Cuyahoga County voters will decide in November whether to approve a charter amendment that county officials hope will provide them with more authority to file lawsuits to stop or overturn restrictions on voting rights. County council approved a measure to put the amendment on the ballot by an 8-3 vote, with council’s three Republicans dissenting. The measure was sponsored by Councilwoman Sunny Simon at the urging of county executive and Democratic governor candidate Ed FitzGerald. FitzGerald said Wednesday that the charter amendment would strengthen Cuyahoga County’s legal position should it need to sue over voting rules as several groups are now doing. He said attorneys in the county law department worry that a judge might not allow the county to sue because county boards of elections, and not county government, oversee voting. “We’re anticipating legal arguments down the line,” FitzGerald said.
FitzGerald conceded that the proposed ballot language will be a challenge to explain to voters, but said he expects them to support an issue if it pertains to voter rights. He said only two counties in Ohio — Cuyahoga and Summit — have governments that are created by charter and could put such an amendment before their voters.
Given the wrangling in recent years between Democrats and Republicans over voting issues, it is likely Cuyahoga County will need to sue over voting rights, FitzGerald said.