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Latina abogada challenges Board of Elections for removing her name from the May 2 ballot for using her name of Martínez


Cleveland: On March 13th, responding to a protest filed by Lakewood attorney Henry Hilow, attorney Jennifer Martínez, along with her attorney, Santiago Feliciano, appeared before the Board of Elections to defend her right to run for Juvenile Court Judge, using her maiden name of Martínez.


The Board found the Martínez petitions to be invalid, ordering that her name be removed from the May 2nd ballot.


Jennifer Martinez

The Board deemed the Hilow protest, which was filed after the protest deadline of 4:00PM, to be timely filed because “it was in the building.”  According to Martínez, ORC section 3513.05 makes it clear that the filing deadline was by 4:00PM. The protest is file-stamped 4:32PM


The Board admitted that despite the fact that its own staff had given attorney Martínez incorrect instructions to file a change-of-name voter registration card along with the filing of her petitions—her name of Martínez was deemed not valid on the petitions.


Attorney Martínez informed La Prensa that she has requested a writ of mandamus with Ohio’s 8th District Court of Appeals, seeking to have the appellate court order the Board to put her name back on the ballot. The Board had until March 21 to respond.


Martínez, who has been a Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Juvenile Court Public Defender for 6 years, believes that the Board blatantly disregarded statutory requirements, as well as applicable case law. Martínez has never legally changed her name to Atzberger, which is the last name of her husband, Craig Atzberger. 


Martínez argued that she has used both her maiden name of Martínez and her married name of Martínez Atzberger since her marriage in 1996. The Board failed to make any ruling regarding relevant case law as it applied to Martínez and the use of the surname Martínez on her petitions.


Martínez states, “I am confident that the Court of Appeals will see past the petty politics of this protest, and require that the law be followed in this matter. I chose to use my maiden name because I believe that it is my legal name and I am proud of my heritage. 


“I am a person who is qualified to run for the position that I am seeking, and I shouldn’t be excluded from the democratic process because I am a married woman who chose to use her maiden name. 


“The law permits me to do so, and so should the Board of Elections.  Frankly, I think this is an issue of gender discrimination,” added Martínez.





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