Election Day is so 2007. Welcome to the start of Election Month in Ohio. “Just sitting back and waiting for people to turn out on Election Day is a fool’s errand,” said Matt Borges, chairman of the Ohio Republican Party. With the growing popularity of casting ballots ahead of time, the fate of statewide elections, county races and local issues will be decided beginning Tuesday at early-voting centers across the Buckeye State — four weeks before polls open on Election Day, Nov. 4. Borges said he expects 11 percent of this year’s turnout to come in the first week of early voting. “I think what it does is it just moves everything up,” said Lauren Hitt, spokeswoman for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald.Full Article: Early voting changing election campaigns in Ohio | The Columbus Dispatch.
Secretary of State Jon Husted wants a court to throw out his own directive. Under an order to county elections boards Husted issued on Friday, Ohioans could start voting a week earlier than he’d planned and cast a ballot during the two weekends before Election Day. But at the same time, the Republican is pushing for a higher court to overturn the lower-court ruling that added the days of early voting and eliminate them. Battling in court over when Ohioans can vote has become almost a biennial ritual, seemingly taking place every time the state has a gubernatorial or presidential election. This year, the dispute involves whether voters can start casting ballots on Sept. 30 or Oct. 7, and whether additional hours will be allowed on weekends and evenings.Full Article: Husted directs elections boards to be ready for voting in two weeks | The Columbus Dispatch.
Libertarians in Ohio cried foul Tuesday after learning a Republican consultant and appointee of Gov. John Kasich was responsible for hiring the law firm whose challenge pushed two of their candidates off the statewide ballot. Terry Casey worked for Kasich’s 2010 campaign and the governor has since appointed him to the $70,000-a-year job chairing the state personnel review board. Casey’s role hiring Zeiger, Tigges & Little emerged in a case in which Libertarians are asking federal Judge Michael Watson to restore governor candidate Charlie Earl and attorney general candidate Steven Linnabary to November’s ballot. In a new court filing, the party also says Bradley Smith, hired to oversee the disqualification hearing by Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted, didn’t disclose he was working for Ohio’s Republican attorney general, Mike DeWine, doing pro bono work at the time.Full Article: Libertarians protest Kasich ties to ballot decision - News - IndeOnline.com is an online publication of The Independent - Massillon, OH.
Voting restrictions imposed by Ohio Republicans earlier this year will make casting a ballot in the Buckeye State significantly harder, and will hurt African-Americans far more than whites, according to a new court filing which offers a wealth of data to back up its claims. The brief, filed Monday by lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), asks a federal judge for an injunction to block the restrictions—cuts to the early voting period, and the elimination of same-day voter registration—before this November’s election. The ACLU filed suit earlier this year, alleging that the moves violate the Voting Rights Act’s ban on voting changes that have a racially discriminatory effect. But until Monday, it had not offered detailed information in support of its case.Full Article: Why Ohio's early voting cuts hit African-Americans hardest | MSNBC.
Conservative iconography is saturated with references to America’s democratic tradition. From Charles and David Koch’s political action committee, Americans for Prosperity, which uses the Statue of Liberty’s torch for its logo, to the ubiquitous presence of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence at tea party rallies, it is commonplace for conservatives to drape themselves in the flag and proclaim their allegiance to our nation’s founding documents. But lately, conservative lawmakers across the country have launched a drive that not only contradicts this rhetoric but strikes at the fundamental basis for representative government in America: They are pursuing a raft of measures that will restrict voters’ access to the polls. A heated debate about voter ID laws — measures that require voters to take government-issued identification to the polls — has been taking place for several years. The U.S. Supreme Court in 2008 upheld the constitutionality of these local voter ID laws, but even the justices were deeply divided on the question; civil liberties groups continue to argue that, as with the poll taxes and literacy tests of the Jim Crow South, these laws result in the disenfranchisement of poor people and people of color. However, conservatives have now opened another front in the war on the vote with a slate of recent laws that attack provisions such as early voting.Full Article: When ‘patriots’ unite to restrict voting rights | Al Jazeera America.
Ohio Republicans have backed down on an effort to penalize the state’s largest county for sending out absentee ballots. But the escalating battle over voting rights in the nation’s most pivotal swing state shows no sign of subsiding—with one top Democrat calling for a federal probe of GOP voter suppression. A spokesman for House Republicans said Tuesday afternoon that the GOP would drop a measure that would have cut funding by 10% for any county that doesn’t follow state law regarding absentee ballots. The proposal, inserted Monday into a larger budget bill, was a direct shot at the state’s largest county, Cuyahoga, which has asserted the right to mail absentee ballots to all registered voters—in defiance of a recently passed state law barring counties from doing so. Hours later, the Cuyahoga council voted to assert its “home rule” power, giving it the authority to send absentee ballots to all registered voters in the county.Full Article: Ohio voting rights battle heating up | MSNBC.
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.Full Article: Could absentee ballot controversy lead to Ohio voting probe? | The Columbus Dispatch.
