Last Week to Vote Early

Non-Profit Vote has worked with NEOCH over the last few election cycles to help us alert voters in Ohio of the importance of voting.  We have worked with Cleveland Votes and COHHIO this year to register and get people to vote.  Early voting is the best for homeless people and those who move frequently because the staff at the Board of Elections are professional and know all the rules.  You also do not need ID to vote early.  There are rides available and one weekend left for early voting. 

Voting Lawsuit Settlement Will Not Help Homeless People

The American Civil Liberties Union settled a lawsuit with the Secretary of State over early voting this month.  We got a couple of extra weekend days of voting, but we lost the principle.  I say we, because homeless people have been a part of lawsuits about early voting in the past and many of the Souls to the Polls ministers assisted with transporting homeless people.  This settlement did not help more homeless people to vote and it did little for poor people. 

Why can't people who move frequently register a change of address and vote at the same time?  Why can't we allow people to register and vote 35 days out while there is plenty of time to check on their eligibility? Or even 15 days out? There are states that allow same day registration and their elections are secure.  Isn't early in person registration and voting more secure than voting by mail where we have no idea who is actually casting the vote? 

All that trouble to sue and in the end it is not easier to vote in Ohio.  The so-called Golden week where a resident can vote and register in person at the Board of Elections was worth fighting for.  It was a symbol of the State encouraging the lowest income to vote by making it as easy as possible.   Golden Week was a turning away from the Poll Taxes of the South and all the efforts to make it hard for minority populations to cast a ballot.  This is a sad settlement which allows the State of Ohio to limit the ability of lower income people to vote.  If the conservatives can force civil libertarians into settlements that makes it harder for poor people to vote, where will they go next?  They base all these changes on "securing against fraud," which does not really exist.  What other fake threats can conservatives invent to limit access to the ballot box?  What other restrictions on voting will they test?  How far away are literacy tests or mandatory State IDs to vote or limiting the number of staff who can help with voting causing huge lines in urban centers? 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

NEOCH Files Suit to Protect Provisional Voters

As was reported in the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Columbus Dispatch, NEOCH filed suit regarding the counting of provisional ballots with SB 216 against the State of Ohio. This is an extension of our 2006 lawsuit regarding identification and voting.  Our settlement was that homeless people without ID had a right to vote.   This typically involved provisional ballots, and so we had an interest in making sure that the County Boards of Elections counted the provisional ballots.

The new law required completion of the envelope without a mistake and would throw out the entire ballot if their were errors in the completion of the absentee or provisional ballot.  The problem was that there was not a standard that each County had to meet.  We attempted to negotiate a directive to clarify the law with the Secretary of State.  For a Secretary of State who was pushing for standard early voting hours, he would want a standard counting method throughout the state for absentee and provisional ballots.  We are afraid that there would be some counties who reject most of their provisional ballots on highly technical grounds while others would be more permissive. 

These were the same plaintiffs involved in the 2006 lawsuit who fought to allow low income voters to vote even if they did not have an ID.  We worked on this lawsuit since the summer and negotiated with the State over clarifications.  We were not looking for a decision before the current election, but we want the federal courts to decide if voter intent should count as opposed to the ability to follow sometimes confusing instructions.  Ohio should try to figure out a way to enfranchise as many voters as possible including those who have a difficult time understanding the written word. 

We hope that the court will allow us discovery in this case to see the impact on SB 216 on voting in Ohio.   We hope to be able to take a look at the percentage of rejected ballots across the state to see if there are discrepancies from one county to the next. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Sunday Early Voting

 The only Sunday Voting took place yesterday and there were hundreds of people voting in Cuyahoga County.  They were only open from 1 to 5 p.m and the line was about an hour long.  We took over 7 homeless people and four did not want to wait the hour for the line to move.  There were lots of church groups, and many politicians who showed up.

