Ohio lawmakers rejected a request from Secretary of State Jon Husted to include $1.25 million in the budget to fund the mailing of absentee ballot applications statewide in 2016. “It’s not in there yet,” said Husted’s press secretary Joshua Eck, who added they’ve been given no indication that lawmakers against it. “In the grand scheme of things, $1.25 million is a small price to pay to ensure that when all eyes are on Ohio, we deliver another smooth presidential election,” Assistant Secretary of State Matt Damschroder said in prepared testimony before the House Finance Committee last month. Eck said they will continue to meet with lawmakers so they know this is a priority and valued by Husted.
Articles about voting issues in Ohio.
Voting rights advocates and Ohio’s top election official have settled a lawsuit over controversial cuts to the pivotal presidential state’s early voting period. The deal, announced Friday morning between Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, and the ACLU, undoes some but not all of the damage to voting access caused by last year’s cuts. It restores one day of Sunday voting and adds weekday evening hours, but lets stand the elimination of a week when Ohioans had been able to register and vote all in one day. It also ensures that all counties will have the same voting schedule — something Husted had named as a priority and that voting rights advocates too say will reduce confusion. Both sides called it a win.
In a rebuke of fellow Republicans, Gov. John Kasich used his line-item veto authority today to kill language that would have targeted out-of-state college students who register to vote in Ohio to quickly obtain in-state licenses and vehicle registrations. The governor let stand a new portion of the law requiring new Ohio residents to get an updated license and registration within 30 days. But he stripped out the measure linking that provision with voting registration. The Dispatch reported today that state officials could not say how the voting requirement would have been enforced. Democrats and voting-rights activists had lobbied the governor’s office to veto the measure, contending it would discourage students from voting if they had to obtain Ohio documentation within 30 days of registering to vote.
Ohio: Kasich vetoes transportation budget language that critics said would deter voting | Cleveland Plain Dealer
Gov. John Kasich on Wednesday vetoed some provisions tucked into the transportation budget bill that critics had predicted would deter out-of-state college students from voting in Ohio. But the governor let stand a 30-day time limit by which anyone who declares Ohio residency must re-register their cars and get a new driver’s license. A provision that listed registering to vote among several acts of declaring residency in the state had triggered criticism. Under the vetoed language, failure to re-register an out-of-state car and get a new driver’s license would have resulted in loss of all driving privileges in Ohio and open the driver to a minor misdemeanor charge and a fine.
If county boards of elections are mandated by the state to use electronic pollbooks as part of future elections then most elections officials want the state to provide funding to purchase the equipment or provide reimbursement for previously purchased systems. The Ohio Association of Elections Officials District 8 met March 25 at Classic Park in Eastlake to discuss common concerns about issues, share best practices, meet with Ohio Secretary of State Office staff, and to network with their peers. District 8 consists of representatives from Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina and Summit counties were in attendance.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”