Charles Earl is trying to run for governor of Ohio. A native of Bowling Green, the one-time Republican state representative now represents the Libertarian Party of Ohio (LPO). As the LPO’s gubernatorial candidate, Earl would challenge current Republican Gov. John Kasich and Democrat Ed Fitzgerald come November 2014, possibly siphoning off dissatisfied Ohio voters from Kasich. But Earl’s candidacy is currently in limbo. Last week, Earl received a letter from Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted disqualifying him from the May primary ballot. Earl was disqualified on the grounds that those circulating petitions for his inclusion weren’t Libertarian Party members and/or failed to disclose themselves as paid LPO employees.Full Article: Ohio Libertarians Say GOP Schemed To Keep LP Candidates Off State Ballot - Hit & Run : Reason.com.
Ohio Republicans must not think their political candidates can win a fair fight against Democrats. They’ve decided to rig the state’s election system in their favor, deliberately making voting harder for people who tend to vote Democratic, particularly minorities and the poor. After years of debate and litigation on this issue, Ohio lawmakers know full well that there is no history of electoral fraud in the state and no pattern of abuse by any voters or groups. The sole reason for a series of recently passed bills is that Ohio is a perennial swing state, and Republicans want to give themselves every possible advantage in sending party members to Congress later this year, and putting electoral votes in the Republican column in the 2016 presidential election.Full Article: Ohio Mistrusts Democracy - NYTimes.com.
Ohio: Husted disqualifies 2 Libertarian candidates from May primary after protests | Associated Press
Two Libertarian candidates for statewide office were tossed from Ohio’s primary ballot on Friday in a state election chief’s ruling that sparked immediate plans for a legal challenge. Secretary of State Jon Husted issued a brief statement in disqualifying gubernatorial candidate Charlie Earl and attorney general candidate Steven Linnabary from the May 6 primary, saying he had adopted a hearing officer’s recommendations. The candidates’ nominating petitions were challenged on two grounds: that signature gatherers failed to comply with Ohio laws requiring them to be either Libertarian or political independent and another requiring them to disclose their employer. Mark Brown, an attorney for the Libertarian Party of Ohio, said the party will challenge the decision in federal court.Full Article: Ohio elections chief disqualifies 2 Libertarian candidates from May primary after protests (3/7/14 6:31 pm).
Republican Gov. John Kasich has signed into law three bills that change the procedures for voting in Ohio. The measures were rammed through the GOP- controlled General Assembly, with proponents arguing, among other things, that they are designed to combat voter fraud. Not surprisingly, Democrats have been quick to respond, accusing the Republicans who control every statewide administrative office and six of the seven Supreme Court seats of attempting to restrict voting. The arguments from both sides should ring familiar. They have been used in previous battles over voting in Ohio. The GOP contends that unrestricted access to the polls is a recipe for disaster; the Democratic Party counters that voter suppression is at the heart of the Republican campaign. It notes that urban areas are hardest hit by the changes in voting procedures, with black voters, who mostly support Democratic candidates, being dissuaded from going to the polls.Full Article: Youngstown News, Lawsuit challenging voting bills would force GOP to prove fraud.
Ohio: FitzGerald introduces voting legislation that contradicts recently-passed state law | Cleveland Plain Dealer
Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald has formally submitted legislation to County Council asserting his right to mail out unsolicited absentee ballot applications to all registered voters in the county, a move that would be in direct contradiction to a recently-passed state law. FitzGerald, a Democrat who is running for governor, released the legislation — which he has deemed the “Cuyahoga County Voting Rights Law” — late Wednesday. The bill’s text says that despite any state laws to the contrary, the county will promote voter registration and promote “early voting and maximizing voter participation through voting by mail in Cuyahoga County, including, but not limited to, mailing applications to vote by mail, with postage-prepaid return envelopes, to all registered voters in Cuyahoga County.”Full Article: Ed FitzGerald introduces voting legislation that contradicts recently-passed state law | cleveland.com.
Making good on a promise, the leader of Ohio’s largest county is taking legal action to counteract the state legislature’s new restrictions on early voting. And since the Cuyahoga County executive, Ed FitzGerald, is also a candidate for governor, that means he could be matched in a court challenge against current Gov. John Kasich. FitzGerald rolled out a series of actions during a press conference this morning outside the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections. Last Friday, Kasich signed Senate Bill 238, which eliminates “Golden Week” – when Ohioans could register and vote on the same day – by shortening early voting by a week. He also signed Senate Bill 205, which makes legislative approval a requirement before the secretary of state can mail out absentee-ballot applications statewide, and forbids counties from doing so on their own.Full Article: Cuyahoga County, FitzGerald prepare for early voting fight | The Columbus Dispatch.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted announced Tuesday he is cutting early voting on Sundays and weekday evenings, dealing another blow to the voting rights effort in the nation’s most pivotal swing state. Husted’s change would spell doom for a voting method that’s popular among African-Americans in Ohio and elsewhere. Many churches and community groups lead “Souls to the Polls” drives after church on the Sunday before the election. There’s little doubt that cuts to early voting target blacks disproportionately. In 2008, black voters were 56% of all weekend voters in Cuyahoga County, Ohio’s largest, even though they made up just 28% of the county’s population. “By completely eliminating Sundays from the early voting schedule, Secretary Husted has effectively quashed successful Souls to the Polls programs that brought voters directly form church to early voting sites,” said Mike Brickner, a spokesman for the Ohio American Civil Liberties Union, in an email.Full Article: Ohio cuts early voting method favored by blacks | MSNBC.
