Ohio

Articles about voting issues in Ohio.

Ohio: Legislature Advances Controversial Bill That Could Deter Students From Voting | Huffington Post

Ohio’s Republican-controlled Senate passed a transportation budget Wednesday containing a controversial provision that critics say could dissuade college students from voting. The amendment to the budget, which was added at the last minute by a Senate committee, would require out-of-state students who register to vote from their campus address to register their cars in Ohio within 30 days and obtain state driver’s licenses. Completing both of those steps would cost over $75. If the more than 116,000 out-of-state students who attend Ohio’s public and private colleges and universities fail to do so, their out-of-state licenses would become invalid and they could face misdemeanor charges. Current law has allowed new Ohioans to claim residency and vote while keeping their out-of-state licenses and registrations because the state hasn’t specified a deadline for obtaining documentation. Read More


Ohio: Voter suppression likely result of auto registration provision in transportation budget, legislator says | Cleveland Plain Dealer

A Democratic state representative and advocate for voting rights says a last-minute addition to the state transportation budget would effectively suppress voting by students at Ohio’s colleges and universities. But a spokesman for Senate Republicans, who inserted the provision into the budget bill, defended it as merely regulating vehicle registration laws. The provision would require people who come into Ohio and register to vote to re-register their vehicles with Ohio after 30 days. If they fail to register the car with Ohio, then their driving privileges under their out-of-state license for any vehicle would be suspended and they would have to obtain an Ohio license to drive. Read More

Ohio: GOP defends tying driver’s license to voting | The Columbus Dispatch

Dismissing Democrats’ cries of voter suppression, majority legislative Republicans are poised to require those who register to vote in Ohio to also obtain state driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations. The measure is part of the state transportation budget approved Tuesday by a House-Senate conference committee and headed to possible floor votes in each chamber Wednesday. Democrats tried to remove the provision, saying it constitutes a “poll tax” on out-of-state college students, who would have to spend $75 or more on license and registration fees within 30 days of registering to vote. Rep. Alicia Reece, D-Cincinnati, voted against the transportation budget on Tuesday, she said, because her caucus had a host of concerns about the provision. Read More

Ohio: Federal judge upholds tighter ballot access rules for Ohio’s minor political parties | Cleveland Plain Dealer

A federal judge ruled Monday that stiffer rules for minor parties to gain access to Ohio’s ballot are constitutional and do not impose an unfair burden on the parties. District Judge Michael Watson ruled that the changes to state law, approved in 2013, were not overly burdensome toward minority parties forming or electors casting votes for their candidates. And, Watson held, the state of Ohio has legitimate and important interests that the law addresses. “It is rational for the state of Ohio to limit minor parties’ participation in primary elections because minor party primaries are typically uncontested, voter turnout is low, and the additional costs of adding uncontested minor party candidates to a primary ballot is unwarranted,” Watson wrote. Read More

Ohio: Judge finds Husted liable for enforcing unconstitutional law | The Columbus Dispatch

Must public officials assess a new law to determine whether it’s constitutional before carrying it out? That’s the upshot of a federal-court ruling Monday declaring Secretary of State Jon Husted liable for enforcing a law passed by the Ohio General Assembly that later was declared unconstitutional. At issue was a 2013 measure — Senate Bill 47 — declaring that circulators of initiative petitions must be Ohio residents. Judge Michael Watson of U.S. District Court in Columbus said that even if Husted assumed the law were constitutional, “a reasonable official would have understood that enforcement of the residency requirement would violate plaintiffs’ First Amendment right to engage in political speech despite the presumptive validity of the statute.” Read More

Ohio: Future elections may return to paper | The Columbus Dispatch

Aging voting machines have been a concern for election officials. Secretary of State Job Husted estimates it would cost $200 million to replace all the machines in the state, but the federal money that paid for them about a decade ago is gone. While there does not appear to be a crisis on the horizon, Assistant Public Affairs Editor Michelle Everhart notes that Husted expects isolated problems will occur. So what is the solution? Husted said punch-card ballots are the most cost-effective system for running elections, but those are illegal now. Then there is voting by mail only, which Oregon does, but Husted said, “We in Ohio seem to be wed to an all-of-the-above strategy, and there is a cost to that.” Read More

Ohio: Rob Portman says Voting Rights Act should get congressional review | Cleveland Plain Dealer

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman said today that Congress should review the entire Voting Rights Act to evaluate how it is working. But he added that he doesn’t know if parts of it need to be strengthened. This comes after the Ohio Republican was criticized by Democrats for demurring last weekend on whether he supports a House bill to deal with a key section of the act that the Supreme Court struck down in 2013. Portman was asked about new legislation, which civil rights leaders say is necessary, while he was in Selma, Alabama, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the civil rights struggle that helped pass the act. His answer upset some liberal groups and Democrats. He said in Selma, “I haven’t looked at it. Is there a Senate version?” Read More

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Ohio: Jon Husted seeks $1.2 million to mail absentee ballot applications statewide in 2016 | cleveland.com

Secretary of State Jon Husted plans to request state money to send absentee ballot applications to Ohio voters for next year’s presidential election, continuing a practice voter advocates worry will end now that lawmakers hold the purse strings. A state law enacted last year prohibits county boards of election from sending unsolicited absentee ballot requests but allows the secretary of state to do so if the General Assembly pays for it. Read More

Ohio: Redistricting reform for Ohio congressional maps proposed by House Democrats | Cleveland Plain Dealer

A pair of House Democrats announced Thursday a plan to change how Ohio draws its congressional districts, but a similar plan lacked support last year in the Republican-led legislature. The proposal, introduced by Reps. Kathleen Clyde of Kent and Mike Curtin of Marble Cliff, resembles one that the Republican-led General Assembly approved last year for drawing Statehouse districts. That plan goes before voters in November. … Clyde and Curtin’s plan has no Republican co-sponsors. Currently, congressional lines are drawn every 10 years by a committee of lawmakers and approved by the General Assembly. The setup allows the party in power — Republicans in 2011 — to draw lines and approve maps without minority-party input. Republicans hold 12 of Ohio’s 16 congressional seats yet only won 55 percent of the votes in recent congressional elections statewide.

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Ohio: Online voter registration would save money, reduce errors, Ohio officials say | Cleveland Plain Dealer

Ohioans would be able to register to vote online under legislation being considered at the Ohio Statehouse. Sen. Frank LaRose, a Copley Republican, introduced a bill Wednesday requiring the secretary of state to set up an online voter registration system as an option to filling out paper forms. LaRose’s bill has Republican and Democratic cosponsors. Similar legislation was introduced last week in the House by Rep. Michael Stinziano, a Columbus Democrat. LaRose and Stinziano introduced online registration bills last year. “Online voter registration will improve the accuracy of our voter records, reduce the potential for fraud and protect voter privacy, all while reducing costs to the taxpayer,” LaRose said in a statement. “Most importantly, online registration will be more convenient for Ohio’s citizens, thus increasing citizens’ access to the ballot box, which is a victory for good government and a victory for democracy.” Read More