Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted cast a vote for himself Wednesday. The state’s chief elections officer broke a tie vote at the Hamilton County Board of Elections over whether to hang a poster bearing his name in all of the county’s polling places. Husted and fellow Republicans say the poster, which features a drawing by a fifth grader from Jackson, Ohio, is harmless and informational because it encourages people to “exercise your right to vote.” It also, however, prominently features Husted’s name in white letters against a blue backdrop stripped across the top. And that, Democrats say, is unfair in an election year when Husted is running for office against Democrat Nina Turner. They say the poster essentially is a campaign ad for Husted, and no one else is allowed to bring buttons, posters, bumper stickers or other campaign material into polling places.
More early voting, online registration and broader counting of provisional ballots are among the changes legislative Democrats say should be made before the November election. Democrats put together a list of issues, including several they have been raising over the past few years. “Ohio just is not doing a good enough job of clearing the path to the ballot and counting these ballots once they cast them,” said House Minority Leader Tracy Maxwell Heard, D-Columbus. Secretary of State Jon Husted has argued that with early voting, mail voting and Election Day, there is plenty of opportunity to cast a ballot in Ohio. Democrats want Husted to rescind his directive setting days and hours for early voting this year. Based on a bipartisan recommendation from county election officials, it includes the two Saturdays before Election Day. Democrats say it also should include evening hours and the Sunday and Monday before the election.
Secretary of State Jon Husted should enforce a controversial rule that limits election spending by companies, nonprofits and unions, Democrats said Thursday. The regulation requires companies, unions and nonprofits to disclose when they pay for election ads. It also prohibits companies from spending money to influence elections for a year after they receive state or federal money, such as through a contract or a grant to promote job creation. Ohio House Republicans drew attention to the rule last week by passing legislation that would void it, saying limiting corporate election spending was a violation of free speech. But a spokesman for Husted, a Republican, said he couldn’t enforce the regulation anyway, since its provisions, and consequences for not following them, aren’t found anywhere in law. That doesn’t matter, Democrats told reporters Thursday.
Ohio: Supporters of Voters Bill of Rights can now collect signatures to put issue on November ballot | Cleveland Plain Dealer
A group pushing to enshrine voting provisions in the Ohio Constitution got the green light Thursday morning to collect signatures to put the amendment on the November ballot. The Ohio Ballot Board unanimously agreed Thursday the “Ohio Voters Bill of Rights” should be presented to voters as one amendment. The amendment writes into the Constitution minimum early, in-person voting hours — 12 hours during the weekend before Election Day and 10 hours each day during the preceding week — current identification standards, absentee ballot procedures and online voter registration. One of the group’s leaders, Cincinnati Democratic Rep. Alicia Reece, said the amendment protects those voting provisions from changes by lawmakers and removes the “political football” game played by both parties over voting procedures.
The effort by Ohio Republicans to make voting harder in the nation’s most pivotal swing state has triggered a furious response—one that could yet succeed in fighting off some of the worst effects of the new restrictions. “Since these bills have been passed, we have seen an incredible response from all corners of the state,” State Senator Nina Turner, who has helped lead the effort, told msnbc. “Ohioans are just plain tired of their ballot access being made into a political tool. From local leaders stepping out, to the court system, to the ballot, we are seeing the people push back against an effort to limit their voice using all the tools at their disposal.” Last month, Ohio lawmakers passed GOP-backed bills that cut six days of early voting, ended same-day voter registration, made it harder to vote absentee, and made it more likely that provisional ballots will be rejected. Just days after the bills were signed, Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican,announced the elimination of Sunday voting, effectively ending the “Souls to the Polls” drives organized in recent years by many African-American churches.
