Ohio’s elections director will be taking a close look at one of the state’s largest counties, where a series of missteps and squabbling among election board members delayed voting results for hours in this past week’s primary. The latest trouble comes on top of several years of infighting and accusations of wrongdoing within the Lucas County’s elections board. Secretary of State Jon Husted called the situation there the worst he’s faced from an elections board. “There’s not even a close second,” he said. A committee appointed by Husted in early April to look into the board’s operations recommended Friday that the county’s top two elections officials be fired and that three of its four board members be replaced.
Articles about voting issues in Ohio.
The Lucas County Board of Elections stayed up all night, through 9 a.m. today, to finish tabulating the May 6 election results — pushing through multiple problems that included missing data cards, an accidental deletion of a computer file containing votes, and tension between two board members that prompted a sheriff’s deputy to intervene. Trouble with the election, which was being tabulated at the board’s early vote center, became apparent at 11:30 p.m. Tuesday. At that point, less than 73 percent of the results were posted online and had not been updated for about an hour. Board member Jon Stainbrook told The Blade just before midnight that six data cards were missing, which was holding up the election count. The board didn’t finalize the primary election count until 9:28 a.m., after completing all-night count of the votes. Final election turnout was 10.15 percent, with about 31,695 of Lucas County’s 312,412 registered voters casting ballots. The turnout in Ohio’s last gubernatorial primary, in 2010, was about 17 percent in Lucas County. The election was wrought with problems, the most grievous being the missing cards.
In February, Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted announced his decision to cut early voting on Sundays and weekday evenings. This met swift opposition from voting rights advocates, who say the move is apiece with a Republican-led nationwide attack on voting methods highly utilized by minorities, who tend to lean Democratic. Salon has obtained email correspondences of officials working for Husted. Covering more than three months leading up to his controversial changes to early voting, the records show no interest among three top officials, including the Secretary of State, in how eliminating Sunday voting might affect the state’s African-American communities, which had long placed particular emphasis on after-church voting. The records also show that, in exercising its power to send information about the recent voting changes to organizations throughout the state, Husted’s office appears to express a strong preference for providing information to Republican-aligned groups, and even specifically addresses the possibility of excluding non-Republican legislators.
Voting and civil rights advocates today sued in federal court to block a new state law that sliced a week off early voting as well as a secretary-of-state directive limiting voting hours. If the lawsuit is successful, it would again put decisions on setting hours for in-person early voting in the hands of 88 county boards of elections. Many of those four-member boards deadlocked 2-2 on early voting schedules in 2012, ultimately making Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted the tie-breaker. “I can’t speculate on what we may do,” Sean Young, attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union National Voting Rights Project, said when asked if they would intervene later at the county level. The suit against the GOP-passed bill was filed in U.S. District Court in Columbus by the voting rights project, the ACLU of Ohio, the League of Women Voters of Ohio, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and several African American churches.
The GOP-controlled Ohio legislature, after repeatedly attempting to cut early voting in 2012, earlier this year eliminated the state’s first week of early voting—the “Golden Week” when voters could also register at the polls. In addition, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted issued a directive abolishing the last two days of early voting before Election Day and eliminating early voting hours on weeknights and Sundays, when African American churches traditionally organize “Souls to the Polls” drives. In 2012, 157,000 Ohioans cast ballots during early voting hours eliminated by the Ohio GOP, according to a lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of groups including the Ohio NAACP and the League of Women Voters. As in Wisconsin, the lawsuit contends that such cuts violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) by disproportionately burdening black voters.
The Libertarian Party of Ohio immediately appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday after a lower court denied its attempt to get a gubernatorial candidate on Tuesday’s primary ballot. Their candidate, Charlie Earl, was disqualified by Secretary of State Jon Husted after his nominating petitions were challenged. Husted agreed with a hearing officer who found two Earl petitioners failed to properly disclose their employers.
Ohio: Case before U.S. Supreme Court could decide whether states can criminalize campaign lies | Cleveland Plain Dealer
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday will hear arguments on an Ohio law that criminalizes deliberate lies about political candidates in a high-profile case that could overturn campaign speech restrictions around the nation. The controversy over whether Ohio’s law violates free speech has forged unlikely allies of the abortion-rights American Civil Liberties Union and the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List. It has also pitted Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine against himself as he defends the law in his official capacity while criticizing the law in a separate court filing. Even political satirist P. J. O’Rourke has weighed in with a U.S. Supreme Court brief that claims “the law at issue undermines the First Amendment’s protection of the serious business of making politics funny. Laws like Ohio’s here, which criminalize ‘false’ speech, do not replace truthiness, satire and snark with high-minded ideas and ‘just the facts,’ ” it continues. “Instead, they chill speech such that spin becomes silence.” Violations of Ohio’s law against political lies are considered a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by a penalty of up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine.
Secretary of State Jon Husted should enforce a controversial rule that limits election spending by companies, nonprofits and unions, Democrats said Thursday. The regulation requires companies, unions and nonprofits to disclose when they pay for election ads. It also prohibits companies from spending money to influence elections for a year after they receive state or federal money, such as through a contract or a grant to promote job creation. Ohio House Republicans drew attention to the rule last week by passing legislation that would void it, saying limiting corporate election spending was a violation of free speech. But a spokesman for Husted, a Republican, said he couldn’t enforce the regulation anyway, since its provisions, and consequences for not following them, aren’t found anywhere in law. That doesn’t matter, Democrats told reporters Thursday.
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.
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.