State Auditor Dave Yost’s comments about the possibility of getting into Cuyahoga County officials’ pocketbooks should increase the odds of a federal probe of voting in Ohio, the county’s law director says. “Going after the personal finances of public officials for trying to promote voter participation is unprecedented,” said Majeed G. Makhlouf. “I think we expect the Department of Justice to take the threat to voting rights pretty seriously.” At issue is a new law passed by the GOP-controlled state legislature and signed by Republican Gov. John Kasich saying that the secretary of state’s office is the only government agency that can send out absentee ballot applications.
The Cuyahoga County Council, at the behest of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald, passed legislation yesterday that would allow the county to continue sending out the applications.
Yost told The Dispatch this afternoon that his office likely would regard such an expenditure as an improper use of taxpayer money.
“At first blush I would say that is not a proper public purpose and would be subject to either a noncompliance citation or a finding for recovery, which would mean that the responsible officers would have to pay the money back,” the GOP auditor said.