The people of East Liverpool, Ohio voted Tuesday on an anti-speed camera referendum, but those votes will not be counted — at least for now. Columbiana County Common Pleas Judge Scott A. Washam intervened in the election to prevent the public’s decision at the ballot box from being revealed. Residents of the notorious speed trap town have tried for more than a year to get their measure on the ballot only to be thwarted by legal challenges from city officials who want to save the lucrative program.
“Sadly the votes for our issue have been sealed and won’t be released until Judge Washam rules on the lawsuit filed by the city of East Liverpool against us and the Board of Elections,” East Liverpool Citizens Against Traffic Cameras said in a statement. “This all could have been avoided had city officials simply allowed us to vote, but, regardless, this is the reality of the situation.”
The group expects a ruling on whether the votes will or will not be counted by early December. Courts around the country have intervened on occasion to stop elections and save the use of automated ticketing machines, but none have ever gone so far as to nullify votes once cast (view a list of the 42 photo enforcement ballot contests around the country). East Liverpool officials insist the initiative is invalid, claiming it is untimely. Law Director Charles L. Payne asked the judge to issue a permanent order ensuring the ballots are never counted.