Last week, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said he is considering banning the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections from processing applications from individuals who wish to vote by mail, if county government moves forward with a plan to mail unsolicited applications to all its active registered voters.
Today, county Executive Ed FitzGerald said his office is fighting back, and is looking at legal action if Husted makes good on his threat. Fitzgerald said information may be forwarded to the U.S. Justice Department. Speaking outside the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections building, FitzGerald accused Husted of threatening voters.
“That comment stepped way over the line,” FitzGerald said today. “The fact is, Jon Husted can’t order the Board of Elections to refuse to allow citizens to vote by mail. For him to suggest that he can creates a real risk of sowing confusion among Cuyahoga County residents about this election.”
Fitzgerald hinted Husted may be looking to punish counties like Cuyahoga that have developed an efficient vote by mail system.
“Jon Husted may not like the fact that we are offering our constituents better service by sending everyone an application to vote by mail. But that doesn’t give him the right to threaten to disenfranchise our citizens and create confusion,” FitzGerald said.
Some critics have accused Husted of attempting to suppress the vote in large urban counties.
Fitzgerald contends Cuyahoga’s vote by mail system should be emulated and not challenged, and feels any move to prohibit the processing of applications would disenfranchise voters and create confusion.
FitzGerald said he will ask Cuyahoga County Council to approve the mailing of absentee ballot applications to every registered voter, rather than have the county’s Board of Elections do the mailing. Council is expected to approve the request during Monday night’s meeting.