Ohio Lost Golden Week

We would be driving homeless people to the polls today if we still had Golden Week.  This is the best time for homeless people to participate because they can update their address at the same time they vote.  No hassles and for those who move frequently this is the best way to participate in Democracy.

The Federal Appeals Court down in Cincinnati overturned the district court to eliminate Golden Week in Ohio.  The sole reason seems to be that other states around us have fewer opportunities to vote so therefore Ohioans should suffer as well.  This is the worst reason since we cannot move to a state just because they have better rules for voting.  Voting is tied to our residences, so once we get accustomed to voting early and voting and registering at the same time, and retreat is a taking of our rights.   The basis for the suit and the basis for the victory at the district court level was that African American and minority populations use Golden Week.   Ohio legislators and the Courts are making it more difficult if we take away a right that a minority population was using.  It does not matter if Indiana does not allow early voting because Ohio voters do not live in Indiana. 

There is no way to look at this written decision except purely done for political reasons.  The lower court decision was supportive of Golden Week and recognized that this was a way to make it easier to vote for Ohioans. Here are the stories about Golden Week.

http://wksu.org/post/ohio-democrats-are-taking-golden-week-voting-fight-us-supreme-court

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/08/ohio-voting-decision/497066/

http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2016/08/23/judge-reverses-golden-week-in-ohio.html

http://www.cleveland.com/open/index.ssf/2016/08/appellate_court_rules_ohio_ear.html

http://www.cleveland.com/opinion/index.ssf/2016/08/early-voting_ruling_on_ohios_g.html

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

Golden Week Killed by Conservative Judges

The Federal Appeals Court down in Cincinnati overturned the district court to eliminate Golden Week in Ohio.  The sole reason seems to be that other states around us have fewer opportunities to vote so therefore Ohioans should suffer as well.  The basis for the suit and the basis for the victory at the district court level was that African American and minority populations use Golden Week.   We will be making it more difficult in Ohio if we take away a right that a minority population was using.  It does not matter if Indiana does not allow early voting because Ohio voters do not live in Indiana. 

There is no way to look at this written decision except purely done for political reasons.  The lower court decision was

http://wksu.org/post/ohio-democrats-are-taking-golden-week-voting-fight-us-supreme-court

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/08/ohio-voting-decision/497066/

http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2016/08/23/judge-reverses-golden-week-in-ohio.html

http://www.cleveland.com/open/index.ssf/2016/08/appellate_court_rules_ohio_ear.html

http://www.cleveland.com/opinion/index.ssf/2016/08/early-voting_ruling_on_ohios_g.html

http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2016/08/31/ohios-golden-week-voting-dispute-headed-to-u-s-supreme-court.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/14/us/politics/supreme-court-wont-restore-golden-week-voting-in-ohio.html?_r=0

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

United State of Voting Forum

 “Voting is how we demonstrate our power…and we have an equal opportunity, or should to express that power”- Julie Fernandes, Advocacy Director, Open Society Foundations.

The "United State of Voting," a voting rights town hall meeting, was hosted by Congresswoman Marcia Fudge at Cleveland State University on the opening day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.  The town hall style forum emphasized both the importance of understanding the historical context of voting-and the importance of voting in communities across the nation. The matter is especially timely, with the November election quickly approaching-what will be the most “consequential election” of our lifetimes-a sentiment shared by both the panel, specifically Congressman James Clyburn (SC-6), and audience members alike.

The discussion began with a conversation about Golden Week, something, that as of late is still being discussed by the courts. Golden Week allows for a week of in-person voting at the same time of registration-a tool that has been used primarily by minority communities, and made it possible for approximately 60,000 voters to cast their ballots in the 2008 General Election and approximately 80,000 ballots to be cast in the 2012 General Election (MSNBC). This same law that is currently before the courts would also reduce the number of days the Board of Elections is open for early in-person voting from 35 days to just 28 days.

The argument that “Golden Week” and reducing the number of days for early in-person voting prior to an election, was not seen by the panel as an effective way to reduce voter fraud (the states reasoning behind the appeal after the district court ruling, although illegal voting/fraud represents just 0.02% of registered voters), but instead, a continued addition to the list of restrictions and hardships that are being put in place to make it more difficult to vote (MSNBC). These strategies are in direct opposition with the Voting Rights Act of 1965, specifically section 2 and in direct violation with the 14th Amendment-which states; “ equal protection under law” (U.S. Constitution, 14th Amendment).

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was implemented in order to enforce the 15th Amendment-which identified; “the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude” (United States Constitution, 15th Amendment). Since the passage of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), it has both been amended and reauthorized by congress many times-the most recent of which took place in 2006. However, even with such legislation in place, panelists stated with grave concern the Supreme Court Case, (The Shelby County v. Holder decision), in 2013 and explained how the decision to dismantle Section 4 of the VRA has undermined the very premise of voting being a right, and instead reframes the discussion to voting being a privilege.