Ohio: Cuyahoga County considering legal action against election bills, FitzGerald says | The Columbus Dispatch
Gov. John Kasich signed two GOP-sponsored bills today that shorten early voting in Ohio and change the process for mailing absentee ballot applications statewide, potentially inviting a legal challenge from his likely Democratic opponent. Kasich put his name on Senate Bill 238 — which eliminates “Golden Week,” when Ohioans could register and vote on the same day — and Senate Bill 205, which requires the approval of the legislature for the secretary of state to mail absentee applications statewide. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald, who also serves as the elected Cuyahoga County executive, said he has asked his county law director to review the two bills and is considering taking legal action. “We’ve done that before,” FitzGerald said. “We are the only county in Ohio that when they tried to change the election rules at the last minute in 2012, of course there was a lawsuit over that, there was only one county in Ohio that filed an amicus (friend-of-the-court) brief.Full Article: Cuyahoga County considering legal action against election bills, FitzGerald says | The Columbus Dispatch.
With Gov. John Kasich’s signature now on two Republican-sponsored bills that reduce early voting, eyes turn toward his likely Democratic challenger to see if he follows through on a threat to challenge the new laws in court. Yesterday, Kasich signed Senate Bill 238, which eliminates “Golden Week” — when Ohioans could register and vote on the same day — and shortens early voting by a week. He also signed Senate Bill 205, which makes legislative approval a requirement before the secretary of state can mail out absentee-ballot applications statewide. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald, who also is the elected Cuyahoga County executive, said he has asked his county law director to review the two new laws for possible legal action. “We’ve done that before,” said FitzGerald, who emailed supporters after Kasich signed the bills to say he was “livid.”Full Article: Kasich signs both elections bills; 'livid' FitzGerald may take action | The Columbus Dispatch.
Ohio voters will have shorter windows in which to cast early ballots under a proposed measure headed to Gov. John Kasich’s desk this week after the Republican-dominated legislature moved to cut almost a full week off the state’s early voting window. The House on Wednesday passed a measure that would end what’s known as “golden week,” the six days of early voting during which a voter can both register to vote and cast an in-person absentee ballot at the same time. Democrats and voting-rights groups opposed the measure, which passed the state House on a party-line vote. The Senate had passed an identical bill in November, so the proposal now heads to Kasich, who is likely to sign it.Full Article: Ohio Republicans move to curb early, absentee voting.
Ohio: House passes bills to change absentee ballot rules, eliminate six days of early voting | Cleveland Plain Dealer
The GOP-controlled Ohio House passed along party lines on Wednesday two bills that make changes to the mailing of absentee ballot applications and cut six days from Ohio’s 35-day early, in-person voting period. The Senate approved House-made changes to the bills before sending them to Gov. John Kasich, who is expected to sign them into law. Senate Bill 238 would eliminate six early voting days referred to as “golden week,” when people can both register to vote and cast an in-person absentee ballot. The Ohio Association of Election Officials recommended the five-day period be scrapped to create a clean break between when voters can register and when they can cast ballots. The bill passed in a 58-39 vote in the House and the Senate passed the bill along party lines, 23-10, on Nov. 20, 2013.Full Article: Ohio House passes bills to change absentee ballot rules, eliminate six days of early voting | cleveland.com.
Top Republican state officials are appealing a federal judge’s preliminary injunction against a GOP-backed law that would have made it more difficult for minor parties to get on the 2014 ballot. Attorney General Mike DeWine filed a notice of appeal with the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday. On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Michael H. Watson placed on hold the law, which would have blocked all minor parties from having a primary on May 6 and significantly raised the number of signatures needed for a minor-party candidate to reach the ballot.Full Article: GOP appeals election-law injunction | The Columbus Dispatch.
A federal judge on Tuesday blocked newly imposed Ohio limits to ballot access for minor parties, increasing the chances that Republican Gov. John Kasich will face a third-party challenger this fall. U.S. District Judge Michael Watson in Columbus issued his preliminary injunction in a constitutional challenge filed by the Libertarian Party of Ohio to a law that opponents call “The John Kasich Re-election Protection Act.” The legislation’s sponsor disputes the characterization. And Kasich has said he didn’t request the bill. The law, signed by the governor in November, established what qualifies as a political party and what percentage of the vote must be won to maintain that status. The previous qualifications were deemed unconstitutional in 2006, and third parties had been qualifying for the ballot at the secretary of state’s discretion.Full Article: Libertarians win challenge to Ohio ballot limits - MariettaTimes.com | News, Sports, Jobs, Ohio, Community Information - The Marietta Times.