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.
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.”
Ohio: County, state officials reach resolution in Ohio battle over absentee ballot applications | The Republic
Ohio will mail absentee ballot request forms to voters in all counties ahead of the 2012 presidential election, settling a dispute between the state’s top election official and the leader of the state’s largest county.
As part of the agreement announced Friday, Cuyahoga County officials agreed not to send out unsolicited mailings for absentee ballots for this year’s general election.
Cuyahoga County officials in Cleveland had threatened to defy Secretary of State Jon Husted’s order barring county elections boards from mailing the unsolicited applications. The county’s council earlier in the week authorized mailings to all registered voters. That led to a meeting Thursday in Columbus where Husted, a Republican, and Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, a Democrat, worked out the compromise.
The war of words over the future of mass-mailed ballot applications in Cuyahoga County continues. On his personal blog, State Auditor Dave Yost has a post called “The Wreck of the Edward FitzGerald.” He is saber-rattling over Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitzgerld’s plan to continue mass mailing ballot applications to all registered voters in Cuyahoga County.
Secretary of State Jon Husted banned such mailing by boards of elections because most could not afford them and he insisted on uniformity of election procedures. FitzGerald countered with a plan to have the county, not the election board, pay for and handle the mailings. That cost is likely to be about $330,000. After lots of angry words, Husted said he would not block FitzGerald’s plan.
But now Auditor Yost says he told FitzGerald, “if (you) spend money without any authority to do so, next years’ (audit) finding could include a large finding for recovery.”