National: Groups pledge to spend millions on secretary of state races in Ohio, other battleground states | Cleveland Plain Dealer
Ohioans surfing the web this week may see ads railing against Secretary of State Jon Husted, but they’re not from his Democratic challenger, state Sen. Nina Turner. A Democratic-led national political action committee began running online ads against Husted last week and a conservative-driven rival PAC also plans to raise and spend money on the race as well. The national attention is to be expected, given recent politically charged battles in the Statehouse over early voting days and ballot procedures. But the national groups also are looking to the 2016 presidential race and the role secretaries of states can play as chief elections officials in crafting and enforcing voting rules that favor their respective parties. The 2014 voting hours set by Husted last week, which omit evenings and the Sunday before Election day, have been characterized by Democrats as a partisan move to suppress voting by minorities and working Ohioans.
The Ohio Senate signed off on election-related bills recently that would eliminate the state’s Golden Week and potentially reduce the number of provisional ballots cast during elections. Both passed on split votes amid criticism from Democratic lawmakers that the proposed law changes would make it more difficult for eligible Ohioans to vote. SB 238, sponsored by Sen. Frank LaRose (R-Copley), passed on a vote of 23-10. It would postpone the start of early voting until after the state’s registration period has ended. Under current law, eligible Ohioans can register and cast absentee ballots on the same day for about a week each election cycle. Under LaRose’s bill, absentee voting would start on the day after the registration deadline.
Republicans and Democrats in the Statehouse are battling fiercely over bills that could change laws that determine when and how people can vote. As Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler reports, this has a lot to do with next year’s big statewide election. Hear more from Kasler on a recap of the voting proposals in Statehouse. All five statewide executive offices are on the ballot next year – governor, attorney general, auditor, secretary of state and treasurer, along with the entire Ohio House and half the Ohio Senate. Plus there could be several important ballot issues, so naturally proposed legislation is coming forward on voting. Republican Sen. Bill Coley of Cincinnati has pushed a bill that would allow absentee ballot applications to be sent out to all voters so they can vote early in presidential and gubernatorial contests. But it would allow only the Secretary of State to do that, not individual boards of elections.
Ohio: Efforts to clean up statewide voter database lead to just four duplicates on the books for 2013 election cycle | Cleveland Plain Dealer
Efforts to clean up Ohio’s database of 7.7 million registered voters succeeded in eliminating all but four duplicate entries for this election cycle, the secretary of state’s office said Tuesday. Secretary of State Jon Husted has touted his office’s efforts to improve the voter database since he took office. The database, which was established in 2004, contained more than 340,000 duplicate records in January 2011. “Maintaining accurate and up-to-date voter rolls is an ongoing process that is important in helping to ensure greater security and more efficiency in the administration of elections in Ohio,” Husted said.
The debate over unsolicited absentee voter applications first heated up in the fall of 2011. Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald wanted to send these forms to every voter in his county, which gives those individuals a chance to request an absentee ballot. Secretary of State Jon Husted disagreed with FitzGerald because of the lack of uniformity it would bring among the other counties. As part of a compromise, FitzGerald agreed to hold off on sending out the applications and instead, Husted’s office mailed them to voters throughout the entire state for 2012’s presidential election. Now Republican Senator Bill Coley, of southwest Ohio, wants to lock down the rules on these applications in state law. His proposed bill says the Secretary of State can mail unsolicited applications for absentee voter ballots, but only on an even-numbered year and only if the General Assembly provides the money.
If you want to register to vote in Ohio, you need to go to your local election board to do that. But a bill by Republican State Senator Frank LaRose would allow Ohioans to register to vote online. It would also give voters the opportunity to request an absentee ballot online. And it would use technology to improve the exchange of voter data among states and state agencies. Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted says this is a good bill. “We’ve been waiting for several years for the general assembly to take action on online voter registration,” says Husted. ” It’s really the next step in modernizing our election system and making it more secure and online registration does that.” Husted says online registration does something else – save money. “This will actually serve as a cost savings because we will handle the work through the Secretary of State’s office. And the savings will accrue for local taxpayers as we save money in the 88 counties that will ultimately have to implement this into their systems,” says Husted. “It would have saved, in the last election cycle, about 3 million dollars.” The Democrat who wants to take Husted’s job next year says she doesn’t have a problem with the legislation. State Senator Nina Turner says it’s a good idea. But she says the devil is in the details. And there’s already one place where she sees a potential problem.
