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.
The GOP’s decision to pull the funding measure reportedly came after Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, asked House members to do so. But Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, a Democrat who is challenging Kasich this fall, told msnbc he thinks it also was prompted by a letter FitzGerald sent earlier Tuesday, and promoted at a press conference, requesting a federal investigation into the recent wave of restrictive voting rules imposed by Ohio Republicans.
“They were defending it all day yesterday,” FitzGerald said of the Republicans’ funding measure. “They stopped defending it after we had our press conference in front of federal court this morning. I don’t think those things are unrelated.”
In late February, the GOP-controlled state legislature cut early voting, ended same-day registration, and made it easier to reject provisional ballots. Days later, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted announced further cuts to early voting, including the elimination of Sunday voting, which has been especially popular with African-Americans.
Full Article: Ohio voting rights battle heating up | MSNBC.