CANFIELD, Ohio (WKBN) – (WKBN) – Signs at one local polling location are drawing controversy.
The signs about Ohio Issue 1 appeared at St. Michael Parish Family Center in Canfield. It targets voters and the abortion issue.
The sign says 68% of Catholics are pro-choice. It also states the sign is paid for by the Mahoning County Democratic Party.
Father John-Michael Lavelle said the Family Life Center has served as a polling place for several years, and that the board of election allows political parties to put up signs on election day, but says that signs targeting the Catholic population “is a bridge too far.”
“I went to mass this morning and I knew that I was going to field questions. There were some women who were very upset, one near tears. ‘I’m not overreacting,’ she said. ‘I was in tears when I drove onto the property and saw that,'” Lavelle said. “To give the idea that the Catholic church supports this or that a large number of Catholics support this– we really felt this was out of step, whether we allowed a candidate’s name or Yes or No on an issue.”
Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman Chris Anderson said the signs don’t break any laws.
“They are properly disclaimed. They are not just at Catholic polling spots either. They are up at Highway Tabernacle in Austintown, and they are up at public polling places,” Anderson said. “We didn’t go out of our way to exclusively place them at Catholic churches. Outside of that, it’s not like they are just targeting on parish or anything along those lines.”
Political signs on both sides of an issue are allowed at polling places.
Lavelle issued a statement earlier Tuesday about the signs:
“The placement of signs by a political party that specifically target the Catholic population is quite frankly a bridge too far, especially because the Church is always non-partisan, even when we take a position on issues like Issue One. In all honesty, we would need to reflect on our ability to continue as a polling place in the future given the current requirements. We desire to be collaborative community members but also seek respect of our Catholic values,” Lavelle wrote.
Bishop David Bonnar echoed Lavelle’s thoughts.
“Obviously, some of the signs that have been placed at polling sites do not represent the Catholic Church in Ohio’s position on Issue One. It is well-known that the Catholic Church in Ohio has taken a strong position against Issue One, and consistently promotes the sanctity of life.,” Bonnar wrote.