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Woman Files Protest Over County Charter Proposal

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The Ohio Secretary of State will now decide the fate of the Athens County charter proposal after a woman filed a protest against the petition Wednesday.

Joanne Prisley, along with attorney Michael Hollingsworth, alleges the charter is invalid on two counts. She claims the deadlines were missed by both the Athens County Board of Elections and the Athens County Commissioners and that the charter itself is flawed in its constitutionality, according to the document submitted to the board of elections.

Secretary of State John Husted has 10 days to decide whether or not the charter issue is valid based Prisley’s protest.

“She had to file a protest by the 97th day before the election, which was the 29th at four o’clock,” Deputy Elections Director Penny Brooks said Thursday. “The interpretation I have from Ms. Prisley is that the charter should be claimed invalid and should not appear on the ballot.”

The Athens County Charter, previously rejected by the Athens Board of Elections on July 9, would make it illegal to dispose of waste water from hydraulic fracturing in the county or use water from the county for the process. Prisley and Hollingsworth argue that the deadline for this certification was on July 6.

An appeal decision from Athens County Common Pleas Court Judge George McCarthy overturned the Board of Elections’ rejection.

That decision was certified by Athens County Commissioners last week. Prisley and her attorney argue the deadline for that decision was actually on July 15.

Prisley and Hollingsworth also argue that the charter’s requirements amount to zoning regulation, which cannot be determined through a county charter.

The Board of Elections has sent the protest to the Ohio Secretary of State and is awaiting a decision.