Democratic Attorney General Candidate Steve Dettelbach


Radical Leanings II of II- Social Justice Warriors Muck Up Elections

Logic is Defied, The Majority Be Damned – Everyone Votes a Spanish Ballot

By John Corrigan


(CLEVELAND) The Obama Administration’s Justice Department representative in Ohio, U.S. Attorney Steve Dettelbach, sought to force the state’s then largest county to print its ballots in two languages.


It was August of 2010 and just days before Boards of Elections in Ohio had a deadline to print ballots to meet the early voting deadline. The radical plan, a departure from a law passed in 1975 known as Amendments to the Civil Rights Act of 1965, stated that Americans who had been educated in American flag schools in Guam and Puerto Rico, had the right to vote a ballot that was in Spanish and English. Outside pressure was applied to force Cuyahoga County to adopt these measures in defiance of the actual law and of local governance of elections.


By August of 2010 the staff of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, Jane Platten as the Democratic Director and Pat McDonald as the Republican Deputy Director was in place and functioning after years of chaos preceded them.  Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner had removed the entire Board and staff in 2007 after a series of missteps that called into question the integrity of the elections process and Cuyahoga County’s competence.  Platten and McDonald had made major reforms to Board practice and ran smooth elections.


The Board, since 2006, had known of the provisions of the Voting Rights Act, and had worked with local advocacy groups to educate English as a second language to voters largely concentrated among Spanish, Russian, and Chinese communities.  The Board employed an Outreach Department who helped Latino voters to understand how to vote and participate in the election process and the Justice Department had monitored the 2006 and 2008 elections in the county.


Cuyahoga County is the most diverse county in Ohio, with native speakers of over 100 languages. During the great immigration waves of the 20th Century, non-English speakers made up a majority of the county. Those groups never clamored for ballots in Hungarian, Polish, Italian, or Russian. The election process was fairly straightforward and ethnic communities worked with non-English speakers to identify how to vote for the candidates and issues of their choice in the English language.


All that changed in August of 2010 with the surprise threat to sue Cuyahoga County by Dettelbach if Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act was not immediately implemented. The Board sought to cooperate with the Justice Department to the extent that any public agency that is about to be sued would. The Board conducted research on the new standard of "Spanish" sounding surnames and found several dozen precincts in the City of Cleveland and a few inner ring suburbs that qualified for Spanish ballots under the new legal interpretation. 

DNC Chairman Tom Perez and Steve Dettelbach announcing litigation against the City of Cleveland in 2013. Photo courtesy of Cleveland Scene


The Board’s reasoned response was to print ballots in those precincts where the Hispanic surnames exceeded 5%. The Board’s research had found that in just 78 of Cuyahoga County’s 1,069 precincts (.07%), 6,000 voters may have been educated overseas and lack full English proficiency and thus these precincts could qualify for a bilingual ballot in these jurisdictions.  This would allow full compliance with the law and minimal cost to the taxpayer. Representing the County, was its lawyer, then County Prosecutor Bill Mason, himself a second generation American of Irish and Ukrainian descent. Dettelbach entered into negotiations with the Board on behalf of the U.S. Government threatening to sue the county.


Dettelbach rejected the Board’s approach.  He said that nothing less than the entire Cuyahoga County ballot being bilingual would be acceptable. 

Countywide, all signs and voter information are in English and Spanish in Cuyahoga County, photo courtesy of Vocero Latino newspaper.


One of the Board’s Republican representatives, County GOP Chairman Rob Frost, balked at that, stating that there were not 10,000 people in Cuyahoga County who had been educated in Guam or Puerto Rico nor was 5% of Cuyahoga County’s nearly one- million registered voters. The 2000 Census showed 30,000 people of Puerto Rican descent living in the county, but no efforts were undertaken to find out if they were born in Ohio, where they may have been educated, etc.  With the deadline to print ballots looming, several compromises were attempted to be reached at the Board, with Republicans and Democrats tying at 2-2 in the hopes of a compromise to avoid the Justice Department lawsuit.  The Board had already voted to allow for bilingual interpreters to be placed at polling locations to assist any voter who was confused by voting in English. But, that was not enough for Dettelbach.


