The group of African-American leaders pushing the inclusion of a Voters Bill of Rights in the Ohio Constitution has revised its amendment summary and submitted new signatures after Attorney General Mike DeWine rejected their initial attempt to get on the ballot. The Voters Bill of Rights would add items to the constitution that are controversial among some Republicans, such as preserving a 35-day early voting period, specifiying extended hours for early voting, allowing a voter to cast a provisional ballot anywhere in the correct county and moving toward online voter registration. Supporters say their effort is a reaction to several new laws that may make voting more difficult for some – in exchange for added security, fairness and efficiency, Republicans say.
Articles about voting issues in Ohio.
Ohio voters this year will not be able to cast votes at boards of elections on Sundays – and that has some Democrats angered across the state. Voters will still be able to cast ballots weekdays and two Saturdays in the four weeks before Election Day under a directive issued Tuesday by Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted. They’ll also be able to cast early ballots by mail. But to Hamilton County Board of Elections Chairman Tim Burke, who is also the county’s Democratic Party chairman, Sunday voting is “critical.”
Making good on a promise, the leader of Ohio’s largest county is taking legal action to counteract the state legislature’s new restrictions on early voting. And since the Cuyahoga County executive, Ed FitzGerald, is also a candidate for governor, that means he could be matched in a court challenge against current Gov. John Kasich. FitzGerald rolled out a series of actions during a press conference this morning outside the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections. Last Friday, Kasich signed Senate Bill 238, which eliminates “Golden Week” – when Ohioans could register and vote on the same day – by shortening early voting by a week. He also signed Senate Bill 205, which makes legislative approval a requirement before the secretary of state can mail out absentee-ballot applications statewide, and forbids counties from doing so on their own.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted announced Tuesday he is cutting early voting on Sundays and weekday evenings, dealing another blow to the voting rights effort in the nation’s most pivotal swing state. Husted’s change would spell doom for a voting method that’s popular among African-Americans in Ohio and elsewhere. Many churches and community groups lead “Souls to the Polls” drives after church on the Sunday before the election. There’s little doubt that cuts to early voting target blacks disproportionately. In 2008, black voters were 56% of all weekend voters in Cuyahoga County, Ohio’s largest, even though they made up just 28% of the county’s population. “By completely eliminating Sundays from the early voting schedule, Secretary Husted has effectively quashed successful Souls to the Polls programs that brought voters directly form church to early voting sites,” said Mike Brickner, a spokesman for the Ohio American Civil Liberties Union, in an email.
Ohio: Cuyahoga County considering legal action against election bills, FitzGerald says | The Columbus Dispatch
Gov. John Kasich signed two GOP-sponsored bills today that shorten early voting in Ohio and change the process for mailing absentee ballot applications statewide, potentially inviting a legal challenge from his likely Democratic opponent. Kasich put his name on Senate Bill 238 — which eliminates “Golden Week,” when Ohioans could register and vote on the same day — and Senate Bill 205, which requires the approval of the legislature for the secretary of state to mail absentee applications statewide. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald, who also serves as the elected Cuyahoga County executive, said he has asked his county law director to review the two bills and is considering taking legal action. “We’ve done that before,” FitzGerald said. “We are the only county in Ohio that when they tried to change the election rules at the last minute in 2012, of course there was a lawsuit over that, there was only one county in Ohio that filed an amicus (friend-of-the-court) brief.
With Gov. John Kasich’s signature now on two Republican-sponsored bills that reduce early voting, eyes turn toward his likely Democratic challenger to see if he follows through on a threat to challenge the new laws in court. Yesterday, Kasich signed Senate Bill 238, which eliminates “Golden Week” — when Ohioans could register and vote on the same day — and shortens early voting by a week. He also signed Senate Bill 205, which makes legislative approval a requirement before the secretary of state can mail out absentee-ballot applications statewide. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald, who also is the elected Cuyahoga County executive, said he has asked his county law director to review the two new laws for possible legal action. “We’ve done that before,” said FitzGerald, who emailed supporters after Kasich signed the bills to say he was “livid.”
Hamilton County leaders can move elections operations to Mount Airy, but the issue about where to put early voting remains unsettled in the wake of Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s tie-breaking vote on the matter. The decisions have national implications. Ohio – and Hamilton County in particular – are key battlegrounds in presidential elections, and how elections are conducted here can affect whose votes get counted. In the 2012 presidential election, more than 24,000 people voted early, in-person, at the Downtown location. “They need to find a place everyone can live with,” Husted told the Enquirer. “I’m not trying to tell anyone in Hamilton County where their early voting should be.” Husted added: “Honestly, the current location is not the best location.”
Ohio voters will have shorter windows in which to cast early ballots under a proposed measure headed to Gov. John Kasich’s desk this week after the Republican-dominated legislature moved to cut almost a full week off the state’s early voting window. The House on Wednesday passed a measure that would end what’s known as “golden week,” the six days of early voting during which a voter can both register to vote and cast an in-person absentee ballot at the same time. Democrats and voting-rights groups opposed the measure, which passed the state House on a party-line vote. The Senate had passed an identical bill in November, so the proposal now heads to Kasich, who is likely to sign it.
Concerned about the coming wave of restrictive voting laws in their state, black Ohio leaders are working to get a “Voters’ Bill of Rights” on the ballot this fall. But the state’s top legal official, a Republican, is putting obstacles in their path. And some voting law experts suggest he’s twisting the law to do so. Ohio remains the single most pivotal state for presidential elections, so its rules for voting could well have major national implications come 2016. The Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC) wants a constitutional amendment that would declare voting “a fundamental right,” expand early voting, and make it harder to use challenges to disqualify ballots, among other measures. The effort is a response to an aggressive push by state Republican lawmakers to make voting more difficult. Bills that would cut early voting, end same-day registration, and make it harder to get an absentee ballot are likely to pass the GOP-controlled legislature in the coming weeks. There is no explicit right to vote in the U.S. Constitution—an omission some lawmakers want to fix.
Ohio: House passes bills to change absentee ballot rules, eliminate six days of early voting | Cleveland Plain Dealer
The GOP-controlled Ohio House passed along party lines on Wednesday two bills that make changes to the mailing of absentee ballot applications and cut six days from Ohio’s 35-day early, in-person voting period. The Senate approved House-made changes to the bills before sending them to Gov. John Kasich, who is expected to sign them into law. Senate Bill 238 would eliminate six early voting days referred to as “golden week,” when people can both register to vote and cast an in-person absentee ballot. The Ohio Association of Election Officials recommended the five-day period be scrapped to create a clean break between when voters can register and when they can cast ballots. The bill passed in a 58-39 vote in the House and the Senate passed the bill along party lines, 23-10, on Nov. 20, 2013.