Section 4 states that states and local governments with histories of discrimination must go to the federal government in order to obtain approval if the state or municipality wishes to change voting policies. The 5-4 decision, has made it possible for states and local governments to implement restrictive policies that negatively impact minority and low-income voters. From I.D. laws to purge processes- there has been and will continue to be a devastating impact on vulnerable populations. Here is a list of the 17 states that will have new restrictions that will be in place for the 2016 election or have been tightened (Brennan Center for Justice):

  • Alabama:  a photo I.D. is now required to vote (2014). Proof of citizenship is now required when registering to vote using the national form (2016).
  • Arizona: new legislation in place to limit mail-in ballot collection. Now, unless you are a direct family member, caregiver or postal service employee-it is now a felony to collect and turn-in another person’s ballot (2016).
  • Georgia: Proof of citizenship is now required when registering to vote using the national form (2016). Early in-person voting was reduced from 45 days to 21 days (2011).
  • Indiana: legislation now in place to allow an additional official at polling locations to inforce I.D. requirements (2014).
  • Kansas: a photo I.D. is now required to vote (2012). Proof of citizenship is now required when registering to vote using the federal form (2016).
  • Mississippi:  a photo I.D. is now required to vote (2011).
  • Nebraska:  reduced days for early voting (2014).
  • New Hampshire: Voter without acceptable forms of I.D. must take a photo at the polls and attach it to an affidavit (2015).
  • North CarolinaSame day registration was eliminated, as was early registration for 16-and -17-year-olds (2014), photo I.D. now required to vote (2016).
  • North Dakota: a photo I.D. is now required to vote (2015).
  • Ohio: Reduced early voting period/elimination of Golden Week (before the courts after state appealed the decision that the new restrictions were unconstitutional), absentee and provisional ballot rules changed (2014).
  • Rhode Island: Voter without acceptable forms of I.D. must take a photo at the polls and attach it to an affidavit (2014).
  • South Carolina: photo I.D. is requested to vote.
  • TennesseePhoto I.D. is required to vote, a reduced early voting period, and proof of citizenship is now required to register to vote (2014).
  • Texas: a photo I.D. is now required to vote (2014), and voting registration drive restrictions went into effect in 2011.
  • Virginia: a photo I.D. is now required to vote (2014), and there are also strict rules on third-party voter registration that were implemented in 2013.
  • Wisconsin: a photo I.D. is now required to vote (2015), reduced time period for early voting (2014), and implemented restrictions on individual registration (2011).

While the most important takeaway from this event is the distinction that voting is a right, not a privilege-as the VRA and constitution suggest. The panel reiterated the fact that there is still more we can do to change this wave of restrictive voting laws in our country, the first being to start the conversation. In this political climate you often hear, “how do I chose between the lesser of two evils” and instead of showing up to vote, these individuals opt-out. However, as Congressman Bennie Thompson (MS-2) stated “on November 9th we will have a new president, whether you vote or not” and we need to continue to work together to prevent the voter apathy and exhaustion that has resulted as a byproduct of a very tumultuous election year and panel members drew a clear parallel to the recent events happening in Europe with Brexit-explaining that this is what happens when people opt-out of the process.

The frustration is clear, but there are a variety of ways we can continue to fight for equitable voting practices. The first being, restoring Section 4 of the VRA. The second is to continue voter registration drives, and continue with community education-this will be a key component if we wish to increase voter turnout. If you do see violations against people’s right to vote, you can report those violations to the following national hotline: 1-866-OUR-VOTE, a national coalition of voting rights advocates working to “advance and defend the right to vote”.

More Information on the above topics can be found below:

For new voting restrictions and an interactive map:

 http://www.brennancenter.org/voting-restrictions-first-time-2016

Voting restrictions in Ohio:

http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/ohio-battle-rages-over-access-voting

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/inside-purge-tens-thousands-ohio-voters/story?id=39586417

More information on the Shelby County v. Holder Decision:

https://www.bloomberglaw.com/public/desktop/document/Shelby_Cnty_v_Holder_No_1296_2013_BL_167707_US_June_25_2013_Court?1466986835

http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/shelby-county-v-holder/

Also, we have a ton of information on our website by clicking on the "Vote" button on the side of the website. 

by Katy Carpenter

All opinions represent the views of those who sign the entry

Supreme Court Blocks Golden Week in Ohio

The US Supreme Court just blocked Golden Week in Ohio by a 5-4 decision along conservative and liberal lines.  This is unfortunate for homeless people who change their address frequently.  They need to be able to change their registration to their current residence and then cast a ballot.  They may change address three times in the next month and need that opportunity to reduce confusion.  They often do not have any identification and certainly not ID to match their current residence.  This also provides confusion at the polling place.  We were all set to provide vans to every shelter and begin to transport people to the Board of Elections. We will now have another time of confusion in voting in Ohio because of the last minute intervention by the US Supreme Court. 

