East Liverpool Citizens against Traffic Cameras is a group that has been trying to get a “ban on red-light cameras” measure on the local ballot for a few years. In 2017, City Auditor Marilyn Bosco blocked the group’s proposed referendum by refusing to certify it even though there were enough valid signatures on the petition. This is a common tactic by local municipalities who don’t want voter-initiated referendums. East Liverpool, with a population of just 10,700, collected $1 million from its ticket cameras in 2018.
County Judge C. Ashley Pike then ordered the auditor to certify the measure. More city court filings ensued, and finally, in August 2019, Bosco certified the group’s anti-camera petition with a caveat—she had the right to revoke the certification if the state Court of Appeals rejected Judge Pike’s ruling. The state court quickly rejected the city’s argument. State law does not allow a city auditor to revoke a certified petition.
The court ruling allowed East Liverpool residents to vote on the initiative November 5, 2019. If voters agreed to the ban, future city councils would be prohibited from installing ticket cameras without the prior consent of the people. They did so overwhelmingly. Seventy-two percent of East Liverpool voters rejected the city’s use of speed and red-light cameras.
Still, officials didn’t want to give up photo ticket revenue. Just prior to election day, the city convinced Columbiana County Common Pleas Judge Scott Washam to temporarily block the public from learning the results of the vote. Its lawyers asked the judge to permanently enjoin the measure’s votes from being counted and certified by the board of elections.
In late November, Judge Washam rejected the city of East Liverpool’s attempt to invalidate the public vote on technical grounds, and the votes were counted. East Liverpool joins Ohio voters in Ashtabula, Cleveland, Chillicothe, Heath, Garfield Heights, Maple Heights, South Euclid, and Steubenville in rejecting the use of ticket cameras.
Nationwide, citizens in 39 cities have voted to prohibit the use of photo enforcement when given the opportunity.
Congratulations to the East Liverpool Citizens against Traffic Cameras on a successful, hard-fought effort! Local groups like this play a key role in combating the scourge of automated ticketing programs.
Beginning January 13th, the ATE Racket Report blog name will change to Ticket Cam Alert USA. We encourage you to read this blog every Monday to learn what is happening with photo enforcement around the United States and in Canada. Also, if you are conducting a fight on the local level, we encourage you to check out the NMA Facebook Page Ticket Cam Alert USA and participate in the related Ticket Cam USA Discussion Group.