Friday, May 13, 2011

Voting Under Attack Again

Advocates sign up homeless people and take them to the polling places during the 2010 election during "Golden Week."

Advocacy Update: VOTING

In another effort to solve a problem that does not really exist in Ohio, legislators have proposed a reform of voting laws in Ohio. This voting legislation will make it more difficult for low-income voters to participate in the electoral process. Current Secretary of State, Jon Husted has proposed a reform of Ohio election law despite not having any evidence that there is a problem with the current system. Activists are hosting a press conference on Monday to show their opposition to this reform of the voting system. The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, Cleveland Tenants Organization and others oppose this proposed bill. We believe that these are bills to limit access to the ballot box ahead of the 2012 Presidential election, and Ohio will again see a controversial presidential election like we saw in 2004.


When: Monday, May 16, 12:30pm or 1:00pm
Where: Steps of the Board of Elections
Invited participants: -Rep. Sandra Williams -Councilman Jeff Johnson -Rep. Mike Foley -Rick DeChant, Voting Rights Institute -Rev. Marvin McMickle

Text of bills: House Bill 159 (Photo ID bill)
House Bill 194 (House version of Husted bill)
Senate Bill 148 (Senate version of Husted bill)

Here are is the summary of the the Husted bill:
  1. The plan will make it harder to vote. The bills slash early voting days from 35 to as few as 6 days. In 2010, 1,200 homeless people in Cuyahoga County voted early. In addition, the bills eliminate the busiest early voting days: the Monday and Saturday preceding the election. Politifact recently gave Secretary of State Jon Husted a “Pants on Fire” for the lies he told while advocating fewer early vote days. The bills also give the Secretary of State unprecedented ability to purge Ohioans from the voter rolls.
  2. Under the plan, fewer votes will count. Under the bills, a vote won’t be counted if a voter fills in the oval for a candidate and also writes in the name of the exact same candidate. This particularly disenfranchises low-income voters who aren’t familiar with optical scan ballots. An estimated 10,000 voters would have their ballots thrown out, even though their intent is 100 percent clear. In addition, these bills require additional personal information from voters casting provisional ballots, including a voter’s full Social Security number, exposing voters to potential identity theft.
  3. Local control is eliminated under this plan. The bills take away the right of local boards of elections to determine how best to use resources to run smooth elections in their counties. Larger counties have made it easier to vote early by mail, which helps prevent long lines on Election Day. The plan would take us back to the days of voters standing for hours in line in the rain on Election Day. In addition, the plan eliminates counties’ ability to set up early vote locations that accommodate older voters and may provide adequate parking. NEOCH supports uniform standards across the state, but we feel that we should implement laws that allow the largest number of voters to participate and not limit access to the ballot box as this legislation does.
Brian Davis
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