Saturday was a miserable day, and the lines were a lot shorter.  The Board was open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m and there was only a short wait.  On Sunday, the street was closed and they were only letting vans in to drop people off.  There was a festive atmosphere with many groups holding rallies across from the Board of Elections.  There were sign holders and lots of "souls going to the polls." There were people dropping off their completed ballots and people in cars with amplifying equipment pitching their candidates as they were competing with car stereos amplifying the Brown's game yesterday. 

The market spoke in Cleveland that voters like voting on Sunday and they want more of it.  With all the people dressed in their Sunday best showing up and casting a ballot with their fellow congregants, this seemed like a popular activity that people appreciated. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

 

Last Week to Early Vote

Good Afternoon Voting Advocates

Election Day is five days from today on Tuesday, November 4. Polls open at 6:30 a.m. and close 7:30 p.m.

You can vote early this weekend on Saturday, November 1st from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and Sunday, November 2nd from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Early voting is also available Monday, November 3rd from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 pm.  NEOCH volunteers will be out driving people to the polling place for Early Voting.  As we say, the easiest and most convenient way for low income people who move frequently to vote (including homeless people) is to vote at the Board of Elections early. 

Contact your local Board of Elections for voting locations.  Here is the contact for the Cuyahoga Board of Elections.

If you have issues when voting, help is available at the Election Protection Hotline at 1.866.OUR-VOTE.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

You Have Permission from the State to Vote this Saturday

This coming Saturday, October 25 is the first Saturday for early in-person voting. Hours are 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. across Ohio.  Expect lines because this is one of only two Saturdays that people can vote in person early.  Contact your local county Board of Elections for early voting location information.   For the Cuyahoga Board of Elections click here

For quick and comprehensive voter information, just enter your address on the League of Women Voters of Ohio Vote 411 website.

For more on Ohio Votes or additional help click here.
For more from the League of Women Voters of Ohio click here.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Be Careful When Voting By Mail

From Ohio Votes and the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio:

According to the Ohio Secretary of State, 722,498 vote-by-mail absentee ballots have been requested. If you plan to vote by mail, be sure to review all instructions before sending in your ballot. [NEOCH: This is especially important in the day of complicated forms for provisional ballots, shorter early voting times, long lines the last weekend of early voting, and "election observers" placed at the precincts to "challenge" or block voters.]

What to remember when preparing your ballot:

  • Do not remove the numbered stub from the ballot;
  • Place your completed ballot into the ID envelope, making sure it is sealed;
  • Complete and sign the Statement of Voter on the outside of the ID envelope;
  • Be sure to include your date of birth, your name and voter registration address (if your ID envelope is not pre-printed), your driver's license number, the last four digits of your SSN, OR a copy of a government issued ID;
  • Check the "General Election" box and write in the year 2014.

Complete instructions can be found through the Secretary of State. Click here to view a copy the ID envelope. For more info, the League of Women Voters of Ohio has a great one-stop shop for all things voting in Ohio: Vote 411.
For more on Ohio Votes or additional help click here.
For more from the League of Women Voters of Ohio click here.

Vote by Mail Absentee Ballots:

  • Submit to the local board of Elections a request or from the Secretary of State website.  Every voter in Ohio should have received a form to return to request an absentee ballot.
  • You will be mailed a ballot to complete.  You can drop it back at the Board of Elections or mail it back to the Board of Elections (Pay attention that you will have to pay extra postage.)
  • You must complete the inside envelope and seal it--Follow the instructions carefully.
  • Your ballot must be postmarked by November 3 to be counted.
  • You can drop your completed ballot at the Board of Election until November 4 at 7:30 p.m.

Brian Davis

Opinions reflect the opinion 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

Successful Voting Event at 2100 Lakeside Shelter

Rev. Tony Minor, Advocacy Director at LMM, was the Master of Ceremony for our successful National Voter Registration Day event.  We registered or changed the address of 17 individuals, and a few requested an absentee ballot.  We heard from State Representative Mike Foley and County Councilman Dale Miller who both worked to motivate the crowd to vote.  Natoya Walker Minor represented Mayor Frank Jackson at the event.  All brought the message that it is critical for everyone to participate in Democracy. 

