With a presidential election behind them, Ohio lawmakers passed several bills Wednesday to make changes to the battleground state’s election laws. One measure was more contentious than the other: It would restrict the time groups have to collect the extra signatures needed to make sure their ballot questions get before voters. Under the proposal, groups couldn’t gather additional signatures until the secretary of state notifies them whether their initial petitions have fallen short. Current law already allows groups 10 days to file any added signatures once they get notification from the state’s elections chief. But campaigns typically continue to collect signatures after they submit their initial petitions to maximize their time to get additional names. That time has varied, depending on how long it takes election officials to certify that the initial signatures are from valid Ohio voters.
Articles about voting issues in Ohio.
Ohio: Electronic poll books seem conceptually simple but may be vulnerable to hacking and cyber attacks, experts say | cleveland.com
Cuyahoga County elections officials plan to experiment with electronic poll books to verify the registration of in-person voters despite warnings that the devices are vulnerable to hacking and even politically motivated cyber attacks. Two experts contacted by The Plain Dealer said the so-called e-poll books also have spotty performance records in several places where they have been tested and could be especially challenging for Cuyahoga County because of its larger number of voters and past troubles with new election technology. “E-poll books are similar to other computer-based technologies in voting – full of promise and lousy execution in most locations,” said Candice Hoke, a Cleveland State University law professor and an authority on laws governing election technologies. “Our counties should be extremely chary of adopting them, but definitely a pilot project is a good way to proceed.”
Despite pleas to slow down and reconsider portions of a bill that would limit how long signatures can be collected for ballot initiatives, the House will vote this week on the measure that already has Senate approval. Senate Bill 47 was voted out of the House Policy and Legislative Oversight Committee yesterday afternoon on a 9-5 vote after former Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner advised the committee members, “If you pass this lickety-split, it’s going to make you look bad.” No one testified at yesterday’s hearing in favor of the petition part of the bill, though a representative from the Ohio Association of Election Officials spoke in support of other parts of the bill.
Ohio: Expanded weekend early voting recommended by bipartisan Ohio elections officials | Columbus Dispatch
Ohio voters could cast early in-person ballots on three weekend days before a presidential election but would have fewer days overall to cast such votes under a recommendation this morning from the Ohio Association of Elections Officials. Elections offices also would be require to stay open later 15 days before an election, under the proposal from the group, made up of an equal number of Democrats and Republicans. Ohio has seen regular battles over when early voting can take place, sometimes leading to court rulings within days of an election. “The Ohio Association of Election Officials is as bipartisan an organization as you can find in our state,” said Karla Herron, OAEO president, in a release. “These recommendations were arrived at with bipartisan consensus and were designed with the voters and election officials in mind, not the political parties.”
Despite calls for urgency from fellow Republicans, the Ohio House and its leader are pumping the breaks on the latest round of legislation that would overhaul how Ohio draws its election maps. Senate President Keith Faber, R-Celina, said passing a plan that would require both Republicans and Democrats to sign off on congressional and state legislative districts is a top priority. The Ohio Senate approved that plan 32-1 in December. Senators reintroduced a bipartisan new version in the new legislative session that began this year. “I’d expect the senate to act soon,” Faber said. But the Ohio House, led by Speaker William Batchelder, R-Medina, is taking a more deliberate approach. Rather than address the Senate plan directly in the legislature, Batchelder has decided that redistricting reform should be first taken up by the Constitutional Modernization Commission, a 32-member advisory body that meets four times a year. The commission has 10 years to recommend changes to Ohio’s constitution. Any changes would ultimately require the approval of the legislature.
While in town to honor a longtime Ross County Board of Elections worker for his service, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted told the Gazette he plans to ask the General Assembly for the authority to create a process for online voter registration. Voters can change their addresses online at the Secretary of State’s website, but Husted said he hopes to have online registration available in the near future. “It is more inexpensive — more cost-effective, I should say — and more secure if we can register people electronically rather than with the old paper-based system,” Husted said. “We can save between 50 cents and $1 per voter for registration and when you can electronically validate them, you can ensure that only the people that should be legally registered are actually voting.” Husted said he plans to ask the General Assembly for the authority to create the system and, if approved, he anticipates it could be turned around in six months. Husted also said other election-related innovations such as allowing everyone the opportunity to vote early via absentee ballot by mail or in local board of elections offices have proven popular with voters.
A Greater Cincinnati nun is suspected of illegally casting a ballot for another nun who died before last November’s election, a new case of alleged vote fraud that emerged as local officials move to wrap up their investigation into election improprieties last fall. Sister Rose Marie Hewitt, 78, died Oct. 4 after a 59-year career as a Sister of Charity that included service in schools here and across the country, as well as in various other positions in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Although her death occurred before absentee ballots had been mailed to voters throughout Hamilton County, a completed ballot was returned to the elections board in Hewitt’s name.
Ohio: Voters testify in fraud hearings – explanations for errors range from bad postage to bad advice | Cincinnati.com
A Hamilton County Board of Elections hearing on Friday into possible vote fraud last November produced no Perry Mason moments but plenty of evidence of voter confusion – not over for whom to vote, but how to vote. In the first of two hearings intended to give subpoenaed individuals who voted twice a final chance to explain their actions and avoid possible prosecution, the explanations ranged from poll workers’ advice to worries over inadequate postage on absentee ballots to whether the ballots had even been mailed at all. One of the most popular responses: “I don’t remember.” At least in the handful of cases reviewed in full Friday, no sinister motives or actions emerged. The board plans to hold another hearing next week, then decide which of the roughly 20 cases still being investigated – from among about four times that number initially examined – should be forwarded to county prosecutors.
It was about 48 hours after the polls closed on November 6, 2012 when Defiance County, Ohio Elections Director Pamela S. Schroder got the late-night text on her phone from another Ohio county elections official. It’s the type of message no elections official wants to get. There was talk on television of vote rigging in Defiance County. Schroder looked at the text on her phone and thought “Why us?” Fortunately for Schroder, while the text was real, the talk wasn’t. It is part of a story line on the ABC drama Scandal. Scandal is a primetime drama on ABC starring Kerry Washington as public relations “fixer” in Washington, D.C.
Ohio: Secretary of State Jon Husted and other Republicans say Electoral College changes not in store for Ohio | cleveland.com
Count Ohio’s Republican leaders out of a GOP-backed effort to end the Electoral College’s winner-take-all format in the Buckeye State and other presidential battlegrounds. Spokesmen for Gov. John Kasich, State Senate President Keith Faber and House Speaker William G. Batchelder told The Plain Dealer this week that they are not pursuing plans to award electoral votes proportionally by congressional district. Batchelder went a step further, saying through his communications director that he “is not supportive of such a move.” And Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted, the state’s chief elections administrator, emphasized that he does not favor the plan either, despite Democratic suspicions based on reported comments that he said were taken out of context. “Nobody in Ohio is advocating this,” Husted said in a telephone interview.