Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted cast a vote for himself Wednesday. The state’s chief elections officer broke a tie vote at the Hamilton County Board of Elections over whether to hang a poster bearing his name in all of the county’s polling places. Husted and fellow Republicans say the poster, which features a drawing by a fifth grader from Jackson, Ohio, is harmless and informational because it encourages people to “exercise your right to vote.” It also, however, prominently features Husted’s name in white letters against a blue backdrop stripped across the top. And that, Democrats say, is unfair in an election year when Husted is running for office against Democrat Nina Turner. They say the poster essentially is a campaign ad for Husted, and no one else is allowed to bring buttons, posters, bumper stickers or other campaign material into polling places.
Articles about voting issues in Ohio.
You may be proud to cast your votes for particular candidates in Ohio — so proud, in fact, that you decide to take a picture of your ballot and post it on social media before mailing it in. Congratulations, you likely just committed a felony. Under Ohio laws written before anyone ever heard of Facebook and when tweets were associated only with birds, it is illegal to show off how you voted by revealing your completed ballot to someone else. The law says it is a fifth-degree felony for a voter to “allow the elector’s ballot to be seen by another … with the apparent intention of letting it be known how the elector is about to vote.” Another section of law prohibits displaying a marked ballot while in the polling place. “The idea behind it was to keep people from selling their votes,” said Rep. Mike Duffey, R-Worthington. “I think it’s a violation of free speech.”
In the 2012 elections, a Redistricting Amendment to the Ohio Constitution was put on the ballot. Known as Issue 2, the amendment would have created a commission of twelve citizens to draw legislative and congressional maps. The amendment was defeated at the ballot box by a resounding 63% against and 37% for the amendment. To many, partisan redistricting is only a polite way of saying gerrymandering, and this very process of the state legislature choosing who will essentially elect them is provided for in the Ohio Constitution. In fact, the Secretary of State of Ohio, John Husted, wrote in the Washington Post this February, “[I]f government is to be more responsive, it is not the people but the Ohio Constitution that needs to change.” However, it may very well be the case that John Husted was the reason for Issue 2 failing at the ballot box. In 2012 I was an undergraduate student at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. I received my absentee ballot in the mail and started working my way through it. After wondering to myself “Why in the world am I electing members of the Judiciary?” I reached the part of the ballot pertaining to Issues. The first, Ohio’s twenty year option to hold a constitutional convention to “revise, alter, or amend the constitution,” and after that a two column monstrosity of an issue that made me cringe. I must confess, I voted against it. I thought it looked too complicated and surely there could be an easier way to redistrict.
Anyone who votes in Lucas County knows that there’s a limit to how far the computer revolution has invaded the election process. At each of the approximately 350 precinct locations, poll workers flip through paper binders to locate a voter’s name, and then the voter signs his or her name in that book. After the election, those binders then go back to the Lucas County Board of Elections office to be audited, page by page, to verify who voted and who didn’t. While that time-honored process is not going to change in time for the Nov. 4 election, the Lucas County Board of Elections would like to replace the old paper and pen method with computerized tablets at least in time for the 2016 presidential election.
Early voting began Tuesday morning in Ohio after the U.S. Supreme Court stepped into a dispute over the schedule, pushing the start date back a week in the swing state. Voters will pick the next governor along with other statewide officeholders on Nov. 4. Residents also will decide a number of legislative races and the outcome of more than 1,600 local issues. Ohioans can cast an absentee ballot by mail or in person. The start of early voting had shifted amid a lawsuit over two election-related measures.
Attorney General Eric Holder criticized the Supreme Court Monday for leaving in place a law shortening the early voting period in Ohio, calling the decision “a major step backward.” The broadside from Mr. Holder, delivered in a video posted on the Justice Department website, comes at a key moment in the political and legal battles surrounding this year’s congressional elections. Under the new schedule, early voting in Ohio for Congress, governor, and state legislators begins Tuesday. The Supreme Court could also soon decide whether voting laws in North Carolina and Wisconsin will go into effect for the election next month. The Justice Department is challenging those laws, as well as voting laws in Texas.
Election Day is so 2007. Welcome to the start of Election Month in Ohio. “Just sitting back and waiting for people to turn out on Election Day is a fool’s errand,” said Matt Borges, chairman of the Ohio Republican Party. With the growing popularity of casting ballots ahead of time, the fate of statewide elections, county races and local issues will be decided beginning Tuesday at early-voting centers across the Buckeye State — four weeks before polls open on Election Day, Nov. 4. Borges said he expects 11 percent of this year’s turnout to come in the first week of early voting. “I think what it does is it just moves everything up,” said Lauren Hitt, spokeswoman for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald.
e Supreme Court ordered a halt Monday to early voting in Ohio that was scheduled to begin this week, clearing the way for the state to close polls on the Sunday before election day, when African American turnout has been heaviest. The emergency order, approved 5 to 4, is a victory for Ohio Republicans and a setback for civil rights lawyers who had challenged a law that shortened the early-voting period by about a week. Several other election-year disputes could reach the high court before November. Wisconsin, Texas and North Carolina also face pending court challenges to Republican-sponsored voting restrictions that take effect this year. Ohio had adopted one of the nation’s most generous early-voting policies after what was widely considered to be an election day debacle in 2004, when voters waited hours in long lines to cast ballots and many cities did not have enough voting machines to accommodate the turnout.
The Supreme Court on Monday blocked an appeals court ruling that would have restored seven days of early voting in Ohio. The Supreme Court’s order was three sentences long and contained no reasoning. But it disclosed an ideological split, with the court’s four more liberal members noting that they would have denied the request for a stay of the lower court’s order extending early voting. Dale Ho, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, said the court’s action “will deprive many Ohioans of the opportunity to vote in the upcoming election as this case continues to make its way through the courts.” The ruling, which reflected a partisan breakdown in many court decisions nationwide on voting issues, saw the five Republican-appointed justices uphold the voting restrictions enacted by the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature in February. The new limits removed the first week of Ohio’s 35-day early voting period, in the process eliminating the only week that permitted same-day registration, a feature most often used by minorities.
The nation’s highest court on Monday granted an emergency plea from state officials to block a lower court’s order expanding statewide early voting days and times. The last-minute decision means early voting will not start Tuesday, but instead will be delayed one week. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted and Attorney General Mike DeWine asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse or delay the district court order restoring Golden Week, a week-long window when people could both register to vote and cast a ballot in Ohio, forcing Husted to add more early voting hours to the statewide schedule and allowing county boards of election to set additional hours. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, who oversees the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals where the case was appealed, referred the case to the full court, which voted 5-4 to grant the stay. The court issued its order without an opinion or explanation, noting the court’s liberal Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Kagan would not have granted the stay. Justices Samuel Alito, John G. Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia and Anthony M. Kennedy voted to grant the stay.