Walker Minor talked about the judicial races in Cleveland and the County that don't receive a lot of attention, but have a profound impact on the life of residents.  She talked about how important the judicial branch of government is to the community and we select our judges through a vote in November.  Mike Foley talked about how every vote matters with his first election as an example.  Mike won by a handful of votes that took two months to conduct a recount of the votes.  He is thankful for every vote because of his close election for State Representative. 

Dale Miller talked about the importance of voting and the changes in the law that are making it harder to participate.  He talked about and answered questions about some of the ballot issues that we vote on in November.  The State leaders have made it difficult for low income people to vote, and everyone talked about how important it was to cast a ballot because of all the blood spilled to earn the right to vote for women and minorities in the United States.  We urged people to complete a voter registration card if they had changed residences since they last voted.  

September 23 was National Voter Registration Day and we celebrated at 2100 Lakeside Shelter. We had the four community leaders on hand to talk to homeless people and eight volunteers registering people to vote.  There are only two weeks left to register people to vote.  We are urging early voting for homeless people who often have issues with maintaining identification.  We are going to help homeless people get over to vote during Golden Week and then through the election.  We are appreciative of Board for opening additional hours and additional weekend days so that it is easier for homeless people who often work full time to vote. 

Thanks to all the volunteers and the speakers for making this a successful event.  We hope that we continue to have a good turnout of homeless people who vote. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

National Voter Registration Day

We could use your help with registering people to vote.  We tentatively have County Councilman Dale Miller and State Rep. Mike Foley attending.  We will have Natoya Walker Minor representing the Mayor and we hope to have a Cleveland City Council member.  We want this to be a motivational event to encourage homeless people to vote.   Come and listen to these community leader or help register homeless people to participate in democracy.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Volunteer to Help NEOCH Voting Activities

We posted a blog entry about the potential chaos coming up with voting in Ohio.  This includes a few remarks from the wonderful decision by Federal Court Judge Peter Economus on the importance of Early voting and Golden Week.

If you would like to help with the upcoming election we have a number of opportunities coming up and we need your help:

Here is a pdf of the flyer if you want to download it and send it around to friends or family.

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.

Welcome to Ohio Elections, Justice Department--What Took You So Long?

Today, the Justice Department said that they were going to challenge recent changes to the election procedures and election law in Ohio.  This is welcome news and long overdue.  There is no reason for the loss of "Golden Week" except to keep poor people from voting.  Golden week allowed homeless people to vote and change their registration at the same time.  There were 30 days before the election to verify the information and little chance of fraud. The Justice Department is also filing a brief opposed to the Wisconsin voter ID law.

The reduction in the number of hours available to not include evening and weekend hours can only be seen as racist or class-ist or both.  One federal court has already forced the state to open on the weekend before the election because that is when people want to vote.   Hundreds of thousands of citizens vote in the evening and weekend, so why not make it easier for them?  Why not allow big counties to have extended hours because this is what taxpayers desire.  Cuyahoga County has a harder time getting the half million potential voters into the limited space of the Board of Elections when compared to Lake, Erie or Portage Counties.  Some of the other myths about this voting issue in Ohio are:

1. Democrats voted against the original 2005 legislation which expanded early voting.  FALSE! Democrats voted against the voting legislation in 2005 for a variety of reasons that had nothing to do with early voting.  There were a number of poison pills in the legislation including the ID provision that all were litigated.  There were some good things like expanded early voting, but overall it was a harmful bill that restricted access to the ballot box.  We could have used the Justice Department to step in and shut down the law in 2005. 

2. Most surrounding states have less time to vote--so what!  Ohio tax payers have been voting in the evening and on the weekend for nearly a decade in large numbers.  Government should give the people what they want.  We should serve the needs of the people and not make the people serve the needs of government.  This should be a bipartician position that government should work for the people and should be available when people want to vote. 

3. If they do not like the hours then just vote by mail.  There are so many older individuals who do not believe that voting should be done by mail.  They do not trust it and they do not believe that this is true voting.   They don't like figuring out the postage, and they want some professional to help them complete the form so that their ballot will count.  Again, give the people what they want--plenty of early in person voting!