I have never understood the state's reasoning here.  They claim that we have more opportunity to vote than any of the surrounding states and better than 41 other states.  But we cannot vote in 41 states or any of the surrounding states. We have to vote in Ohio and hundreds of thousands voted during Golden Week or on the weekend before the November Election Day.  We have for the past 8 years had Golden Week in Ohio and now we do not.  Our ability to vote has decreased in Ohio with this decision.  The ability of homeless people to participate in democracy has diminished.  This is horrible for democracy in Ohio to restrict access to the voting booth, and horrible that the ability to vote when you want to vote has become so political.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

New Voting Hours and Fake Voting Issues

Secretary of State Jon Husted issued an appeal to the Federal Judge which will provide continued uncertainty as we approach the November election.  He issued a statement claiming that he is forced to appeal to keep things fair throughout the state:

“Though I have complied with the recent ruling by Judge Economus, I must appeal his decision because in allowing counties to set their own schedules, he has once again opened the door to having a patchwork of rules across the state, which is in direct conflict with his previous rulings that insisted upon treating all voters equally."

This is not what the ruling says in fact.  Similar hours throughout the state does not mean equality.  It just means that small counties with a few voters get to stay open the exact same time as the big counties with hundreds of thousands of voters.  We have to wait in lines while they get easy access to the Board of Elections.  How is that equality?   None of the articles give the other side of the story from the Husted position on equality.  Homeless people are especially grateful for the expansion of voting hours to include a week in which they will be able to vote and change their address at the same time.  Here are the hours that Husted has demanded:

  • 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 30 through Friday, Oct. 3, 2014
  • 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday, Oct. 6
  • 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 7 through Friday, Oct. 10
  • 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 14 through Friday, Oct. 17
  • 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 20 through Friday, Oct. 24
  • 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25
  • 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 26
  • 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 27 through Friday, Oct. 31
  • 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 1
  • 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 2
  • 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Nov. 3

The directive did not indicate that the Board could adopt local hours as the federal court had instructed.  It will be interesting to see if Cuyahoga County adopts additional hours for the week of Sept. 30.  They did not have a board meeting set until October 7, but I understand there is an attempt to organize an early board meeting.  Then it will interesting to see if the board split the vote 2 votes by the Democrats wanting expanded hours and 2 votes for the Republicans maintaining a state wide standard.  Then will the Secretary of State break the tie for expanded hours or maintaining his "equality" for rural communities illusion.  We shall see over the next week.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Potential Chaos in Voting Hours

There was a great decision last week by Federal Judge Peter Economus to open up early voting including the preservation of Golden Week.  We wrote about this on our voting update section of our website.  Just click on the VOTE button on any page of the website.  This week, Judge Economus has allowed the state to join the lawsuit in their appeal.  We thought that Golden week was dead and had no hope in being resurrected especially when the case drew an extremely conservative judge.   The NAACP and League of Women Voters' lawyers successfully made the case that this is just an extension of the 2012 early voting case to get Judge Economus to decide on the case.   Now, we are scrambling to get homeless people to use Golden Week. 

One area that is going to be touchy this week is what happens at the local level.  The judge forcefully said that the Secretary of State should not block local expansions of voting hours, but he has a vote. I would recommend reading the 71 page decision, because Economus really went after the State of Ohio for limiting voting.  Full disclosure: the Judge quoted my testimony against the loss of Golden Week earlier this year when it was in legislative committee.  Economus's decision says:

The Court likewise concludes that SB 238’s elimination of Golden Week itself similarly burdens the voting rights of lower income and homeless individuals. The record reflects that in 2008, 12,842 voters utilized Golden Week to register or update their registration and vote; in 2010, 1,651 voters did so; and, in 2012, 5,844 voters did so. While these figures may be small in comparison to the millions of votes usually cast in Ohio elections, thousands of voters have utilized Golden Week during each of the last several elections.

What happens if the local board splits with the two Democrats wanting evening hours and the two Republicans want no evening hours?  The Secretary of State breaks all local tie votes.   Would he cross the federal judge and vote to limit early voting or cross his party and allow urban communities with large African American voters to open in the evening for voting?  Would he see that equality does not mean stuffing hundreds of thousands into the same building with only 5 hours of off work hours available a week to vote in person?  

