Companies, nonprofits and unions wouldn’t have to disclose when they pay for an election advertisement, and corporations with state contracts would be allowed to spend money on elections, under a provision that passed the Ohio House Wednesday. The provision would void a rule implemented by former Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner that governs election spending by corporations, nonprofits and labor unions. The rule requires the groups to disclose when they spend money to advocate for or against the election of a candidate, both through a statement included in the ad and through a form filed with the secretary of state’s office. But Republicans’ main issue with the rule, a spokesman said, is its prohibition of election-related spending by corporations with state or federal government contracts within one year of their receiving money from the government. They also wanted to void the part of the rule that prohibits spending in elections by corporations with more than 20 percent ownership by non-U.S. citizens or corporations based outside the U.S.
Articles about voting issues in Ohio.
Ohio: Cuyahoga County Council gives final approval to Ed FitzGerald’s ‘voting rights law’ | Cleveland Plain Dealer
Cuyahoga County Council voted along party lines Tuesday night to assert the county’s right to mail unsolicited absentee ballot applications, despite a new state law that forbids the county from doing so. Identical to a preliminary committee vote last week, eight council Democrats voted to approve County Executive Ed FitzGerald’s “voting rights law,” with council’s three Republican members dissenting. The ordinance says the county will mail postage prepaid voting applications to county voters as necessary. FitzGerald, a Democrat who is running for governor, said the county would only do so if the state doesn’t. Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted has said he will mail the applications statewide before the upcoming November election, but any future mailings would require approval from the state legislature.
Ohio: Secretary of State Jon Husted sees ‘no reason’ for lawmakers to punish Cuyahoga County for ballot mailers | Cleveland Plain Dealer
Secretary of State Jon Husted on Tuesday criticized his Republican colleagues in the legislature for threatening to slash state funding to Cuyahoga County if the county proceeds with plans to mail absentee ballot applications to voters. At the same time, Husted said that there’s no reason for Cuyahoga County to mail absentee ballot applications to all county voters, as his office is already planning to do that statewide this fall. “It’s time for everybody to take a deep breath and act like reasonable adults,” Husted said in an interview Tuesday.
Ohio Republicans have backed down on an effort to penalize the state’s largest county for sending out absentee ballots. But the escalating battle over voting rights in the nation’s most pivotal swing state shows no sign of subsiding—with one top Democrat calling for a federal probe of GOP voter suppression. A spokesman for House Republicans said Tuesday afternoon that the GOP would drop a measure that would have cut funding by 10% for any county that doesn’t follow state law regarding absentee ballots. The proposal, inserted Monday into a larger budget bill, was a direct shot at the state’s largest county, Cuyahoga, which has asserted the right to mail absentee ballots to all registered voters—in defiance of a recently passed state law barring counties from doing so. Hours later, the Cuyahoga council voted to assert its “home rule” power, giving it the authority to send absentee ballots to all registered voters in the county.
State Auditor Dave Yost’s comments about the possibility of getting into Cuyahoga County officials’ pocketbooks should increase the odds of a federal probe of voting in Ohio, the county’s law director says. “Going after the personal finances of public officials for trying to promote voter participation is unprecedented,” said Majeed G. Makhlouf. “I think we expect the Department of Justice to take the threat to voting rights pretty seriously.” At issue is a new law passed by the GOP-controlled state legislature and signed by Republican Gov. John Kasich saying that the secretary of state’s office is the only government agency that can send out absentee ballot applications.
After a day of controversy, House Republicans decided to pull a measure aimed at Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald that would have cut local government funding to any county mailing absentee ballot applications. House GOP spokesman Mike Dittoe explained the move by saying, “State Auditor Dave Yost, through a letter issued in August 2011 that surfaced today, contends that he already has such authority to issue findings of recovery to county officials who may be in violation of the law for this practice.” However, FitzGerald and Cuyahoga County Council defied state officials this evening by voting 8 to 3 to OK the mailing of absentee ballot applications to all Cuyahoga County voters. “Tonight, we sent a clear message to Columbus – Cuyahoga County will not be intimidated when it comes to protecting the right to vote,” said FitzGerald in a statement. “This fight is just getting started, and I am looking forward to continuing to work with the members of our County Council to stand up to anyone who wants to suppress the vote in Ohio.”
Ohio: Ed FitzGerald’s ‘voting rights’ legislation clears Cuyahoga council committee; Republicans dissent | Cleveland Plain Dealer
A Cuyahoga County Council committee voted along party lines Tuesday to advance “voter rights” legislation that conflicts with a new state law, a move which takes the county closer to what Republican council members said could end up being a costly legal fight. The eight Democrats on council’s committee of the whole – which is made up of all 11 council members — voted to move forward with legislation introduced last month by county Executive Ed FitzGerald, a fellow Democrat, while the council’s three Republicans dissented. The move indicates council is poised to approve the legislation, which would assert the county’s right to mail out unsolicited early voting applications and addressed envelopes with pre-paid postage to all its registered voters, at an upcoming meeting. The legislation is a response to a new state law, passed by Republicans in Columbus in February, that forbids counties from mailing out the applications. The new law allows the Ohio Secretary of State to send them out, statewide, if lawmakers appropriate money to pay for it — Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted says he plans to do so this November. Republicans say the new law promotes voting equality across all Ohio’s 88 counties.
Ohio Solicitor Eric Murphy Wednesday urged the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold a lower court ruling that two independent organizations from Cincinnati failed to show they have been harmed by a state election law that prohibits making false statements with malice. In an unusual legal twist, Murphy finds himself on the opposite side of the same case with his boss, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, who earlier this month filed a separate brief with the justices declaring that the Ohio law violates the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech. The justices in January agreed to accept the election law cases from Ohio, but it is unclear whether the court wants to rule on whether the law violates the Constitution instead of more narrowly concluding that the organizations could not demonstrate they faced prosecution.
Ohio: Savings for proposed online voting registration may not reach expectations from Husted, legislators | Cleveland Plain Dealer
Supporters of two stalled bills in the Ohio General Assembly say online voting registration could save hundreds of thousands of dollars statewide each year. A roundup of estimates gathered by the Northeast Ohio Media Group show that those projections may overstate savings for county boards of elections. In four states that already have online registration, relatively small participation rates may be keeping significant savings at bay.
An August trial date has been set in a dispute over early voting in Ohio that goes back to the last presidential election. President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign and Democrats filed a lawsuit in July 2012 against the state’s elections chief over an Ohio law that cuts off in-person, early voting for most residents three days before Election Day. The two sides have been unable to resolve the litigation. This week, a federal court in Columbus set an Aug. 19 trial date.