None? None! NONE!? A new report released yesterday by two Statehouse Democrats suggests there was all sorts of voter “suppression” in Ohio in 2012, an obvious contrast with a report from May 23 released by Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted. That one said there wasn’t any. “Zero? That should’ve triggered a bell, and it did for us too. Zero? Something is wrong with that,” said state Sen. Nina Turner, one of the Democrats behind yesterday’s report. Turner will likely challenge Husted for his office in 2014. The report released by Turner and Democratic state Rep. Kathleen Clyde of Kent cites tens of thousands of instances of voter “suppression,” counting all 34,299 provisional ballots rejected, all 13,190 absentee ballots rejected, 2,188 complaints from Ohio Democratic volunteer attorneys on Election Day, and the 122 votes rejected in the Ohio House 98th District race won narrowly by a Republican.
The Ohio Senate moved what was thought to be a fairly noncontroversial election bill yesterday, but it drew Democratic opposition for what some argued was a failure to fully address an issue that leads to some votes being tossed out. The bill was described as general clean-up provisions that include increasing flexibility for county elections boards, notifying candidates who have identical names, and allowing county elections boards to send certain documents to the secretary of state electronically. Senate Bill 109 also makes it clear that if a person casting an absentee or provisional ballot double votes by filling in the name of the candidate and also writing in the same candidate, the vote will be counted.
Senate Democrats rolled out a list of legislative priorities yesterday focused on jobs, election law and healthier families. The push will include election-law changes that emphasize access to voting. Republicans are likely to craft their own set of election-law changes, and a clash is expected. Sen. Nina Turner, D-Cleveland, a potential candidate for Ohio secretary of state, said the goal will be to ensure that county election boards can “marry the needs of their constituencies in terms of voting.” She noted that Cuyahoga County had five weekends for early voting in 2008, but just one last year. “Voters had less voting opportunities in 2012,” she said. “Shaping voting times to only be during traditional work hours, that has an impact only on working-class folks.”
Four years ago, more than 60 percent of the voters in Butler and Warren counties backed Republican John McCain. This year both counties, the biggest two in Ohio to go for the GOP presidential candidate, are staying open extra hours on weekdays and Saturdays so their residents can cast early ballots. In 2008, voters in Ohio’s two largest counties, Cuyahoga and Franklin, went for Democrat Barack Obama by 60 percent or more. But elections offices in those two predominantly Democratic counties will be open for early voting only during regular business hours on weekdays and not at all on Saturdays. A similar Republican-Democrat disparity is occurring in several areas across the state as county elections boards decide whether to add hours during Ohio’s early voting period, which begins Oct. 2. “This is patently political,” said Chris Redfern, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party. “The Republicans know they can’t win this election playing the right way.” “Jim Crow has been resurrected in Ohio,” state Sen. Nina Turner (D., Cleveland) said on MSNBC. She said most of Ohio’s African-American voters live in urban counties that don’t have extended hours.
Ohio: Some elected officials decry loss of extended voting hours, others say mail ballots better option | cleveland.com
Elected officials, ministers and labor leaders are railing against Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s decision last week not to offer evening and weekend voting hours in Cuyahoga County leading up to the November election. Standing Monday on the steps of the county Board of Elections, U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge said Husted and the two Republican board of election members should be ashamed for limiting voting access that has been offered to voters in four of the past five years. Joined by dozens of other Democrats, she said the move would disenfranchise elderly, disabled and working class voters — especially those in poor and minority neighborhoods — and “shave points” in a possibly tight election in a swing state. “This isn’t about finances,” Fudge, of Warrensville Heights said. “This is about politics.” “We are not going to allow them to take our rights sitting down.”
Ohioans would have less time to vote absentee and early, and counties would be barred from mass-mailing applications for ballots to registered voters under a bill that cleared the Senate Tuesday. Senate Bill 148, passed strictly with Republican support, seeks to reduce the number of last-resort provisional ballots cast on Election Day and sets statewide…