ohio law," she said.

Electioneering is prohibited in polling places and within 100 feet of the entrance (also, within 10 feet of voters waiting in line if the line extends past the 100 feet).

Cranley was the architect and chief spokesperson for Issue 22, which would have amended the city charter and created a permanent tax to fund the parks. The mayor made a TV commercial and also lobbied city leaders for support. But city voters defeated it 59 percent to 41 percent.

Siegel is pushing for a reprimand for the mayor and she may get her wish.

BOE vice-chairman Alex Triantafilou said Cranley will be called before the board.

"This kind of thing unfortunately happens too often in the polling locations, Tom," Triantafilou told WCPO.

But Triantafilou doesn't expect the board to hold the mayor's feet to the fire.

"As long as he helps us deliver the message in the community that this kind of behavior is inappropriate, I doubt there will be much of a hearing," Triantafilou said.

Board chairman Tim Burke told WCPO "there's got to be a way to stop this stupidity." He and Triantafilou may work on a letter to reprimand the mayor and the case will be closed.

Siegel's Ohio Voter Integrity Project examines voter rolls and challenges voters they believe are not valid. In a 2014 WCPO.com article, Siegel said her group had about 600 successful challenges in two years.

"We're all about election integrity - making sure everyone who votes is registered and qualified voters," Siegel was quoted as saying in a 2012 article.