There is also the matter of the appeal of this case that could cause chaos.   There is so little time left for boards to get ready for early voting, the State needs to drop their appeal and let us have the same hours we had in 2012.  Small counties were not been adversely impacted by different voting hours.  Cuyahoga and the other big counties did not have voter turnout far greater than the other counties.  The world did not end because each County had a different schedule.  Right now, we are planning for evening hours, weekend early voting and Golden Week.  If we have to change course again, voters are going to be so confused.  This appeal of the case can only be viewed as exclusively political and not helpful to voting in Ohio.  The Secretary of State is certainly not providing certainty in voting and allowing the local community to set their own hours based on the needs of their citizens; he is protecting the goals of his political party to limit access to early voting.  We need to allow the local experts to decide on the hours for their voters.

By the way, we are collecting volunteers for Early voting both with registrations and driving people to the Board of Elections.  Here is a copy of a flyer that you can print out or send around to family and friends...  Contact NEOCH if you want to volunteer.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry and not the Board or other staff of the agency.

Golden Week Eliminated and Early Voting Curtailed

We the people of Ohio have to wonder what is the reason that we are not allowed to vote in the evening in person?  If government is supposed to act more like the business world then why are they not filling the demand for weekend and evening voting?   These were all busy times for early voting in Cuyahoga Counties and other urban centers.  Government should respond to the needs of its citizens--not force the people to meet the needs of employees of rural boards of elections.   In another example of fixing a problem that does not exist,  Secretary of State Husted has decided to limit early in person voting to consistent hours throughout the state.  There may not be a need in Adams, Meigs or Van Wert counties for Sunday voting or early evening voting, but there is huge demand in Akron, Cleveland, and Cincinnati. 

I have yet to hear the reason for ending Golden Week.  No one has even given a reason why we can't allow people to register and vote at the same time.  The counties have 30 days to verify if this information is accurate, and so what is the problem?  Why not make voting as easy as possible?  Have their been massive voter fraud in the states that allow same day registration as voting? (The answer is no, by the way).  If government is responsive to its citizens then they should be open when people want to vote.  There were thousands who voted on Sunday in 2008, 2010 and 2012 so let them vote when it is convenient.  There are thousands who do not trust voting by mail and want to vote in person but cannot get off work to go all the way downtown.  I have heard some who feel it is their civic obligation to vote and they feel it must be done in person. 

For homeless people voting, Golden Week is perfect. We have a video about the importance of Golden Week.   Homeless people move frequently and lose their important documents on a regular basis.  They need a time to be able to change their address (which happens every few weeks) and to vote at the same time.  Homeless people who register in August may have moved three times by the time of the November election.   This can only be seen as a way to suppress voters.  Imagine if the only way to go to a movie was that you had to register 35 days before the movie premiere date, you had to fill out the forms accurately, and you could not fill out the movie registration in person except during limited hours.  Then, if you change your address in those 35 days before the movie, they would only let you read the script for the movie and not let you see the movie for another 10 days.  Most people would say, "Forget it. I will wait for the video."   This is what is happening with our voting, people are just waiting to see the results the next day because it is too much of a hassle.  We live in an internet age when we can order a pizza online, have the payment verified by some financial institution, and have it is delivered within the hour. We have set up a 19th century process for voting.  It is a way to suppress voting nothing more.  People will eventually see that these rules harm elderly, students, African Americans, low income workers, and especially homeless people.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Ohio Proposes to End Golden Week

 

This week the Ohio Senate voted to eliminate the week in which citizens can register to vote and vote at the same time.  They also have reduce early voting time and bar the local boards of election from opening on Sundays.   We absolutely oppose this law and have posted this video and sent testimony down to the Ohio legislature committee (posted on our website as a pdf).

If we value democracy in America, then we should do everything we can to encourage voting and make it as easy as possible.  This may mean paying for the postage across the United States to mail in your ballot.  We should provide free rides to the elderly to get to polling sites in rural communities, and not suppress the vote by punishing urban communities for having as many hours as possible available at the one polling location to vote early.  The large counties need more time to vote because we are forcing everyone to go to one location for early voting, and there are just not enough room in most urban Boards of Election to accommodate everyone interested in early voting.  We saw lines of two hours in 2012 on the last weekend of early voting proving that Ohioans really want to vote and really like early voting.   On the Saturday and Sunday before Election Day 2012, Cuyahoga County had lines of 45 minutes to one hour.  We had lines out the door during the 2008 Presidential election even though we had an efficient and highly trained staff at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections.   We needed more time for early voting locations and a bigger campaign to encourage voting by mail.  Limiting early voting in Ohio will only result in longer lines in Cleveland, Columbus, Youngstown, Dayton and Toledo. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

PS: Let us know what you think of the video since this is our first experiment with video on the site.