Early Voting Has Begun

For homeless people the easiest way to vote is in person at the Board of Elections for early voting. NEOCH encourages homeless people to vote in person at the Board of Elections early.   To request an early voting ballot by mail click here.  It is much easier because just like voting by mail you do not have to show identification.  The hours for early voting are:

• 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday, October 7, 2013, through Friday, November 1, 2013;
• 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Saturday, November 2, 2013;
• 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Sunday, November 3, 2013;

• 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday, November 4, 2013.

Despite what people think, it is not easy to get identification.  There was a letter to the editor on September in the Plain Dealer by Michael Tracy who was trying to help his 84 year old Army veteran father a state ID. 

"Last month, I took my infirm father to the Bureau of Moter Vehicles to get a state ID.  We had a Social Security card, a Medicare card, a valid out of state driver's license, a credit card, tax records, bank statements, etc.  This was insufficient to receive a state ID.

The problem was the gentleman need proof of citizenship (passport or birth certificate).   The letter goes on to explain the circular logic in the world of identification in which he needed an state ID to receive a copy of his birth certificate, but to receive a State ID he needed a birth certificate.  Tracy summed it up with, " Even in difficult times, shouldn't our government bureacracies still work for the people who need them the most?"

While people are struggling to get identification and have a hard time voting, the State Legislature is working on a package of "reform" that will make it more difficult for this 84 Army veteran to vote and will make it more inconvenient in Ohio to vote. There are three bills introduced by Representative John Becker.  Below are the comments from the Ohio Fair Elections Network.

House Bill 250

The Ohio Fair Elections Network, a coalition of national, state and local fair elections advocates, decried the introduction of H.B. 250, a bill seeking to limit Ohio’s early vote period from 35 days to 17 days. The bill was introduced by Representative John Becker (R-Union Township), and currently has only 3 co-sponsors.

In 2011, the legislature passed remarkably similar restrictions to early voting in H.B. 194. Over 300,000 Ohioans signed a petition to referendum H.B. 194, which temporarily stopped the law from going into effect. Greg Moore of Fair Elections Ohio recalled, “the legislature then took the extraordinary step of repealing H.B. 194 before it went before the voters. He questioned, “if the legislature recognized that severe cuts to early voting were so unpopular in 2012, why resurrect the same bad idea a year later?”

Deidra Reese of Ohio Voice noted the popularity of early voting among both voters and Boards of Elections. “Early voting is convenient and flexible enough to accommodate the busiest of voters’ schedules. She added, it’s also well-liked by Boards of Elections because it is a cost-saving measure that eases congestion in the polling place, and reduces stress on poll workers and voting machines.”

House Bill 266

H.B. 266 was introduced in September.  According to the summary the bill's purpose is to: generally prohibit the mailing of unsolicited election forms and prepayment of postage for the return of election forms and to clarify that a board of elections is responsible to send and receive absent voter's ballot materials.

It permits the SoS to mail registration forms and absentee ballots unsolicited, but prohibits county BOEs from doing so.

The full text can be found here http://www.legislature.state.oh.us/bills.cfm?ID=130_HB_266

House Bill 263

The Ohio Fair Elections Network, a coalition of national, state and local fair elections advocates, criticized the latest election bills introduced by Representative John Becker (R-Union Township). House Bill 263 narrowly sets early voting hours from 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., and prohibits early voting on evenings and
weekends. A second bill, H.B. 266, prohibits county boards of elections from using their own discretion to send absentee ballots to all registered voters in the county. In addition, H.B. 266 prevents public assistance agencies from sending unsolicited voter registration applications, a possible violation of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. The limits on the hours for early voting proposed in H.B. 266, is compounded by the limits on the days for early voting proposed in H.B. 263, which would cut early voting in half from 35 days to 17 days.

Camille Wimbish of Ohio Voice said, “Early voting is very popular in Ohio. In the last weekend before the 2012 election, over 60,000 votes were cast across all counties.” She questioned, “Why would Rep. Becker attempt to restrict the days and hours of early voting, when it will certainly make if more difficult for voters to have access to the ballot box?”  Rep. Becker’s claim that the proposed cuts to early voting will result in cost-savings is also in dispute. Franklin County Board of Elections Member Zach Manifold stated, “The convenience and flexibility of early voting has allowed counties to save a tremendous amount of money through precinct consolidation.

This legislation will reverse those cost- savings, as fewer people voting early will require more election staff, poll workers, and voting machines on Election Day.” He noted, “Additionally, this legislation will force small counties that only needed part time hours to meet the early voting demands of their voters, to spend significantly more taxpayer money to stay open full-time.

Others voiced concerns about the impact of preventing public assistance agencies from mailing voter registration applications to low income citizens. Norman Robbins of the Northeast Ohio Voter Advocates observed, “This prohibition only exacerbates the disparity between applicants at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, where applicants must refuse a pre-filled registration form, and low-income applicants for public assistance benefits, who must fill out a complete form, often in the middle of a family crisis.” He noted, “This bill would increase the number of costly provisional ballots by making changes-of-address more difficult for the very people who move the most.” He added, “Not only does H.B. 266 send a harmful message that voting rights are not equal among Ohio’s poor, but the bill likely violates federal law.”

There is a Mayor's race, city council races, a Library levy and the Health and Human Services Levy.  There are school district levies and municipal judges up for election.

Go Out and Vote!!

Brian Davis

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