Katherine Culliton-Gonzalez, an Obama Justice Department attorney, offered this insight into the perspective of the Obama Administration.  Gonzalez was the author of an article in a February 2009 law journal, arguing Section 203 of the Civil Rights Act of 1965 as amended in 1975, should be used to protect the rights of more than one-million Puerto Ricans living in the Unites States.  She argued the provision should be used as a tool to protect against the growing tide of discrimination against Latinos in the post-September 11, 2001 era. Stating that "Latino voting rights are under siege." It should be noted that the terrorist attacks on that day, and the subsequent Global War on Terror, were not perpetrated by Puerto Ricans, but rather of Islamic extremists in Middle Eastern countries, none of whom speak Spanish. It does offer a window into the mind of the Obama Justice Department’s thinking.


With the deadline to print ballots looming, and the local Board of Elections in a partisan deadlock as to how to resolve the potential litigation, on September 1, 2010, Dettelbach’s demands were accepted by the Board.  This allowed all countywide bilingual ballots for every voter of the county in subsequent elections and in the 70 precincts in 2010, regardless of their ethnicity, where they were educated, or proficiency in the Spanish language.


The Board had no choice but to comply. The Justice Department sent out a statement that included this quote by Tom Perez, who is now the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, who worked for Attorney General Eric Holder at the time “The right to vote is the foundation of our democracy,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.  “Today’s agreement requiring bilingual ballots will ensure that Spanish-speaking voters receive the help they need to cast their votes effectively, with complete understanding of the ballot.” 


Dettelbach chimed in with this statement: “I’d like to thank those officials in Cuyahoga County whose dedication and commitment to voting rights has made this resolution possible, protecting the voting rights of our citizens is part of the core mission of the Department of Justice as well as this U.S. Attorney’s Office.”


All of this activism comes at a cost to the taxpayer. Election ballot printing now costs over $400,000 in Cuyahoga County, double the pre-Dettelbach deal cost. Another $100,000 annually to hire bilingual poll workers to assist voters drives up the cost to half a million dollars for every election, one million dollars out of the taxpayer’s pockets every even numbered year. Municipalities with zero Latino voters have to struggle through a massive ballot and the local Board of Elections receives hundreds of phone calls about voter confusion due to the size of the ballot, with even more ballots being tossed out every election because of duplicate voting on the Spanish and English ballot due to voter confusion.


Dettelbach resigned as U.S. Attorney after 7 years in the Obama Administration and is currently the Democratic nominee for Ohio Attorney General.


2018 Democratic SOS nominee State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) embraces much of the liberal agenda on having little to no protections for voter fraud, including stating that Ohio’s boards of elections should count the attempted votes of people who are not registered to vote, as she told a Federal panel on April 9th of this year. She has not weighed in on bilingual ballots as of this writing.


Eric Holder has announced that he is contemplating seeking the 2020 Democratic nomination for President.


Voters pay a price for the radical leanings of elected and appointed officials. In this case, a moderate approach would have been to accurately find out how many actual voters were educated abroad and to reasonably enforce federal voting rights law. But that is not how the Obama Administration and their radical allies played the game. The average cost of $750,000 to Cuyahoga County residents is spent on bilingual election ballots and booth officials. Cuyahoga County has the highest sales and property taxes in Ohio and the highest incidents of poverty.  Perhaps those dollars would have been better spent supporting the community rather than purchasing Spanish ballots. Before Dettelbach, very few people ever complained about not being able to vote due to ballots being in English, but now the entire county has to vote in Spanish and English.


Y así continua, and so it goes, when social justice warriors like Steve Dettelbach set public policy in defiance of the concept of majority rule.



Check out Part I Radical Leanings I of II - How Steve Dettelbach Forced Bilingual Ballots on Millions of Ohioans.