|News Media Update||OHIO||Newsgathering|
Elections board bans media after ballot shown
- The Muskingum County Board of Elections in Ohio banned all members of the media from voting precincts following a complaint from a voter whose ballot was shown close up on television.
March 4, 2004 — The Muskingum County Board of Elections in Ohio on Tuesday banned all members of the news media from county voting precincts after a voter complained earlier in the day that his filled-in ballot was shown on a TV news broadcast.
Martha Thomas, director of the county board of elections, said voters are entitled to cast their ballots in secret under Ohio law. The law also bans all members of the media from reporting within a voting precinct, but the law hasn’t been enforced because no one knew the details, Thomas said.
WHIZ-TV, a local television news station, filmed the ballot in Zanesville, Ohio. The marking on the ballot was clear, according to the Zanesville Times Recorder, and both the voter and his ballot were shown on WHIZ’s television station and Web site, whizamfmtv.com.
The voter, who was not identified by the station, complained to the Secretary of State’s office, who in turn complained to the board of elections. Thomas said Muskingum County has not received any complaints from the media regarding the ban.
George Hiotis, news director for WHIZ-TV, said his station will abide by the rules. He added his station and the board of elections have always had a good working relationship, and the ban does not prevent WHIZ-TV or other news outlets from getting voter reactions outside the voting precincts.
© 2004 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press