After a day of controversy, House Republicans decided to pull a measure aimed at Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald that would have cut local government funding to any county mailing absentee ballot applications. House GOP spokesman Mike Dittoe explained the move by saying, “State Auditor Dave Yost, through a letter issued in August 2011 that surfaced today, contends that he already has such authority to issue findings of recovery to county officials who may be in violation of the law for this practice.” However, FitzGerald and Cuyahoga County Council defied state officials this evening by voting 8 to 3 to OK the mailing of absentee ballot applications to all Cuyahoga County voters. “Tonight, we sent a clear message to Columbus – Cuyahoga County will not be intimidated when it comes to protecting the right to vote,” said FitzGerald in a statement. “This fight is just getting started, and I am looking forward to continuing to work with the members of our County Council to stand up to anyone who wants to suppress the vote in Ohio.”
Three years ago Yost questioned FitzGerald’s plans to mail absentee ballot applications for the general election, when Ohioans were voting on Senate Bill 5, the measure that sharply reduced public employee collective bargaining rights.
“Because of the constitutional and statutory authority of the secretary of state to regulate Ohio’s election process, understandably, the actions by a political subdivision usurping the directives of Ohio’s chief elections officer is a proper subject of review by my office,” Yost said in the Aug. 29, 2011 letter to FitzGerald.
However, the threat of findings never came to a head because FitzGerald and Secretary of State Jon Husted reached an agreement in which Husted send the applications to all voters in the state.