4. Why is voting so polarizing in America?   The comments on the bottom of these articles in the newspapers are so hateful toward lower income people who seem to have pulled off a fraud in voting in a sympathetic President twice.  It just seems like there is an element of racism in restricting access to the ballot box, and we welcome the Justice Department into the state to fight this racism. 

By the way, we have placed the voting button on many pages on our webpage that you can click on the button to go directly to our voting section.  Or you can do a search on voting on any of our pages.  We have update everything in our voting section for the upcoming election including voting hours. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Good News For Protecting the Rights of Voters

A Wisconsin judge has struck down the State law requiring the showing of identification in order to vote.  This is tremendous news for those who believe that voter ID laws are ways to restrict access to the ballot box.  We discuss this in more detail in our voting blog.  We appreciate that the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty were a part of the legal team on this important victory. 

In Ohio, the ACLU is leading a group to overturn new restrictions on voting. With plaintiffs representing minority voters including the NAACP, League of Women Voters and a group of churches have sued Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted to overturn the new rules limiting the hours for voting.  This suit attacks the new restrictions on in person voting on the weekend and the evenings.  It also questions the validity of canceling "Golden Week" when voters can register and change their registration at the same time.  The suit says that these limitations violate the federal voting rights act and have no purpose except to limit minority participation in the November election.  Unfortunately, the group drew one of the most conservative judges in the federal system, Gregory Frost.  He was appointed by President George W. Bush and is extremely conservative.  Despite the judicial system being advertised as blind, many judges are peeking out of the blind fold looking at which way the political wind are blowing.  Frost has refused to stop the execution in January when Ohio wanted to use an untested drug combination that eventually did not go well and he ruled against the Green Party over election machine software issues.  This is going to be a huge mountain to overcome, and we should plan on long lines on the two Saturdays that are left for early in person voting. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

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.

A Few Quick Updates

CWRU Civic Engagement Conference and Learning Center along with the InterReligious Task Force on Central America had their 14th Annual Teach In conference on a cold snowy day in February.  I was one of the presenters regarding homelessness in Cleveland.  It was amazing how many students came out to participate.  Sarah Kalloch of Oxfam and Dr. Rhonda Williams of CWRU Social Justice Institute were the two keynote speakers for the conference.  

100,000 Homes Campaign was featured on 60 Minutes on Sunday February 9.  It was a nice piece on the savings for the community in providing housing before wasting time with services.  Check it out if you did not see it.  The problem is that 100,000 homes are not going to make a dent in the need.  We have neglected affordable housing for 30 years, 100,000 homes is not going do much for the community.  Don't get me wrong these are beautiful buildings in Cleveland that have everything the population needs.  It is just not enough and it takes too long to develop. If we were developing 100,000 new units with support services every year, we would start seeing a reduction in emergency services.  At the end of the day this summer of 2014, we will reach the 100,000 homes magic number.  Then what?   We will not have closed any shelter and the cities will be stuck with the long term cost of supporting these buildings and the disabled residents living inside. 

Golden Week is probably dead this week.  It looks like the State legislature is going to kill the week that allows homeless people to register and vote at the same time.  It is far enough before the election that the eligibility of the voter can be determined.  It is perfect for people who move frequently such as homeless people and it makes it easy to kill two birds with one shot.  I do not know why state officials do not want to make it easier for people to vote.  I do not see the harm or the potential fraud when a voter is allowed to register and vote at the same time.  This vote to kill Golden Week can only be considered a voter suppression activity. 

Long Term Unemployed Still Without Help.  It is now 41 days since the long term unemployed were kicked off the benefit program.  This is the time that the renters will start seeing evictions because they cannot afford their housing.  This is the time that they will start seeing financial emergencies, and one of our own Senators voted down the proposal to extend benefits for the next three months.  We found a way to keep supporting big farms and certain pet projects in the Farm bill, but we can't help out-of-work Americans struggling to avoid homelessness?

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.

 

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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