Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Brunner Speaks (a lot)

Secretary of State Attends Housing Conference

I was able to attend the Coalition on Housing and Homelessness Conference in Columbus last week. I presented a workshop on homeless people participating in the democratic process from registration to voting on election day along with a representative of the Secretary of State's office. Jennifer Brunner, current Secretary of State, gave a keynote address during the conference. She also was on WCPN on May 1.

At the conference, Brunner was described as the new sheriff in town. She brought a message to housing and homeless advocates that her goal is to make sure that if you want to vote and are eligible, her office will help facilitate that activity. She talked briefly about the NEOCH lawsuit and said that she opposed the identification requirements before it was passed, but now she is an elected official and must enforce the law. Brunner said that the state legislature, controlled by Republicans, is not willing to back down on the ID requirements. She said that there is very little evidence of voter fraud in which people attempt to vote more than one time, but the legislature will not back down on the ID law.

Brunner said that she will enforce current law, but with the goal of enfranchising every eligible citizen. To this end she issued a directive which we talked about in this space in early April. The directive provides some clarity for local Boards of Elections and it expands the number of documents that can be used for ID. It also allows students with ID from another state to vote. There are a few holes still, but it is a start. Our case with the State of Ohio and Brunner continues. We are looking for some compromise and settlement but we are not there yet. By the way, Secretary Brunner misidentified COHHIO as the plaintiff in the ID lawsuit and not NEOCH.

Brunner spent a good deal of time talking about the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections and their Board issues. She said that voting is important and the nation pays attention to Ohio. She stated that her election in November had donations from around the country and military service men and women from around the world who voted for her in order to see the election process cleaned up. She repeated the common refrain, "As Ohio goes, so goes the nation." She was critical of Ken Blackwell and his inability to provide direction or oversight of the election process. She repeatedly stressed accountability. Brunner talked a great deal about the fight with Bob Bennett, and the messed up Cuyahoga Board.

Having worked closely on the elections in the past, I was so glad to hear of the firing of the Board and the clean up of the elections. There are so many problems with our elections, I am not sure that she will be able to clean them all up during the next eight years before her term is expired. As Brunner said on WCPN this morning, I think the voters were looking for a change from the Blackwell era.

Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.

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