State Dems to Polivka: Petition for change or resign - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

State Dems to Polivka: Petition for change or resign

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -

Trumbull County Democratic Party Chairman Dan Polivka's staunch position on allowing his party to live by it's own rules, has been met by an equally staunch position from state and national Democrats.

A message from Ohio Democratic Party Secretary Bill Demora was released Tuesday afternoon saying, "The chairman of the Trumbull County Democratic Party has two options; either he petitions the DNC to change its rules, or he can resign if he cannot enforce them."

The message is in response to a news conference held by Polivka earlier in the day reacting to State Chairman Chris Redfern insisting that Trumbull Democrats abolish the secret ballot and hold another open vote on the appointment of Mauro Cantalamessa to fill the unexpired term of late county commissioner Paul Heltzel.

 Polivka says as chairman he is obligated to follow the local party's constitution which explicitly calls for a secret ballot.

"The insistence of denying Democrats a secret ballot is a ploy to hold precinct committee men and women captive to the whims of the chair and party leadership and under my leadership I'll not have it," Polivka said.

Trumbull Democrats recently voted on whether to eliminate the secret ballot provision.

"They now have a chance to vote to go back, which is what the state wanted, but 98% said no, we're going to stay the way we are, we feel freer to vote our conscience," said former Trumbull County Commissioner, Anthony LaTell.

Polivka says he serves the local party membership and will defend to the very end their right to a secret ballot and challenges Redfern to "take your best shot."

"I didn't pick this fight, but I won't be intimidated or bullied by this guy in Columbus," Polivka said.

The Ohio Democratic Party received a letter from the Democratic National Committee regarding the secret ballots. 

The letter from DNC Party Affairs and Delegate Selection Director Patrice Taylor notes that when the Charter of the Democratic Party of the United States was adopted in 1974, it included a requirement for open meetings and a prohibition against secret ballots.

Taylor writes that as questions have arisen concerning this provision against secret ballots, the DNC and its committees have determined that this requirement was intended to apply to any Party meeting -- including state and local central committees meetings, and state conventions.

She says that secret ballots are prohibited in any situation where the individual voting has been elected and is acting in a representative capacity.  Taylor says the requirement is in place so that his or her "constituents" will be able to know and understand how their representative voted on their behalf.

The rule does not apply to primary or caucus where the voters cast ballots in their capacity as registered voters. Taylor cites the example of an individual who voted in Ohio’s March 2012 primary election and cast a secret ballot.  Taylor says that other than that exception, under Democratic Party rules, secret ballots are prohibited.

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