Applaud the Ohio Supreme Court for its spirit of inclusion, ordering Darrita Davis restored to the ballot in the Ward 10 race for the Akron City Council. The independent candidate had been tossed from the ballot by the Summit County Board of Elections. The board concluded that she had not really broken with the Democratic Party.
The court majority faulted the board for using just one piece of information to bounce Davis, her vote in the 2012 Democratic primary for president. The majority gave no weight to her small contributions to the campaign funds of two Democrats running in council primary races this year.
The majority created something of a Catch-22: A board cannot remove a candidate unless it establishes a substantial record of party participation yet that substantial record may not be decisive, the majority finding adequate in some cases a mere declaration of breaking from a party.
In that way, the dissenting justices had the better argument. They noted that Ohio does have a standard for elections boards to follow: “voting history, together with other facts tending to indicate party affiliation” sufficient to disqualify independent candidates. The record shows Davis also voted in Democratic primaries in 2008 and 2006.
The test is whether the elections board acted unreasonably or arbitrarily. The court thought so. Yet Davis clearly has participated as a Democrat. Hard to argue, thus, that the board was out of bounds in rejecting her declaration of independence as more convenient than anything else.