Hello Dear Circulators,
Tuesday, accompanied by Connie and three Ashtabula compatriots I went to Columbus to witness the petitions being turned in to the Secretary of State's office. We then joined all participants at a picnic. It was certainly worth attending, but it knocked me off my feet as witnessed by my sleeping the most of the next day (yesterday).
There is so much I could share but I want to be as brief as possible, which actually takes more work than just gabbing on. So I put off this letter until today. Since then much more info has appeared in my Inbox. So I'm getting this out now. Just ask if you have any questions.
Final tally: 546,250 The validity rate of 85% was extremely high as pronounced by someone who checks petition validity for a living.The last I heard Lake County's was 89%. Usual validity rate is 65%. I didn't write the statement he made but it was along the lines of never having seen that high a rate before. I add that it's particularly good because some potential invalids are beyond our control (people move, die, made a mistake, weren't honest, etc.) and we have been doing this for15 months.
I like a quote from Maurice Thompson, our legal eagle. "He credited hard-working volunteers who believe in their freedoms for the high validity rate. 'We’re not paying them in cigarettes or crack-cocaine,' Thompson said."
Now about the paid volunteers. The Ohio Project leadership decided to not take chances and in May hired a professional company to a) check the validity rate and b) commit to 100,000 sigs, They came up with105,000. These were collected in the counties that were doing poorly in numbers (Cuyahoga, Summit, Stark etc.)
While I frowned upon hearing this a few weeks ago, in the end I am glad they made that decision. However all of over 441,000 + sigs, which not only made the needed goal but also gave us a nice cushion, were by volunteers.
That same professional validity checker mentioned above said something (at the picnic I just wasn't in note taking mode) about us being in the top five, in the whole country, to gather that many sigs by an all volunteer force.
However the Ohio Democratic Party has jumped on the paid circulator piece in an attempt to discredit us. Instead of telling you what I think, I'll share parts of some of the emails I've received. (ignore mildly different figures in first one) Pay particular attention to the last one.
"Recently, we’ve blogged about YAL chapters in Ohio helping out with The Ohio Project, which is a grassroots ballot initiative to nullify the federal healthcare mandate in Ohio. 385,000 signatures had to be gathered for the initiative to appear on the ballot this fall. On Thursday, about 550,000 signatures were turned in to the secretary of state (440,000 by the Ohio Project, and another 110,000 by a paid effort, Ohioans for Healthcare Freedom).
Now, this might seem like the end of the story. However, following this event, theOhio Democrat Party sent out a press release addressing the initiative. Usually, I ignore messages sent out by the two parties, but this one was so hideous that I felt it had to be addressed.
The message from Seth Bringman, the ODP’s communication director, is below.
'After over a year of paying petition circulators and collecting a modest amount of signatures, the Tea Party is patting itself on the back today. What the Tea Party won't tell you is that they are fighting against something that was a Republican invention championed by that Party's presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney. Their initiative is a waste of time and taxpayer money, and it doesn't come close to passing constitutional muster.
'We are proud to have been a partner with We Are Ohio, which collected nearly 1.3 million signatures to protect worker rights and worker safety.
'It remains to be seen how many of the Tea Party's signatures are valid, given that they were collected over such a long period of time and so many of the signatures were collected by paid circulators rather than volunteers.'
Let’s go through this message line by line.
After over a year of paying petition circulators and collecting a modest amount of signatures, the Tea Party is patting itself on the back today.
First, no signatures gathered by the Ohio Project were paid for. Second, Ohioans for Healthcare Freedom, which did pay for signatures, was formed in May, not “over a year” ago. As the numbers above showed, the vast majority of signatures were from non-paid circulators.
What the Tea Party won't tell you is that they are fighting against something that was a Republican invention championed by that Party's presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney.
This line makes two mistakes. First, it assumes the Ohio tea party groups and the Republican Party are the same thing, which they are definitely not. Second, it assumes that tea partiers like Mitt Romney. I can honestly say I have never met a Romney supporting tea partier.
Their initiative is a waste of time and taxpayer money, and it doesn't come close to passing constitutional muster.
This statement is so ridiculous it almost makes your head hurt. It asserts that the initiative “doesn’t come close to passing constitutional muster”, but somehow a federal law which mandates citizens to buy a private product does? Where was this concern for constitutionality before? Also, letting Ohioans get the chance to actually vote on this law is “a waste of time”.
"We are proud to have been a partner with We Are Ohio, which collected nearly 1.3 million signatures to protect worker rights and worker safety.
The ODP is part of another ballot initiative this fall to repeal SB5, a law restricting the powers of public unions. However, they leave out that “We Are Ohio” also paid petitioners, and has not disclosed how many of their signatures were from actual volunteers.
"It remains to be seen how many of the Tea Party's signatures are valid, given that they were collected over such a long period of time and so many of the signatures were collected by paid circulators rather than volunteers."
Once again, this line just reiterates their nonsense. Internal audits have shown the Ohio Project signatures to be 80-90% valid, which is well above any estimated validity rate of their own SB5 initiative.
While I shouldn’t be surprised at the near flat-out lies from this statement, I thought it had to be addressed. The more these types of distortions are called out and publicized, the better."
"Not a big deal. It doesn't hurt us, its hurting them. There are a lot of people working this project that are democrats. They see these outright lies from their party leaders and start questioning everything the Party is saying. Keep talking Seth!"
"The campaign arm for us, Ohioans for Healthcare Freedom, raised funds to pay for 105,000 signatures in order to help cover invalid signatures. We aren't out of the woods on the signatures yet until the Sec. of State says we are on the ballot (expected by July 26th). We need to keep getting signatures in July while we wait for the signatures to be counted. If we are short on signatures, we have an additional 10 days after the SoS reports back our numbers to collect more signatures to make up for a deficiency."
"One thing I want everyone to keep in mind is that, yes, the volunteer signatures were consistently validating at percentages in the high 80s. But also understand and keep in mind that the paid signatures have a lower validity rate - around 70%. Our validity will also very likely decrease some once the Boards of Elections (BoEs) validate. Unlike the BoEs, we are unable to check the actual signature in our process, and the BoEs frankly won't do as good of a job as we do when we validate.
Do not expect an overall validity of the high 80s with the combined signatures and BoE validity checking factored in.
While we are all feeling very good about what we've turned in, let's not get too confident until the fat lady sings and we have the final certification from the Sec. of State (SoS). Keep getting signatures. It would be really nice to collect an additional 30,000 signatures across the state this month to help us get a head start, should we somehow be short on signatures when the SoS reports the results. We've come this far ... let's not take our eye off the ball now."
(from Lindy now)
There you have the latest. Thank you for the marvelous work. I hope to have a celebration just for us in the near future. We have done this together, and we will continue together because as referred to above, it ain't over 'til its over.
For life and liberty,